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The stars that we see at night aren’t where they appear to be; we look back through time as we gaze at the skies. Yes, they were once there,  a millennium or two ago, but no longer burn bright. Does this analogy hold true with the stars of Big Tech? As smaller start-ups, they were once highly creative, intuitive and nimble. Major tech companies continue to successfully leverage their brands, but in many cases their marketing campaigns outpace their product introductions.

In the perplexing realm of big tech vendors nothing is quite what it seems. The onslaught of multi-million dollar sales and marketing campaigns could easily be mistaken for a genie in a bottle. Except in this tech wonderland, we awake before enjoying our wishes. Left with only the memory of what was wished for, or worse yet, with a contract signed and a purchase order for more than half of your yearly budget.

However, it is easy to acknowledge that throngs of the best and brightest minds have passed through the halls of Big Tech. Their legacy will always be a part of our technology history. However today, great minds are stifled by reorgs and process on top of process. Although publicly heralded, internally, innovation is viewed as an impediment to daily office harmony instead of a celebrated quality. Rocking the boat is frowned upon.

Big tech has an inherent need to keep and grow its massive market shares. Their departmental budgets likely beat the total budgets of a majority of the companies in the world. They often use their campaigns to push the implementation of multiple technology solutions to solve challenges. Recycled solutions are wrapped with slick new marketing campaigns and an army of sales reps are equipped with the tools to over-promise and under deliver.

Complexities and multiple platforms are the way of life for the incumbent players in the market today. Today’s flat or decreasing IT budgets call for a more cost-effective approach that intelligently manages information and allows for the exploding demand for enterprise wide information governance.

Technology companies are required to be nimble and responsive to these challenges. The market demands products faster than ever before, with greater flexibility in purchasing agreements. That requires a more efficient organization with fewer layers of bureaucracy to ensure that idea’s don’t get stuck in endless meetings.

In today’s market, nimble companies with tight iteration cycles are primed to lead the charge in legacy system replacement. Adaptation of methodologies, like the developer focused Agile Scrum, allow teams to iterate in one, two or three week cycles; providing deliverable results in weeks rather than quarters.

The key to avoid the pitfalls presented by the “fault in our stars,” is to look past the million dollar campaigns. Market share does not equal quality. Technology startups can’t afford to hide behind million dollar marketing. They must rely solely on the superiority of their product. They must stay focused on emerging business realities and challenges. They must deliver real measurable business results.

As legacy systems continue to be replaced, good-enough is no longer ok. In the past, purchasing solutions from [insert big tech company here] would likely not get you fired, even if the project failed. That same comfort is no longer available.

It’s more important now than ever to seek out the best and brightest innovators in your space. Talk to them. Engage them. Learn from them and share with them your challenges. They are hungry to deliver results.

You will likely soon find out that you’ve come closer than ever in actually solving the problem, and will likely still have money in the budget for the other initiatives you’re looking to accomplish for the year.

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