Timing is everything in this world. I have always been a day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes, but you just may have perfect timing. In fact, we just may be entering the beginning of the golden age for solution providers.
Why do I say this? Because we have passed beyond the age of speeds and feeds and are moving into the beginning stages of the customization period of the technology sales market. This concept is well documented in Clayton M. Christensen and Michael E. Raynor's 2003 book "The Innovator's Solution," which categorizes the evolution of industries.
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In the early stages of this industry, customers had a need that was only partially being satisfied by the product speeds and feeds that were available to them—they needed better technology than was readily available and were willing to pay handsomely for it. The result was an incessant desire on the part of suppliers to leapfrog each other with ever-improving product features.
But at some point the needs of the customer are met. Then, it's no longer about the speeds and feeds and more about customization. That's where you come in, and virtualization is a great example of this. It wasn't all that long ago when we were populating the market with mail servers and application servers and so on. Today it's about making a single server act like multiple servers.
Remember when we sold PCs based on the speed of the microprocessor? That just doesn't happen today. It's frankly the reason why Microsoft's conversion to new operating systems takes so long. When we first moved from DOS to Windows, the entire world jumped to make the shift. Today, Vista is slowly building.
This new period will require you to think more about your marketing expertise than you have in the past. Sure, technical expertise is still important, but to drive your business you are going to have to get better at marketing. In the end, customers want someone who understands their business and is able to satisfy their needs with a customized solution. So your ability to market your expertise is going to be more important than a vendor's ability to market its brand.
The world is your oyster, as they say.