Why Technical Heads Need To Look Beyond The Big Brands

by September 15, 2016 0 comments

By Vishrut Chalsani, Co-Founder, OneDirect

Stop focusing on well-known brands, the goal, instead, should be to find the best tech solutions for the enterprise. This will help the business to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive for longer.

“Buying a single product from a single vendor to tackle multiple issues may seem like a cost-effective solution, but it is not always the best choice.”

Big leaps in technology have made buying equipment for an enterprise very complex. There are far too many players in the tech market—and some of the best among them are not big brands.

This was not the case in the early days of computer tech. In the 1980s, buying software or hardware for a business was easy enough. If you bought products from a stable, dependable, established brand like IBM, you were safe. If something did go wrong, no one would blame you for the failure.

Now fast-forward to 2016, where the expanding tech market has changed everything. There are so many factors to keep in mind when choosing the right software. Feature lists and pricing are just the start. There is also vendor reputation to consider, along with support service. Examining similar products from competing brands is another crucial step. But there are many similar products. How do you distinguish one from the other? What tips the scales in favour of one product?

Know that whatever you choose will send ripples throughout the business operations. That is why tech professionals must think about not only the immediate impacts of the product, but also the consequences of those impacts.

So, how should an IT head go about procuring tech for his company today?

The key to finding good technology is this: Go small!

First, recognize that big brands no longer hold the answer. There can be no more dependence on the likes of Google, Oracle, Abobe and Salesforce. To find the right tech for your enterprise, look at the smaller players, for that is where all the exciting tech work is happening at present.

Smaller organisations have a crucial advantage. They can select a specific problem area and create a product that provides a 360-degree solution. Specialisation holds the key here. It is the reason smaller players are able to surpass tech giants in creating great technology.

Big brands focus on generalised products. In doing so, they often come up with mediocre solutions to multiple problems.

Overtime, big companies like Oracle and Salesforce swallow up these smaller businesses, in order to expand. But, an acquisition by a bigger company does not always spur further improvements. In many cases, technological innovation ceases within the acquired business. One reason is the sluggish pace of bigger companies; another is that the founders wish to complete their lock-in periods and move on to newer ventures.

The implication is this: Bigger brands no longer provide the best and latest technology

If you get your software and hardware from the big names, rest assured that the technology you get will be somewhere between four to 10 years old.

Zero in on the best products.

Managers tasked with procuring new technology for their employers are bound to have questions:

What should be the priority?

Do you need to find the best bargains?

How important is brand name?

What qualifies as the ‘best’ in tech?

To put it simply, the goal is to find the latest technology that would provide appropriate and viable solutions for the enterprise. The difficulty here is that the best technology is quietly being developed by smaller, often unknown, start-ups. So, the first step is getting more information about what is going on in the tech industry and who is doing the best work.

Company representatives should stay updated on the various start-ups in the tech market, says Rajesh Rishi, General Manager of Loyalty for Shukran, the largest loyalty programme in West Asia with 15 million members. During annual visits to the National Retail Forum in New York, Rishi gathers information on up to 80 new companies for various departments within his organisation.

Events like the National Retail Forum in New York and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are a great way to connect with a large number of unseen tech start-ups. But this is just the starting point. It is necessary to learn about the products and services offered by these start-ups, and to evaluate whether a long-term business relationship is possible. To do this right, it is useful to follow thought leaders in the industry, stay updated on the latest developments, and follow trends and news on technology blogs and magazines.

Why some businesses fall behind

Preference for big brands:

Stable and tested technology from a well-established brand has its advantages, whereas a new product from a young company could easily fail. When comparing a product from a reputed brand with that from a relative unknown, the best approach is to carry out a thorough cost-benefit analysis. But this is difficult and time-consuming work, and many professionals who are looking to cut corners tend to avoid this altogether.

Seeking a one-product solution:

Buying a single product from a single vendor to tackle multiple issues may seem like a cost-effective solution, but it is not always the best choice. The problem with a jack-of-all-trades product is that it does not solve any one problem particularly well. Enterprises would do better to approach different vendors for specialist products that solve specific problems in a comprehensive way. Many organisations are reluctant to take this route, however, because dealing with multiple parties can be tiresome.

Ignoring current trends:

Businesses sometimes underestimate the value of keeping up with trends in technology. Nokia ignored the smartphone and we all know how that turned out. The management must realise that customers will stay loyal only as long as the company performs well and meets their ever-increasing expectations. To do that, it is necessary to stay ahead of the data curve, by employing only the best and latest tech within the enterprise.

All of this moulded our search for suitable tech for our consumer business, Helpchat. We needed products that would cover mobile analytics, mobile notifications, and life-cycle email. As a one-stop solution was not a priority, we examined 20 tools from vendors based in five different countries. By the end of this exercise, the Helpchat team had identified the three best tools, each one handling a separate task. We wrote our own integration layer to connect them. This took a while, but turned out to be our best solution.

The future lies in the best technology

So, how can companies grow in the current market scenario? In short, they need to stop focusing on well-known brands. The goal, instead, should be to find the best tech solutions for the enterprise. This will help the business to stay ahead of the game and remain competitive for longer.

About the Author:

VishrutChalsani is a Co-founder of OneDirect, a customer experience management company, backed by Sequoia Capital. He is an IIT Bombay graduate who is passionate about enterprise software.

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