Different Approaches

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-12-11 Print this article Print

Dell has been getting into the services business, with its typical commoditylike approach—offering a menu of repeatable services, none of which are very fancy but that apparently people need. IBM similarly has been downsizing its custom services with more packaged services. Are people seeing those out in the marketplace, and are they meeting your needs?

Miller: Im seeing them, but I dont know if their rates are similarly downsized. I think the rate structure isnt always appropriate for an SMB, and the level of business and technical expertise of the person actually providing the technical services isnt always as high as it would be for a larger enterprise customer.

But theyre going to charge you the same?

Miller: Or near it. So, again, they make their real profit off the professional services side. Theyre not going to want to discount much at all.

It sounds like youre getting the short end of the stick.

Miller: Well, particularly being a midsize business, youre in this strange zone where you have a lot of the same complexities as your large enterprise cousins, but you dont have the large IT staff—the depth and breadth—to spread the risk and deal with the issues.

Can you credibly threaten to go with another vendor if one of these vendors isnt getting the job done?

Miller: Frequently, yes. We always look at exit strategies for products we own and as part of a product evaluation. We have a primary and secondary vendor. If the primary doesnt work out, well go with the secondary.

What Id like to see when vendors come in and pitch a product is an understanding of what theyre pitching toward. Weve had occasions when weve worked with vendors and purchased their products, but in our minds and our eyes, they hadnt done due diligence in understanding our environment. This leads to problems when youre going through implementation.

Kevin, where do you stand on all of this?

Baradet: Well, from a numbers perspective, were small, but from a dollar/data perspective, were not.

Weve seen some interesting things happening. A lot of universities and some of the other folks in this space are looking to outsource things like e-mail. A lot of people are having conversations with Google to essentially outsource their entire e-mail infrastructure to Google. The whole thing is shifted off so [IT doesnt] have to run anything.

Miller: I actually went to Google recently and sat through a pitch, and one of the questions that came up was, What are the e-mail services that you provide around anti-virus, anti-spam, archiving—the kinds of things that you would run into in a corporate environment? And they werent able to answer it.

What I would say to the vendors is, think about your customer, the complexities that they have. One size doesnt fit all—deliver us a solution that is business-agile, secure and cost-effective.

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