There is an entire pseudo-science dedicated to telling managers just what kind of potential employee they might be hiring. Are you a leader or a follower? What personality type are you? What four letters does Briggs Myers spot you as? What’s your DISC profile?
In reality just about everyone that can figure out an iPhone can figure out what the right answer is for the role they are applying for. These things become somewhat of an astrology, palm reading, biorythm, ora glow, horoscope, etc – utter nonsense that’s true enough if you believe hard enough and are refusing to consider every other time when those things are just dead wrong.
But… I, Vlad Mazek, Certified Life Coach & Nutritional Expert, have come up with a fool proof way to determine if you should fire your staff and replace them with someone new.
Step 1: Post the image above to your Facebook wall.
Step 2: Most of your employees will ignore it. Smart. If your employees like your link, they are probably harmlessly wasting time. If they comment on the link they are likely bored, reassign them to data entry. If, god forbid, they share the link as something profound fire them immediately and sue them for theft of company resources (that way you don’t have to worry about being called for references and employment checks as Google will just turn up the case details).
I call this the Mazek-Goldegg Social Media Profiler. You can read all about it in my 240 page book that will be coming out in January. Do you want to find the hard working, ethical, driven, considerate and reasonably intelligent workforce that will thrive with an in your business serving your best interests each and every day, guaranteed? If you read that run on pile of garbage more than once and thought it made perfect sense there is a marketing toolkit I’d like to sell you. Only $999 if you pay right now, breaks even with the first employee you shitcan through the proven peer group reviewed process.
Joke aside, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and have closed November on a high note. I wish you lots of success, happiness (and less idiots sharing bullshit on your feed) in December and hope you are working hard on your plans for 2016.
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Now I know these sorts of posts aren’t popular (after all, everyone wants uninformed predictions about 2016 ala Nostradumbass of IT) but they are necessary. As you know, I’m a huge fan of not fighting the calendar and doing business every single day – but towards the end of the year you need to kick into a new gear because people with big budgets and decisions that need to be made are making them as things slow down – December. So here is a quickie checklist that I go through. Hope it works for you.
Focus on company
– Sit down with the CFO, CPA, another CPA and discuss new tax strategies, rules, etc. If you employ people in multiple states (or do business on multiple continents) it’s time to look over the new rules.
– Once you know what the rules are… design a game plan around it. At ExchangeDefender we are launching 3 major new products and one large line of business, all of which we need to let people know about before the 1st.
Focus on staff
– What do you need to do in order to keep them employed? My people never believe me when I say “I am the most thankful for you because without you, I’d have to do your job” – But I used to, after all this at one point was just me. And every day that I don’t have to think about something is a day in paradise city. Here are some things to consider:
– Not everyone is the same
– Everyone doesn’t get motivated by the same benefits
– It’s usually something stupid that they need/want that you never would have imagined. But that’s sort of the thing, when you have a grain of sand in your shoe and you have to deal with it every day.. it’s a big deal
– “What do you want to do next year” – Everyone has projects, ideas, kids, life issues, etc. Sort them out.
Focus on clients
– Thanks. Thank you for all your money.
– What can we do better? It’s clear you keep on paying us for some reason, what else can we do better to make your life easier. Just like employees, everyone you deal with has a relationship with you and it’s on you to make everyone happy.
– How is business? What sort of issues are your clients facing? How can you help?
This is pretty much a boss shirt at OWN but “What are you working on?” is an ever present thing if you’re in IT – our field changes all the time and if you keep on doing the same thing one day you’ll lift your head up from the desk and be out of a job.
The last part of the last month of the year is an inward look to evaluate what you are doing to drive your business forward, to make your employees more fulfilled and what your clients need you to do. What are you doing to make people happier? More successful? More effective? More valuable?
I always shake my head during the partner calls when people say “Nothing new, just busy” to me. Business is an evolution of your service – to your staff, to your clients, to your community. You need to be moving, not busy. Really busy all of a sudden – outsource, contract, chop, sell: You shouldn’t be busy. You should be profitable and valuable. Busy is the word people who stuff envelopes for $7.75/hr do at home because they looked at classifieds in the newspaper at the low point in their life and ended up in a job about to be nuked by a robot. It’s for telemarketers. It’s for burger flippers during lunch rush. It’s not for IT. If you’re busy, you’re screwed.
