The End of an Era – A Practical Shift in Enterprise Technology

Enterprise technology has long been dominated by discussions of technical specifications, standards, speed, and feeds. Emphasizing these details is the heart of IT and the joy of the vast majority of practitioners. Knowledge of standards, compatibility, technical tricks and pitfalls is a badge of honor. Operating systems, CPU architectures, storage speeds, programming languages, and memory capabilities—each of which is hotly debated. For years, this arcane science has blocked all but the most committed business executives, who have largely taken the word of the IT department on direction, procurement, and development. However, recognizing that IT and digital technologies are critical to almost every aspect of the business means that technology direction is not only owned by the CIO, but also by other executives and line-of-business leaders.

In response, technology providers, vendors, ITSPs and MSPs have all moved from a product basis to a solution basis. This transition has not been smooth or easy, and of course, each of these tech organizations is making this change at a different pace and with different levels of urgency. Business leaders are looking for results, much to the chagrin of technologists, who often don’t care about the technical details of achieving those results. In short, they don’t care much about how it works. They care about how best it works, how much it costs, how well it meets their business needs, and whether it’s flexible enough to accommodate future business needs. IT still handles technical details and requirements, but IT’s needs, especially when it comes to other businesses, are secondary.

Good examples include the collective lukewarm response to 5G, or the wink when executives mention Wi-Fi 6E. Both techniques are great and will make a difference. For business leaders, this amounts to the technological chatter used to advance the Star Trek plot. As long as it fits the use case and is a good investment, they’re all in it. They no longer care about the details of IT technology, but about the details of the new generation of forklifts in the distribution center. Because these business leaders are the leaders in approving purchases, it’s more important than ever that sellers and IT departments continue to change the way they deliver solutions.

Old habits are hard to break, and the true enthusiasm of technologists for the technology itself is considerable. Vendors, ITSPs, MSPs and all technology sellers in the enterprise market need to move to a solution foundation. This will mean moving away from long-held value propositions. Suppliers cannot rely solely on speed, nor can they be dazzled by the silicon processes used to make chips or the standards they follow. MSPs, especially telecom MSPs, can’t boast about how great their networks are or how great 5G is. A great network is even a bet worth considering. ITSPs have been leading the way in solutions and their transition will be less onerous. Marketing messages need to be layered, with the top layer first being the business executive’s solution, then a layer designed for technical IT staff and not shown to executives at all. This utilitarian shift has been happening for some time and is accelerating. The days of technical details are over, and the adolescence of technology begins with solutions focused on business needs.

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