There aren't many of us who haven't been affected by the slowing down of global markets or challenged by product saturation.
But even taking into account current conditions, I find it strange that the IT industry continues to be such a victim of recession, given what there is to offer.
If the very basis of technology is to enhance productivity and reduce costs, it should be seen as the solution, not just another casualty.
These times can be tough, but there is a heightened need for increased productivity and cost-reduction tools, so why is the channel failing to close these enormous opportunities?
There is budget out there; it doesn't take massive research to see that. For the right solution, money is available.
So what is the problem? The way I see it there are two main obstacles.
The first is the lack of business confidence in IT, caused by years of over-selling technology panaceas that have failed to live up to management's heightened expectations.
Yet the straw that broke the camel's back was the spectacular collapse of the dotcom promise, and the rapid re-valuation of technology stock that followed.
The second is more fundamental: the art of selling. With memories of 40 per cent market growth fresh in our minds, the challenge has been more about delivering the product than selling it.
Now that the tide has turned, we are discovering that we might have lost the knack of the solution-sell.
The underlying cause is both poor customer understanding and an inability to define tangible business benefits that will convince the sceptics at board level.
For me the solution is clear: a return to the basics. This process begins with getting closer to the customer, and not just within the comfort zone of the IT department.
This requires building solid business cases for products that are in line with the business pains uncovered by listening to customers.
Increasingly this will result in a vertical orientation to offerings, and the language of these discussions will not revolve around technology but the value and benefits to the business.
Finally there needs to be a focus on customer satisfaction, not just selling and moving on to the next victim. Maybe that way the only victim will be the recession itself.
David Fox is chairman of Fox Parrack Hirsch Communications.
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