Close 2015 like 2016 will be the best year of your business. For ExchangeDefender, Own Web Now, Shockey Monkey, etc it has been and it will be – and I thank you all for that. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
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For a moment let’s ignore political affiliations. Let’s ignore whatever you may feel towards Snowden’s brain dump that exposed just how much the US government violates your privacy. Let’s ignore that our government is thoroughly incapable of preventing terrorist attacks: From commander in chief holding his dick and reading kids stories (while passenger aircraft are slamming into WTC and Pentagon) to the tens of thousands of TSA agents that continue to let stuff slip. Let’s even ignore the nationality, religion, motive, mental health – We live in a nation where we are getting murdered without regard for the color of our skin or the content of our character. It’s sad.
There are widespread calls from our politicians, lobbyists and virtually every other scared mouthpiece on TV to further violate your privacy by putting loopholes and backdoors into encryption products and services you use every single day.
The argument is as follows:
(paraphrasing) “These terrorists are using strong encryption to go dark and we have no ways or means to monitor or track them. We are asking companies like Apple, Microsoft, etc to create backdoors in their systems so that government can break encryption and help protect the country by spying on the terrorism suspects”
Sounds seemingly harmless, right?
Except when those backdoors go in, it’s just a matter of time till they are hacked, exposed and used to violate your right to privacy.
Except that there is literally no oversight over who has access to these systems, for what purpose and under what terms.
Except that government already has access to tons of this information already and is incapable (or unwilling to act on it).
Think about what is sitting in your iPhone right now – your bank accounts, your pictures, your home surveillance system (alarm, camera, thermostat), your travel patterns and your location data everything down to your blood pressure and whether you had a nightmare last night.
Giving government the right to break that encryption on demand, without oversight, without due process and without accountability – when they have proven that they cannot prevent disasters even when they have full intelligence, plenty of warning and time – should give you pause to hopefully ask yourself for what purpose they actually want all this data for if it’s not for catching criminals and preventing mass murders.
Now for a moment allow me to get more specific on the subject of sophistication of planning a terrorist attack in plain sight. ISIS, ISIL, IS or whatever you call them are not hiding: They are publishing stuff using their Twitter accounts, just like you and me. They even have a magazine.
Why isn’t our government shutting those accounts down? Why aren’t they taking their Youtube channels and videos down? Why are their forums still online? Why does the US government – through extreme threats, subpoenas and law enforcement force Internet Service Providers to keep these sites up even after they violate terms of service and cause the said company a public black eye as a terrorism supporter – because the government needs to be able to track them.
So aspiring terrorists, in the third world are granted more civil liberties and free public hate speech but US citizens are being asked to forgo their right to privacy in order to do what?
We live in a free country. We pay a huge price for that.
Let’s not allow handful of would be terrorists half the world away to take away our rights, our liberties and our privacy. If the US government feels so strongly about censorship, privacy violations, curbing free speech and so on may I recommend the following: Go after Youtube. Go after Twitter. Go after Facebook (WhatsApp). Go after Snapchat. All of these are for profit corporations based in United States – shut off the terrorists access to social media, to their funding – which they are doing in public.
As we have seen after 9/11, government is very quick to take civil liberties away (Patriot act) and very slow to give it away. It’s quick to detain, harass and intimidate citizens (TSA) but remains completely unaccountable and begging for even more.
And just one final observation:
If terrorists truly hate America, our freedoms, our way of life – then they are doing a marvelous job of helping our government take them away from us.
Terrorist state, half the world away, which there is lots of evidence was set up and funded by us (along with pictures of their leadership with Senator McCain) launches a small scale terrorist attack and all of a sudden US citizens should give up their privacy?
Think about it. Then go download PGP.
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There is a reason why 40oz beer comes in a plastic bottle, they know that by the time your life has fallen to the point that you’ve pounded one by yourself some bloodshed is about to occur. Or in the IT world, you’ve reached the level of being a product manager of an application framework, aka API:
API: Aspiring Programmer Improvises (better known by it’s marketing term Application Programming Interface) is a Buddhist take on the modern software development where two otherwise unrelated parties independently conspire to induce great pain and suffering on a third party unintentionally. Have you ever wanted to punch someone in the face really hard for no reason but were afraid of the consequences?
