By: Stephanie Hurd on September 3rd, 2020
Who is Innovative’s Ideal Customer?
Your business isn’t just like anyone else’s. So, why would you work with vendors who claim to help everyone? You’re not everyone. You have specific things you’re trying to accomplish.
You might be expanding into a different market, researching new products and services, or preparing to downsize as you approach retirement. Your service providers must align with where you’re trying to go. They must help you get closer to that goal. Otherwise, what are you paying them for?
Innovative is a managed service provider. We handle everything in your business that plugs into a network jack (or has a wireless connection) – that’s your servers, computers, phones, printers, and copiers.
By that description, it sounds like most any business could be a great Innovative customer. But here’s the not-so-secret secret, anyone with some basic tech skills can install and troubleshoot computers, servers, phones, printers, and copiers (i.e., technology). Innovative’s value comes from helping businesses communicate better and generate more useful information (i.e., money-making information) with their technology.
Long story short, it doesn’t make sense for you to hire us if technology can’t make a positive impact on your business and profitability.
How Would Technology Impact My Business?
Computers, servers, phones, printers, and copiers (i.e., business technology) are just objects used for information and communication. They are just the tools. Leveraging those tools for results is a different skill set. In other words, a fool with a tool is still a fool. If improving or securing information and communication can’t improve your business, technology can’t improve your business.
When we do our job right, we help you generate better information and communication. When we do our jobs really well, that information and communication lead to better and faster decisions and increased profitability.
Innovative customers allow us to learn the nuances of their business. When we understand the way a business communicates and uses information, we can manage their technology in a way that lets them communicate better and generate more useful information.
Characteristics of an Ideal Innovative Client
The companies that see the most positive results from partnering with us share most of these six characteristics:
- They are growing or want to grow as market leaders in their space.
- They are open to using new technologies and driving organizational change.
- They invest in tools and training for their people.
- They depend on knowledge workers to deliver their product or service.
- They have a mature leadership model, or are building one.
- They are financially sound.
1. They are growing or want to grow as market leaders.
Market leaders are innovators (just like us! – pun intended). They’re always trying new things. They seek opportunities to offer new products and services or do things differently than their competitors. Innovators are willing to fail. They don’t get stuck in lengthy decision-making processes. They’re not afraid of failure and are eager to give new things a try. If something works, they adopt it in their day-to-day operations. If it doesn’t work, they efficiently evaluate the failure and move on to the next thing.
They rely on human capital for creative problem-solving and solution-building. These businesses have to leverage technology to provide data and automate processes and repetitive tasks.
They’re willing to invest in consolidating and automating processes to free up human capital. That’s where we come in. We help innovators find opportunities for automation and consolidation, giving their talent the time and space to create and innovate.
2. They are open to using new technologies and driving organizational change.
Some businesses view technology as a fact of life and a necessary evil. They resist replacing old computers, upgrading software, or adopting new tools until they have no choice. They’re forced into upgrades when antiquated software is no longer compatible with the new computer they replaced only because the old one was beyond repair. This approach is sufficient (we don’t recommend it, but we’re biased toward the power of technology) for businesses that don’t require advanced data analysis or multi-channel communication.
Many businesses reach a point when they need more information and data analysis to make better decisions. For example, a cleaning company owner knows how much to charge her first customers based on the time she spends with them and the supplies she purchases. She operates her business with a cell phone, a laptop, and some basic spreadsheets. As she grows, she adopts time tracking and inventory software. She holds employees accountable for using the tools and entering accurate data. She uses the information to make sure employees are spending reasonable amounts of time with each customer and set prices based on the time and resources consumed by different types of clients.
We help these types of businesses identify new technology that can streamline their business and help them prioritize investments based on the business use case. We also assist in planning and budgeting for future investments.
3. They invest in tools and training for their people.
Technology is only as powerful as the humans who use it. Businesses that get the most return on their technology investments use the tools to their fullest potential. Giving people the tools isn’t enough, though. Training must accompany any new tool or procedure. Otherwise, your team will never fully embrace or adopt it.
Microsoft Teams use during the COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example. Before the pandemic, many businesses adopted MS Teams for its instant messaging capability. Few organizations used the voice and video communication functions within MS Teams. Even fewer companies used MS Teams as a document-sharing solution.
When the pandemic forced a transition to a remote workforce, businesses that already embraced a culture of technology and training more readily adopted the full suite of features offered by MS Teams. They solved many of the challenges of a remote workforce with a tool they already used. Those were the businesses that didn’t miss a beat during the remote work transition. They were on their feet with a fully-functional (and in some cases even more productive) remote workforce in a matter of hours. Their employees were already well-versed in the capabilities of their tools, and they had training resources ready to fill in skill gaps in remote work technologies or procedures.
Businesses that look to maximize the investment in their people must give their people the tools and training to succeed.
