Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Power of Empowerment

from Jan 2008 OurTech Network Update
Getting Your Vision into Focus
Wade Burgess, Vice President of Sales and Marketing

The Power Of Us. I know that’s not a grammatically correct sentence (or a complete statement) but since attending a video conference of the Tour de Force event recently I can’t seem to shake the message. We can learn a lot from observing major trends and recently successful companies. This idea is simple; work together with other great people and companies. How can you capitalize on this concept in your business? Read on to learn how one company will hit 10 figures THIS YEAR using The Power Of Us. was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, who pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple Web site. They are now the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services and the poster child for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). I distinctly remember many naysayers exclaiming how you couldn’t take CRM to the web, nor could you unseat leaders like Goldmine, ACT! and others. This year Salesforce will hit $1 B in revenue. A billion. In 8 years. I have clothes older than that. So what does this mean for your business? Quite a lot, I would imagine if you’re willing to put some thought into it.

Benioff’s vision was pretty simple on the surface. He knew that CRM users were primarily sales teams that wanted a system to manage and improve the sales process, margins, and customer communications. His company took responsibility for everything that was not core to his customers’ needs. They did the building, maintaining, hosting, staffing, developing and managing of infrastructure, hardware, bandwidth, facilities and all of the other factors that go into a successful business application. If you’re not technically inclined, stick with me here. Marc understood that his customers wanted to sell more products and maintain better relationships with their clients. They didn’t want to manage IT or fight with their internal IT departments over budgets and time lines. They wanted solutions right away, not after months of project timelines to get new apps installed. Salesforce delivered and started to expand the philosophy into other areas of business.

Understand I’m not pushing Saleforce here; I’m not even a customer of theirs. But I am a big fan of helping clients focus on their core competency and listening to their needs. Find out what your clients REALLY want, not just what you want to sell them or what you’re currently capable of. If you build a business around the concept of filling a true need your customers will love you and you’ll find business much more enjoyable. Be warned, it will stretch you and your concept of what is possible. Any great personal or business endeavor will stretch your thinking and cause you to come up with solutions to previously unanswered questions. That’s the thrill of it. Be willing to go there. Take the plunge to 100% dedication and you just may be surprised at who you’ll pass along the way.

The second major phase change Salesforce engaged in was to reach out to the software development community and allow them to access their infrastructure. As you can imagine, Salesforce has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in this infrastructure so why would they open it up to others? They knew that a programmer or development company is really good at programming. So what if they didn’t have to spend time and money putting servers, data centers, and databases together? What if they could leverage an infrastructure that already existed and just create really cool software to sell or use? I’m not a techie but I’d guess that was a pretty good message. And the market would prove it. Thus far over 61,200 applications have been built in this environment. Proof that you don’t have to be a genius in everything to make it big. Just be really good at what you do and find ways to allow others to leverage your strengths in ways that can be mutually beneficial.

On a small scale that is what we do at OurTech Solutions. Most of our clients are not in the field of technology nor do they care to be. They have taxes to file, cases to defend, real estate to appraise, and develop, manage, and sell, refrigeration units to sell and service, fences to build, patients to see, candidates to place, trailers to sell, trucks to drive, etc. So we manage their IT for them and become a business partner. We noticed that our clients wanted a predictable cost and unlimited access to us. So we delivered it and they appreciate us for it. Our customers are great at what they do and that drives us to be great at what we do.

We also found that many IT companies are very good at working on computers, servers, and responding to technology 911 calls. But they are often undercapitalized or light on staffing the business operations of the company. So we offer a platform that they can utilize to further advance their technology offerings and stabilize their cash flows. Much like the Salesforce platform for developers, our network management platform (the OurTech Manager) enables our affiliates to focus on what they do best.

If you are not in IT I have three pieces of advice. First, count your blessings. (Just kidding, for all you techies). Second, find ways to take on more responsibilities and allow your customers to focus on their core strengths. Third, see if there is a way to leverage infrastructure you already have in place and help your peers and customer to their jobs better. Remember a rising tide lifts all ships.