Fear not. You can be an API developer.
Now, I cannot say what I really want to say on this topic because people get really upset. Here is how API championing work is done.
Step 1: Someone from marketing fails at marketing. You can’t trust those people with swag anymore but people like them because they handed out a lot of swag in their lifetime so now they are responsible for the least accountable part of the development process: convincing other companies to put their intro level developer apprentices and interns into splicing the crap together so it barely passes Q&A. On a Friday.
Step 2: Well, thing is, we don’t really have the money for this. Or time to train you. Or really any motivation to explain this to you but here are 3 year old help files we wrote and here is this guys phone number – he refactored our code a while back and almost has it working so bother him.
Step 3: Thing barely works. Intern uses Babelfish to translate what he thinks his project does and sends it off to marketing. They set aside $50,000 for banners, booths and collateral explaining how this will make their piece of software bigger than Microsoft Windows in the 90s and perhaps even more relevant to modern life than fire and round wheels.
That is exactly how it works. Every software company, ever.
Now this is where the people who don’t work in software development should really just STFU and repost crap fed to them by marketing.. but they don’t.. so let me clear it up for you. It’s not about Open API. Those words don’t mean what you think they mean. Literally everyone will open up their API (i.e. introduce you to the spaghetti code written by last summers intern) just to avoid a lawsuit. They don’t break competitiveness by “opening” their API or providing this mythical “intellectual property” any developer working for $3/hr in Bangalore can refactor and implement. No. The way you crush your software business enemies isn’t with lawyers and restrictions and NDA and confidentiality. From the Art of War by Sun Tzu:
To defeat your software enemies you must give them the illusion of weakness. Open your API. Then defeat them through plausibly deniable incompetence, constant changes, lack of documentation, lack of accountability and robo-updated support requests sent to the purgatory (aka QA/dev).
By now most of real developers are ripping out their hair. Kiddding. You’re already bald. But seriously, let’s kill this bullshit myth of open API. It’s not about defeating your enemy with a “no” – it’s about perpetual emasculation of their credibility through constant changes, delays, promised features, bad documentation, and so on. If you’re not evil enough already, follow these simple steps:
Illusion of an API is more powerful than an API
The best way to get people excited about working with you is to completely get them vested into your mutual failure. Invite every developer you know to your development meeting and treat them with the Magna Carta of false hope: a yellow note pad. Sit in front of the room with a pen in hand and say “What would you like us to open up in our API next?”
This same methodology is used by 900 sex lines (are those still around?) where you pay $3.99 for the first minute and $0.99 for each additional minute as you explain exactly what kind of fantasy you want. Except with the removed benefit of having to keep your pants on. Euphoria is still the same. Sell them on the fantasy of two unrelated platforms freely exchanging information.
Bring your own bastard. Other developers might be snarky, sarcastic or god forbid actually call you out on your bullshit. It’s good to have a real developer there, crouching in the corner behind the podium to assertively dismiss any idea or misconceptions that might lead to additional work. Remember, it’s not about opening up your API and creating further workload that won’t give you any additional revenue streams. It’s all about hope and dreams.
If you and your bastard developer dance well the whole room will leave with hope that things will work but everyone will mutually hope it doesn’t go beyond people actually trying to use the frankenstein and lead to more support.
But that one dude will still try
Some people have too much time on their hands. So they’ll try to turn your pile of body parts, failed projects, Fiver contributions, open source files dragged into the wrong folder and a company logo into a fully functioning system. Let’s face it, you’ve failed as a product manager. Take accountability, admit fault and resign. Or…. Make those bitches pay:
Step 1: Randomly change your API without notice. This is the simplest way to break someone at their core and send them down the swirling vortex or uninformed people and half hearted escalations. It buys you at least a month or two. It’s like giving someone an overcooked steak and a double edged knife to cut it with – the harder they try to prove it’s not their fault the more they bleed!
Step 2: Keep the API the same but change data types. This way you can claim that your API has not changed but it will break the integration nonetheless. You used to have a txt field? Well toodaaloo motherfucker, it’s encoded HTML now.
