Monthly Archives: May 2012

Would you pay to watch an infomercial?

Women selecting a TV channelThe majority of people I asked answered with a resounding “No!”

I then asked a follow-up question, “Would you pay to participate in a training course in which a significant measure of the content was a direct sales pitch for a specific product or service?” The responses were the same … “No!”

Let us move from realm of the generic and make the question business related.  “Would you pay a salesperson to sell you their company’s product or service?”   Again, I was on the receiving end of a reverberating chorus of “No!”

In today’s uncompromising economic times no one should argue against the belief that their organization’s training budget must be spent wisely and effectively. So why would you pay for a training course that limits itself to delivering knowledge on only one potential solution, approach or product to solve your business issue?

Let me enrich and further illustrate the point I am trying to make with a graphic example.

When the topic of Cloud Computing was raised at HayBeeSea Corporation’s 10:00AM Strategy Team meeting, the committee’s chairperson, John Forthright declared, “Before we start; all the decision-makers will need all the facts right up-front. We must have all the latest decision criteria and collective wisdoms available. Only then can we make informed and effective plans for a possible transition to Cloud Computing as a tool for reducing cost, and gaining the agility we so desperately need to grow the business.”

One of the attendees said that he had read a quote that stated quite emphatically, “We will only arrive at Cloud Computing success when the business decisions drive the technology decisions!”  There were nods of consensus for all in the room.

Another attendee said that he knew someone at a Cloud Service Provider or CSP that offered courses on how to get started on a Cloud Computing journey. There was an instantaneous buzz around the table, and someone boldly exclaimed, “George, get your buddy on the phone today and set up a course for us!”

Woman with a laptop computerThe customarily quiet woman who represented the CFO’s team suddenly sat upright in her chair and interjected, “A few moments ago Mr. Forthright said that we need all the latest decision criteria and collective wisdoms available. Only then, he said, can we make informed and effective plans.  How do we know that is what we will get from one CSP?  Can we guarantee that the course will not be a thinly disguised masquerade or infomercial for their proprietary solution? Our initial training course needs to be from someone who is ‘business-Swiss’ … another way of saying vendor neutral.”

John Forthright applauded softly and then wrote the following on the whiteboard:

  • Need to understanding of all the critical business criteria and components that encompass the effective choice of a CSP
  • Must have systematic guidance to an all-encompassing and logically sequenced process that will greatly improve the outcome of our Strategy Team’s CSP selection to the benefit of company
  • This will undisputedly be one of the single most important business decisions we will need to make … and get right!

Let us examine the implication and consequence of the last bullet more closely. In this example where the ultimate goal is a business-effective Cloud Computing transition. I echo the words of my friend and colleague, Walt Lapinsky … “The Cloud is not a product.  The Cloud is a technology.  The Cloud is not simple”

Business people applaudingWith all of these prudent points in mind the search may now began for the right initial courses. Courses that would fulfill the goals emblazoned across the whiteboard.

In a research paper published in December 2010 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Web Hosting the Gartner organization warned everyone to be deliberate and systematic in creating the list of potential vendors  for their Cloud Computing strategy and business needs; as the services they offered “are all unique and evolving rapidly, and vendors must be chosen with care.” Yes! Every CSP will offer a different set or “smorgasbord” of services. Get the wrong set and your business can lose traction in the marketplace or even fail. The greater the knowledge base and decision matrix the better the odds of making “one of the single most important business decisions we will need to make … and get right!” This is why “business-Swiss” or vendor-neutral training is the logical start point.

Was George’s suggestion in the meeting out of line? No, it was just out of sequence. Prudent use of the training budget to get “guidance to an all-encompassing and logically sequenced selection process” and “critical business criteria” will help the Strategy Team make the right business decisions. The CSP’s solution specific training will be invaluable once the team is certain that they have made the right choice.