Innovative helps clients identify what tools people need to do their jobs. The most successful clients embrace those tools and provide the training necessary for their team to use them.
4. They depend on knowledge workers to deliver their product or service.
Peter F. Druker (aka the man who invented management), coined the term knowledge worker in 1959. Knowledge workers are people paid to think and problem solve. They deal in information and include anyone from attorneys and accountants to pharmacists and doctors.
Druker coined the term to describe a shift in the economy, “to an age when people would generate value with their minds more than with their muscle.”
Druker wrote about the function of businesses that employ knowledge workers in a 1992 Harvard Business Review article. “The organization’s function is to put knowledge to work—on tools, products, and processes; on the design of work; on knowledge itself.”
Technology’s purpose in your business is to process information and communication. Knowledge workers rely on information and require communication platforms to collect and disseminate information to other parts of the team. Technology tools are essential to knowledge workers’ abilities to work.
Knowledge workers are not exclusively white-collar. Manufacturing, a traditional blue-collar industry, made a shift to knowledge workers as facilities require fewer employees to physically produce things and more employees to program and troubleshoot automated equipment.
Whether your business is traditionally white-collar or blue-collar, the more knowledge workers you have, the more of a return you can generate from the right technology investments. Innovative comes in by helping businesses evaluate, plan for, and invest in the right technologies to maximize the return on their investments.
5. They have a mature leadership model, or are building one.
The characteristics of the businesses we’re describing in this article don’t happen by chance. They require intentional leadership efforts. Mature leadership has nothing to do with a leader’s age. Mature leaders are self-aware, value the team over themselves, and respond to situations in calculated ways that move the organization toward a goal.
Mature leadership is necessary to motivate people, lead change, and move an entire organization toward a larger goal. Technology drives information and communication capacity. Leadership drives people. Technology alone can’t solve a problem. It requires leadership driving people to use the tools and focus on the right priorities to drive the entire organization.
Business leaders can’t also be business technology experts. They need advisors who are tech experts. Their advisors must prioritize the business ahead of the technology (e.g., they must make technology conform to the business and not expect the business to conform to the technology).
Innovative is that business technology advisor. We guide leaders to invest their resources in the right technology and eliminate technical incompatibilities and redundancies.
Let’s revisit the cleaning company example.
The owner comes to us and says, “Hey, I need a new time tracking and inventory software to give me the data I need to make decisions.”
We help her evaluate the software and make sure it’s compatible with her current infrastructure. It is, but we know she’s going to upgrade her server next year. Rather than install new software and integrate it with other solutions on the old server, only to migrate everything in less than a year, we advise her to upgrade the server along with the software project. This maximizes the investment she’s making in the time to set up the new software this year, and eliminates the need to duplicate that time and effort again next year when the server is due for replacement.
6. They are financially sound.
Here it is—the elephant in the room. There was a lot of talk about your technology investment in the past 1,400+ words, and the sugar coating stops here. Investment is a less abrasive way to say money. You have to spend money to embrace technology. You have to spend money to generate the most useful information and communication.
Innovative shows you where to spend your money on technology and what results to expect. If you’re in the financial position to make three- to five-year projections, we can plan for the tools to achieve your long-term goals. If you’re in a place to put money away for a rainy day, we can equip you with the infrastructure to track your business cycles.
In addition to money in the bank, creditworthiness plays into your options. Businesses with a good credit history can free up cash with different types of hardware as a service models. These options let you lease or rent equipment for the device’s anticipated lifespan. You pay one monthly fee for the hardware, service, support, and warranty. Cell phone companies have used this model for years. You sign up for your cell phone plan, and the carrier lumps in a lease payment for the device. At a certain point in the agreement, you have the option to continue paying off the phone until you own it, or you can turn it and renew your contract with an upgraded device.
We can’t keep your lights on, and we can’t help you make payroll if you struggle to cover basic costs each month. A floundering business that’s barely scraping by isn’t in a position to think about new tools and five-year plans.
That doesn’t mean you’ll never partner with us. But you must get your finances in order before you’re ready to partner with us.
We Want to Help Your business
Our ultimate goal is to help your business. Usually, that means helping you grow, but we can also help you stay the course or prepare to downsize if you see your business in these six characteristics.
We didn’t pull these characteristics out of a hat; we’ve learned through two decades and hundreds of clients what traits lead to the most successful partnerships. Life is too short to spend your time on dead-end relationships (in both life and business). We’re putting it all out there so that we can develop the most productive relationships right from the start.
You might have read this and thought, “wow, I’d like to be that kind of business, but I’m not sure I’m there yet. Am I still a good fit for Innovative?” The answer is yes, but only if you’re willing to learn and grow into a business that embodies these characteristics.
If you’re open to the power of technology, can see yourself embracing these characteristics, and want to create better results through better information and communication, let’s get started.