Step 3: Rate limits without documentation. Some people will straight up make it past the hair pulling and bleeding all over their keyboard – too late for Sun Tzu methods now – it’s time to go on full Chinese water torture now. Drip. Drip. Drip. Make your system randomly drop API calls and requests at certain hour. On certain days. For certain vendors. Make sure you have your vendors pass an ID string so you can randomly discriminate against them. Don’t bother randomizing this, even when you get called out on it so what – it’s their word against yours, here have a free tshirt.
Step 4: Come up with a new API. Let’s face it, eventually people will grow tired of your incompetent/evil stuff and to fix this stalemate they will fix it with the new API. That is still in progress. By a developer whose skills are still in progress. Who wants to earn the respect of his elders through revolutionary ninja code fixes and brand new code framework toolkits that will definitely never grow defunct when their developer gets a real job. Bonus: Newbie has no f’n clue how to optimize software either, making the new API more inefficient as it gets more users. It’s how developers reach enlightenment and get promoted to actual software projects – when their initial stumbles work but produce catastrophic rewrite-from-scratch-worthy crap down the road.
And there you have it folks. The completely accurate and factually correct assessment of how to look like the nicest, most open, developer friendly and growing platform in public while being a complete sadistic sociopath hell bent on making your partners realize it would take less effort to write their own platform then spend another fucking minute supporting yours. But this is of course totally unrelated to this.
Now the 64k question: Who wants to be an integration vendor?
, IT Business
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Last week Microsoft unleashed the Surfacebook – Windows 10 powered laptop with a detachable screen that can be used as a tablet. What’s not to love? I ordered one in hopes that it would be as awesome as all Microsoft MVPs assure me their Surface tablets are. I blogged my first impressions here, it is an impressive looking device.
With all the Windows 10 features it actually is the most impressive laptop on the market by a long shot. You can pick a complex password and only login with a four digit PIN. Too much work? You can set it to recognize your face so every time you open it up it will automatically log you in. Enabling “Ok Cortana” prompts allows you to talk to it and accomplish many tasks as you would on your iPhone with Siri. To top it off, device is absolutely gorgeous!
If I were to struggle to find a single fault with it.. I guess it would be the fact that it didn’t really work.
I have a Windows 10 desktop PC that is a few years old and I have never seen a blue screen on it. On Surfacebook I got a few. Each day. To keep things fair, I only used Microsoft apps and the only third party stuff I installed were Chrome, Firefox and Skype.
Nearly every time I detached the screen from the laptop the thing crashed. I was so thrilled when I finally detached it to watch a Netflix movie when it didn’t crash – just to crash in the worst possible way when I attached it back. The power button on the top of it is merely a suggestion in those situation, as the speakers blared the fraction of the second of the movie it got frozen on holding the power button did pretty much nothing. Nor did closing the lid.
Surfacebook doesn’t feel like a notepad – in a traditional sense where the LCD panel is quite light and skinny and can be pulled up with one finger. Not so with Surfacebook, you need to use both hands to pry it open and even then it’s not really easy.
The screen itself for some inexplicable reason doesn’t come with the Surface infinity kickstand so when you detach it from the base you’re lugging around a 13” piece of glass basically begging for it to be broken and tossed around on the desk. Unfortunately, iFixIt reported that it’s the least repairable notebook on the market so while this might be a mistake you can make with your iPad it’s going to be a lot tougher to handle with a $2,500 Surfacebook.
Everything About It Feels Wrong
Sound sucks. Keyboard sucks.
Touchpad… dear god… English is still pretty new to me so I don’t know the word that matches my level of anger with the touchpad.
Using the Microsoft touchpad on Surfacebook is kind of like getting to know a new lover. There is a way she likes to be touched in a sensual mood, like when you’re scrolling from a document and every now and then you might hit that special spot that makes her tingle and accidentally scroll down 5 pages. Then there are times when she is kinky, like when you’re trying to select a piece of text in a middle of a web page, no matter how you angle it she swings back in the opposite direction. Sometimes she is tired, no matter how gently or how rough you touch her it does nothing. If I were to pick my favorite it’s when she is clearly lost in a fantasy… you swipe up, down, click.. and she closes Excel, opens whatever was behind it on the desktop 80 times and you just do your best not to get consumed in her passion and… #50shadesofSurfacebook
So yea, it’s like that – except you got fucked by a $2,500 laptop.
