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Gartner: 10 ways IT service providers can win wallet share

OK, so you’ve made the swap-over to emphasize services. Problem is, lot of other resellers are telling the same story. So, how can you differentiate, especially in a nasty economic climate?

The channel research team at Gartner has come out with 10 ideas of how IT solution/service providers can stand out. Some of the suggestions aren’t exactly revelations, but all are worth some thought if you have time to stare out the window before the New Year and give your business some long-term thought. Here are five of the most intriguing thought-provokers:

  1. Talk about how you can share the risk. In an environment where credit is tight, this will help remove a buying objection. Moreover, it could help you maintain your pricing in a competitive situation.
  2. Speaking of risk, examine how risk management can be aided by your services. I don’t necessarily advocate targeting the financial services segment right now, but if you’re involved with the sector at all, you’ll know that the role technology can play in risk management and risk mitigation is a hot topic, regardless of all that’s going on. In fact, interest is being spurred even more by the meltdown. Other industries, such as health care, will also benefit from your knowledge of this area.
  3. Keep on top of government regulations. Not an easy proposition right now. But, by staying abreast of new laws or legislation, especially related to the environment or to compliance, your company can help customers assess and sort through developments that might have an impact on their business. You can also help them use existing or new economic stimulus initiatives to better effect.
  4. Offer utility pricing wherever it makes sense. In other words, look for ways to support payment flexibility that will help your customer but IT and your services in the way that makes most sense for their balance sheet.
  5. Document and continue improving your project management and implementation processes. The easier you make it for someone to use your services, the more likely they are to sign the purchase order.

Here’s the full press release for some additional food for thought, including the other five ideas. The link to the full report is also available in the same place.

Heather Clancy is a high-tech business journalist and strategic communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. She can be reached at hclancy@swotmg.com.

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Which is most important when hiring for IT positions?
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Smart is a given. So are clever and dedicated. But most of all, I look for people who are highly collaborative. Isolated, ego-driven introverts tend to create the programs they envision, not the ones I need. We always make a place for the one-off eureka workers, but it's not in IT.
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In my new position, we do something I have never done before. When there is a perspective hire, they sit with everyone in the department separately for a few minutes. This way we all get a feel of how they may fit in the department. Then we discuss any issues among ourselves and see if we all feel the same. 
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One of the primary things I look for in a suitable candidate, and just had added to the job descriptions and postings, is intellectual curiosity. I find that overcomes a lack of skills. A successful career in IT requires not only constant learning, but also the initiative to seek out and implement new and innovative ideas, and that’s something that I typically see in a candidate that has a good deal of intellectual curiosity.
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Technical skills can more easily be learned than soft ones.
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In seeking to build the soft skills of an organisation, one needs to consider that the vast majority of skills applied in the workplace are "soft" as they relate to the individuals (and the team's) behavioral competencies. A key soft skill being the interpersonal people skills that are the core to the success of the business as such skills as communication skills, conflict resolution and negotiation, personal effectiveness, creative problem solving, strategic thinking, team building, influencing and selling skills. These skills are most often gained through practical and in-the-field experiences that cannot be attained from formal training or "textbooks". But give the staff and teams the opportunity to learn from setting challenging assignments and roles and their success becomes the organisation's success - a win-win for all concerned.
The problem with hiring policies being that soft skills are often overlooked for the hard skills which over time become less relevant in the day to day activities of the organisation (throw out the text book position descriptions).
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Because internal management teams (in many cases) lack the skills to vet IT specialists, we value pedigrees over skills - usually a big mistake as you get book smart test takers, not people with experience, thought leadership, analytic skills and ability to grasp and understand how things fit together in the big picture.
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Depends upon the position. The higher the responsibility and the more personnel to be supervised, the more important soft skills become.
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Combination of both - 70% Hard / 30% Soft
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Both hard and soft skills are important but in regards to hard skills need to look more towards IT generalist. IT technology is too diverse and changing too rapidly to expect to find a candidate with exactly the hard skills you need. Look for someone who has demonstrated work ethic, ability to adapt and intelligence to learn and apply new technology. Train them on the specifics. If you provide decent salary and challenging work they won't just run off at the first big salary offer.
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The hard skills can be learned, and some of the soft skills too. However, some soft skills you either have them or you don't.
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Soft-skills are extremely important when hiring
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Moore's law means emerging technologies will always be with us, so having demonstrated IT capabilities enhanced by soft skills to interact and learn is a winning combination.
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