Technical or Business: what’s your focus?
Two recent blog posts by Computer Weekly journalist Karl Flinders have caught my attention. In the first Karl writes that “things seem to be really quiet in the IT
Two recent blog posts by Computer Weekly journalist Karl Flinders have caught my attention. In the first Karl writes that “things seem to be really quiet in the IT outsourcing sector at present” and that he hasn’t seen any shoots of recovery yet this spring. While this might be true of the UK sector, it certainly isn’t true of the Polish outsourcing sector (and most of our customers are from Britain and other Western European countries). In fact for most Polish IT outsourcers haven’t seen a recession to recover from. While the lack of negative economic growth – or shrinkage – is fairly widespread across the Polish economy, as I have previously blogged, the IT sector in particular is doing very well.
Take Future Processing, for example. We’re growing faster than ever before, making it into the Deloitte Fast 50 for Central Europe for the first time and even coming in at 249 in the EMEA Fast 500, making us the fastest growing Polish software company in the Deloitte rankings. So while it may seem that we are bucking the UK trend, I don’t think we can say that the global IT outsourcing industry is not in recovery from the recession: many smaller firms are doing very well. In Karl’s second post, he includes some comments from Robert Morgan, CEO of Burnt Oak Partners about why the IT Outsourcing industry might seem quiet at present. One of Morgan’s points is that providers with a technical, not a business approach, are “wearing down the intrinsic value of IT outsourcing”. Until recently I was one of the technically-oriented and not business-focused executives Morgan says are responsible for underselling or mis-selling IT outsourcing. While I think his description is a bit harsh, I do see his point. We did create high-quality, customer-pleasing software that met all specifications, was delivered to time and budget and worked in the way the customer wanted. But we also developed as requested by our customers – software on demand, if you like – without really thinking about each company holistically and without creating an organic growth strategy for each customer. We did well but we wanted to develop further, delight our customers more. This led us to realise that being so technically oriented would ultimately limit what we could deliver and so we put into place a three pronged change strategy.
We are now business-focused, as well as being technically excellent. My point is that as technically-oriented service providers develop they naturally become more business-focused. I think this is due to needs and wants. If you want to be bigger you need to aim higher and wider. Perhaps as the technically-oriented companies grow to be more business-oriented, newer, smaller companies that are still very technically, ‘software on demand’ focused will take their place. Perhaps this is a stage in the evolution of IT outsourcing companies, because I don’t believe most successful companies will remain so technically-focused forever.”