Of course, you can always carry a mouse with you. Along with a separate tablet case. And a kickstand for the tablet portion. And by the time you get everything Sufacebook needs to be perfect you’re pretty much stuck having to check her because there is no way all that gear fits into a backpack.
Microsoft Surfacebook is gorgeous. Beautiful. Powerful. Flexible. Almost too good to be true.
And then, much like the mirage that is getting a hooker in Las Vegas, that gorgeous girl turns out to be a dude. That you need a whole lot of parts to make work the way you want to that isn’t anything you actually wanted from a laptop.
I wrapped it up and sent it back to Microsoft.
P.S. I would like to apologize to the Las Vegas hookers. Particularly the ones that are transitioned/ing – I have never used your services and I did not mean to insult you by comparing you to what is likely the worst laptop I’ve had since a Dell about a decade ago.
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Welcome to November – two more months left in this calendar year and that’s a ton of business to be done and lots of setting up for CY’16 so if you need me or we aren’t working as much or as well as we should give me a call. With that in mind, until I work out the bugs with the cloning machine here is my calendar:
November 23-28 New York City
December 25 – Jan 1 Paris, Amsterdam
If you happen to be in either place during this time and want to catch up for lunch or dinner, let me know in advance. Otherwise just shoot me a meeting request via email and let’s go from there.
Next Two Weeks
There are like 6 conferences happening in Orlando right now, along with a packed schedule that I happen to have over the next few weeks as we’re trying to launch big marketing and partner strategy stuff – so we’re about as booked as it gets for things like in person meetings and office visits. Here is where I will be over the next few days:
Fri Nov 6 – Magic Kingdom
Sat Nov 7 – Gainesville UF game, Epcot run from 11 PM – 4 AM
Sun Nov 8 – More Epcot Wine & Dine
Nov 9 – Nov 12 – Slammed.
Sat Nov 14 – Gainesville UF game
Sun Nov 15 – Epcot Wine & Dine
If you’re around any of those over the next week or two, let me know and let’s catch up. Otherwise I’m kind of slammed. If you know me from my 20s or early 30s where I slept 2 hours a night and had 3 lunches and then went to back to back parties.. That dude got a wife and kids and multiple businesses and started running and he (probably) won’t be at the bar at 2 AM. I know, I miss him too but life is good.
So drop me an email. Look forward to DDoSing my calendar for the rest of the year and I think you’re going to love all the stuff we’ve been cooking up for ‘16.
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Every now and then I have what I like to call existential crisis conversations with my partners: I don’t know what I’m going to do next?!?!
And to an extent, I understand why some people get into this frenzy – you’re being fed a steady diet of “what’s next” usually by people who flame out and are back at doing the exact same thing a year later. Folks… I’ll say this slowly: that’s not success. For every guy that loads up on debt, gets lucky, sells his business and makes a killing there are millions of those that don’t. And like I said, if that were a winning strategy those folks would be out on a yacht, not in a job. Or worse, same or lower job.
So now that we’ve clarified that bit of fantasy..
Success in IT business is no different than success in any other business – you learn to benefit from change, you learn how to hire and train people to manage a business and you pursue the next idea.
Not all ideas will be winners.
But once you know how to build, manage and scale a winning idea you start to diversify, you start to invest and you begin to invest in ideas and people – not in the process and perfection. I’ve seen so many people fail trying to be perfect operators of a business and end up failing to deal with the change.
This is why it hurts me so much when I see CEOs of companies out going to trade shows that double down on sales, process and marketing. No. No. No. No. You’ve already proven you know how to sell, market and implement stuff enough that someone paid you to get you to the point of having employees and enough time away from clients to attend that show – now is not the time to invest in yourself – unless you intend to never get ahead. This is where you invest in your people, send them to these conferences, give them ownership of tasks, projects and services. It’s hard to give up being a control freak but nobody is coming to take away the CEO job – so move on.
So the answer – what are you doing next? First, what else are you doing? What sorts of investments do you have? What other side businesses do you have? What does your portfolio look like? You can run more than one business effectively at a time – and if you can’t then you have the wrong people working for you. If you can’t trust your team then you need to work on that first.
Perfection is not the be all end all of business. Selling your business is not the goal. Entrepreneurship isn’t about finding a greater fool (because if you’re selling you’re admitting you don’t know how to have it make any more profits than it’s currently making) it’s about creating multiple profit streams.
