The place where all the box salespeople and I parted company was in their belief that boxes were hugely important and worth large amounts of my time and brainpower. Not so. Shipping and packing were important, but I had lots of other things to worry about. Basically, I wanted to think as little as possible about boxes, packing tape, shipping labels, and other shipping details.
Finally, one salesperson offered me a package deal including boxes, foam peanuts, bubble wrap, labels, and tape, plus warehousing at their end so we could buy large minimum quantities and get maximum discounts without using up our own severely limited storage space.
After having heard lots of talk about the glories of this kind of cardboard and that box-making process, this person was the only one who gave me what I really needed: no-brainer shipping materials ordering. He got our business based on a 10-minute no-nonsense sales call, plus a follow-up (telephone) call the next day with exact prices on the boxes we needed. (He had to check with his estimators, and did so.)
I then issued a quarterly P.O. based on our estimated usage, and my shipping clerk, Jimmy, ordered deliveries from our supplier whenever we got low. When “our” stock in the supplier’s warehouse droped below pre-agreed trigger points, the sales guy stopped by for me to sign a new order. This happened four or five times a year, and only took a few minutes each time.
Basically, the time I spent worrying about packing materials dropped from multiple hours a year to multiple minutes. The price we paid, because of our bulk-buy “hold until shipped” arrangement, was rock-bottom, too, which made our accountant happy.
How does this apply to IT?
Simple. As a shipping materials customer, all I cared about was how the product was going to affect me and the people who reported to me, not exact tech specs. And while I cared about price less than about convenience and reliability, it was still a factor.
So if you own a programming business or do other IT consulting work, what do you think your customers want from you?
The same as I wanted from my packing materials supplier, I bet: no hassles, reliability, and a decent price.
I have no idea whether that packing materials vendor used DOS, Unix or a single-vendor proprietary system like Basic-4.
Do you think your customers today really care whether you supply software written in C++, Java or .NET? Not really, as long as it works well and doesn’t cost more than similarly reliable alternatives.
Remember to think about your customer’s viewpoint when you make sales calls, and you will make more sales, with less effort, than you will with a 100-slide presentation full of circles and arrows showing, in grievous technical detail, exactly how your software or hardware works.
So this isn’t a one-month statistical blip. It’s a serious shift in IT employment.
Foote says, “The trend of employers no longer wishing to employ large numbers of their own full-timers in what are mostly pure technology IT jobs has been building over a very long period of time.” We now have managed services, offshoring, and “the cloud,” all of which cut the need for traditional (or at least traditionally-titled) IT workers.
But, says Foote, “by far the biggest force of all shaping change in jobs and in the overall composition of the IT workforce has been the fact that the role of information technology in the enterprise is now so pervasive that managing it is distributed throughout the enterprise.”
So over here you have a couple of people in the marketing department who just happen to have mad IT skillz. And over there you have a few who are pretty good programmers but are part of a mechanical engineering team instead of being locked behind a door with a sign on it that says, “Here There Be Programmers.”
Foote says his research shows that these “multiskilled IT-business specialists outnumber the traditionally skilled IT workforce by roughly four to one.”
But the federal government’s job statistics haven’t caught up with this shift in IT employment practices, so all we know about these new multiskilled IT-business specialists is that there are a whole bunch of them — he estimates around 20 million — out there, and that government agencies undercount them because they don’t fit into traditional job pigeonholes.
“Does this mean I should go back to school?”
Maybe it does. If there’s an employment field outside of IT that winds your stem, check it out. If you’re interested in marketing, Foote says you should look at marketing studies — or at getting some direct marketing experience, which is better to have in today’s business climate than a degree or other “paper” certification.
But whatever you do, be glad that you’re in a field where demand isn’t dropping the way it is for, say, American (and even Chinese) furniture factory workers.
A little adroit resume-wrangling, coupled, perhaps, with a willingness to move, can make a person with IT experience and skills among the most employable and best-paid workers in the world.
Link: Foote Partners study quoted above.]]>
I know the CEO, Larry Augustin, pretty well. In fact, I found out about these jobs because he and I are Facebook friends and he posted SugarCRM’s hiring needs on Facebook.
When you apply, you can tell them I know Larry and that I sent you. It probably won’t do any good, but hey! It’s worth a try, right?]]>