IT companies have an obligation to deliver real benefits to their customers. We have a social as well as commercial contract with our customers. For too long many IT companies have pursued more sizzle than substance by listening to the marketing department more than customers. And they do this in the belief that sizzle sells.

Yeah, sizzle may sell IT but does it give a business oxygen? Rarely!

How many hardware and software advances really help their users improve the return they get from their IT investment? Ask them and all will claim they do. Ask their customers and many will be judged as not helping.

I’m suspicious – especially the hardware and software upgrades people have to pay for.

IT companies ought to have a ‘green’ policy – one which sees systems used to their fullest before they are discarded. This can apply to software code as much as hardware. Sure it impacts the bottom line through less upgrade business. But surely it will win more business from new customers wanting to partner with a company which helps a user extract maximum value from the investment before pushing you to spend more.

My company is in the independent retail space – almost at the end of the IT food chain. The dollars available for IT are low and their interest in rising software support and update fees non existent. So we have had to learn how to grow our business without relying on upgrade revenue and rising prices. (We have not increased software support licence and support fees for more than four years.) We provide a broad range of help to ensure achievement of maximum value.

I have customers who have used the same hardware and software for ten and even fifteen years and more. Now that’s a return. But I bet you only find systems of that age in the small business and or independent retail sector. It thrills me to know that a fifteen year old bit of software is still valuable for a customer. That’s green software for you!

It bothers me when I see the biennial annual push by Microsoft and some of the other majors for long standing users to pass across too much money for mediocre updates. Down at the other end of the software developer chain there are companies delivering more valuable software updates at no cost at all. Yet Microsoft are the heroes to the world. That’s because people get sucked in by their hype that everything they do is good for you and the world.

It also bothers me when I see companies developing hardware and software of no real value. It happens too often. There are some good stories on the Net about abandoned products. Do a search for whatever happened to on Google and read about plenty of abandoned products purchased by hapless businesses. What amount of money has been on such wasted technology? Who knows!

Sure we’re in business to make money. I believe that we will make more for our software businesses if we genuinely engage with our customers and help them ensure a maximum return. We cannot fake this. We have to rely on customer feedback that they are better off this year having partnered with your company.

Go into the office on Monday and check our your R&D spend. Make sure it’s about your customers more than it is about sizzle you plan to use to lure sales. You have an obligation.

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