, IT Business
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First overall impression: It’s feels significantly heavier than Macbook Air, other than that it looks and feels very similar.
Packaging is impressive, looks very modern and comes with a typical PC 2-piece charger that is quite slim.
The lean angle on the Surfacebook is a little disappointing compared to the Macbook Air. The keyboard itself looks pretty awesome.
Compared to Macbook Air it feels noticeably heavier. If you’re used to walking around with your laptop it might be a challenge doing so with the Surfacebook – the screen is detachable though and doubles as a tablet so as far as “walking around office and meetings” mobility is concerned there are options.
First impression: It’s bulkier and heavier than MBA but it has far more flexibility and features that ought to make up for the bulk/weight.
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When you’re in my position you get to hear a lot of pitches, ideas and schemes that could learn to great riches.. if only they had a ton of money. You’ve all heard it before “You need to spend money to make money” and it was probably told to you by a person that either had none or sold advertising for a living.
To make money.. you need to learn from your mistakes, make fewer of them and above all else understand that elbow grease is more powerful than anything else.
Here are some things to ponder:
Mistakes are not fatal
When you start with something small and are just building things up, even if the marketing campaign or business model or target client base doesn’t work out you didn’t gamble a lot on it and the biggest hit is to your time and your ego. Consider the alternative: loading up on debt, credit cards or third party loans – you might still be on hook for some of that stuff if you fail. And god forbid you actually succeed then you’re really up for a disaster down the road as it puts you into a gambler mentality instead of a risk manager.
You become more conservative with risk taking
When you start small you will naturally have fewer options. Which means you will probably give them a whole lot more thought and due diligence than “let’s see what happens and how things work out” – when you have fewer decisions to make, the outcomes of those few decisions are far more important than just having a single big one work out.
You know everything won’t work out every time
Inevitably, you will fail. But when you aren’t distracted with a ton of other stuff going on, and you aren’t funding your dreams with your imagined proceeds from things hopefully working out.. you take the emotion of winning or losing out of the process. While emotion and passion do drive and motivate entrepreneurs, our ability to handle risk and defeat and quickly move on is the learning experience that makes us better with each new venture.
Fundamentally, you will be far better off starting small and learning and perfecting what you’re trying to do. And by starting small and learning along the way the better off you will perform. The more work that goes into making things work the more you will appreciate what you’re built and more conservative you’ll become when making decisions that could lead to you losing.
When I started Own Web Now it was with less than $1,000. When I opened my first Datek account it was with less than $4,000. My biggest victories started small and ended up getting built into something really great. My biggest hardships and difficulties came from growing and moving too fast – but live and learn.
All these conversations, where people have unrealistic expectations of what they need to get something done, are usually summed up like this: There is a reason why people with money have it and why those that need it don’t. You need to act and manage your strategy the same way someone with money would. That is the only way they will hand you money – if they see you as an extension of themselves and feel secure that you will make decisions the same way they do.
That’s the zen zone: Once you do start acting and behaving in such a way, you won’t need anyone else’s money. Which is usually when everyone wants to throw money at you.
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Over the past year that I’ve been off the road I’ve been working very intensely with my partners on getting them rocking in the cloud. As you may have noticed here, I have for the most part given up on the general IT provider population and have declined a very large number of invites for presentation and training because.. quite simply.. the easy cloud money will put enough people out of business in very short order as they let that v in VAR become largely minimized. So be that as it may, I have no real agenda here beyond just stating my opinion.
Let me just sum this whole thing up by saying that I’ve seen this movie before. I know how it ends. I know what happened to IT staffers that didn’t keep their skills up, what happened with massively vertical-focused shops that dealt with Y2K and cars and real estate/builders when the economy collapsed, what happened to people that were system builders and many of my fellow SBSers through the years. Cloud is a commodity and a transactional business, if you are not making a moat around it then you’ll soon find yourself out of the castle along with all your “services” the client could really do without. So let’s get started:
For most people, the migration to the commodity cloud will be the last large project of their career or business.
Cloud is a commodity, no argument there. But if you’re one of those VARs, MSPs, etc and treat it as such you’re pretty much putting up your tombstone.
