I’ve been thinking a lot lately about one question: What actually makes a company different? I started to consider this question in reference to my own company, but then I thought about it in a larger sense. What makes any company different? It seems that you can rattle off a few attributes that might make a company different, but I would say each of those could be replicated. Perhaps not to the same degree, but certainly close enough to present little differentiation to a prospective client. IT Company
So is anyone actually different? I think so. But how? In the details…
The problem is that no one looks that different from 30,000 feet or from a spreadsheet. Let’s take the Four Seasons hotel and your local Motel 6. We all know these brands well enough to recognize the canyon of difference between the two – but how? They both offer beds, a door with a lock, some sort of breakfast, etc. The mechanics of each company are virtually the same. They are both hotels. And so goes the comparison for IT companies. They both have monitoring, backups, anti-virus, on-site support, response time guarantees, and so on. So how are these hotel chains different? And how are IT companies different? Again, the details.
How are you greeted when you show up to a Four Seasons? What about Motel 6? How does the room smell in each? How clean are the carpets? How is the view from the window? How does each handle issues and complaints? You can see where I’m going with this. It’s not any one thing that makes them different – it’s all the things put together!
So let’s apply that level of analysis to IT companies in some select categories.
- How does your IT company provide strategic guidance?
- Leverage creates a Technology Roadmap that prioritizes your company goals and matches them with the required technology.
- How is network maintenance handled?
- We have an extremely detailed standard that maps every point in your infrastructure so it can be maintained to the highest degree possible.
- How is service performance evaluated?
- At Leverage, every service encounter is recorded and reviewed. Those encounters are then compiled into a report that is presented and evaluated by the client with full context.
- How is the service experience managed?
- We look at the service experience like coming home for Thanksgiving. It shouldn’t happen everyday, but when it does everyone should know exactly what you like. We filter every decision and interaction through this mindset.
These are just a few factors in a complex relationship. The fact is that every IT company has problems and their clients have issues as a result. If you fire your IT company because a server crashed then you will continue to be disappointed. It’s just a part of life that servers will crash. No one can prevent that. However, you should judge your IT company on how they prepared for and handled the crash. Did they have proper backups in place? Did they have a virtual infrastructure that could easily tolerate a single system failure? Was redundancy of access built into the architecture? You may have a hard time answering these questions if your IT company hasn’t discussed and described the nature of your architecture.
A lot of companies evaluate their potential IT firms with a spreadsheet. But how do you file the IT company’s ability to provide strategic guidance in a spreadsheet? How do you account for their emotional commitment to your success? How do you judge their consistency and reliability in Excel? You can’t. You can’t do that any more than you can evaluate a doctor through a spreadsheet. Or assign a value to a sculpture with a formula.
So the answer to my question of differentiation is a resounding yes. Every company is different in so many ways. It’s up to that company to show you how they differ and why it matters. It’s up to you to take the time to find the difference. All companies will be happier with that outcome.
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