There are many great reasons for someone to “sell” a client Office 365 hosting or Gmail, who can beat the appeal of a cheap mailbox. It’s what the clients are asking for: Vlad, I need the $4 mailbox. Convince me why I should pay double or triple? Hypothetical question of course, I’d hang up on someone that was that clueless. But we do get to compete against Gmail or Office 365 often so here is how we do it:
Case: Client needs Office 365. They want it. It’s $4.
Vlad: Not a problem, I can have that contract for you by the end of the day. There are some terms but let me ask you a few questions…
Few questions later, the person sort of realizes just what a crappy deal they are getting and how many compromises they are about to accept. While on the surface everything looks the same, people that run businesses or are responsible for IT departments don’t buy the bottom shelf Dell hardware specials for a reason.
And to be honest, we have not had an issue selling anything from our Exchange at $4 to the full “Office 365” stuff at over $25/month (I use the quotes around the office because it’s the same software/features that Microsoft offers it just runs off the network and the servers we control).
How Much Is Your Expertise A Commodity
I ask my partners this all the time.
Another one (credit to Lee Evans): Should your expertise save them money?
One of the misconceptions about small business is that in small business we all have each others back and we try to save one another a ton of money. Guys that thought that went out of work/business last decade.
There are two kinds of business models that are thriving today:
Cloud transactional – people selling a ton of different cloud services due to the demand and their ability to roll them out quickly.
Project and legacy models – from web design to hardware maintenance to hybrid of MSP / project based solutions.
Only one of these will survive. And if you think I’m on the side of the cloud… you haven’t been paying attention.
For the past few years we have been at an inflection point between buying stuff and buying services. The moment people buy a service (and get on it) the need for an IT person is eliminated. Smart people are partnering with companies that enable them to be the sole provider of that service – folks that don’t pay much attention are simply connecting the dots and facilitating the sale and effectively removing themselves from the IT channel. Yes, they delude themselves into thinking that their MSP contract means they are tied to the client but I hear from more and more people each day that are dismayed that their client decided to give up the office, the hardware, the infrastructure that was being managed.
Imagine offering your clients a great phone system and managing their PBX and providing service with their phones, etc. Then one day you saved them some money by moving all that stuff to the cloud but they kept their gadgets on their desks and everything was the same. Well, new release came out and there was no real need for the desk phone, their cell could do the same thing and thanks for the years of business but it doesn’t seem we need these cables, phones, contracts or warranty. Replace the phones with computers and the PBX with the cloud services and there you have what I’m seeing more and more out there.
The inflection point – preparing you for which I’ve made endless blog posts over the years – was to help you create your own plans, your own support, your own backoffice (hopefully powered by ExchangeDefender and Own Web Now). You either built it or decided it didn’t matter because you had all these other gadgets that needed to go in play. All I can hope for is that either you gave us (or similar) a shot and that your luck is different from the hordes of people that are suddenly knocking on my door.
The notion that that cloud.. is just a computer that is in some other office.. is a gross oversimplification that eliminates experience, skill set, training, investment and a common goal of providing an excellent service. But suppose all of that was indeed worth nothing, how would you explain your client what you are charging them for stuff every month?
Something to ponder as you think what your business is actually worth when put up against a commodity.
So I’ll say it very simply and succinctly: If you are rolling out a cloud solution where you are not in control of the account, not in control of the data, not in control of the backup and disaster recovery… You are outsourcing the part of IT the business actually cares about. I know you think your service is important, I know your tools are sophisticated, I know your knowhow is earned and your relationships are strong. But you are digging your own grave. Good luck with that.
P.S. The really ugly thing, for folks that aren’t naive, is the aspect of the cheapness and liability. In the past when clients decided to go cheap and make mistakes you at least had billable hours and projects to help them roll out of their mess. When those mistakes happen to services, and trust me cloud is far beyond flawless, who really has your back? Your clients? What sort of control do you have over the situation? How about that data? Folks consumed with the dizzying array of Azure and Amazon Web Services options and services are running around trying to do their best to sell more, find more clients, get more leads, specialize in a more lucrative vertical – but all they are doing to themselves in the process is cutting away client dependence and future profit prospects. While the liability explodes because there is no way to throw money at fixing a problem after the lawsuits start to fly. Again, something to ponder. Cause if you think you have a simple and easy answer to this.. it’s going to hurt.
, IT Business
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