Time to Tear Down the IT Tower of Babel in the Channel
When you think about the complexity of the IT purchasing process it’s a wonder that anything ever gets bought, never mind actually accomplished. Most vendors have dissimilar ways of describing the same technology, there are endless variations of the same product and no one is quite sure what’s no longer available versus when something else will be.
The channel, of course, has made a living helping customers sort through all this complexity, but at what actual cost? The longer it takes to purchase something, the longer it takes to actually get the IT project started. In the time it takes to actually purchase the range of products that make up a solution, the project itself could probably be completed three times over. The customer would then see much faster meantime to IT value, which would make them more than likely more inclined to embark on yet another project. In effect, a Tower of IT Babel winds up doing more to retard rather than promote adoption of IT products and services.
One company that is trying to do something about this is speaking with B|DNA, the creator of Technopedia, a catalog of more than 450,000 hardware and software products that is based on a common set of IT terms. Ken Hunter, general manager of Hunter Communications, a solution provider that does a lot of business with Federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Securities and Exchange Commission, says Technopedia is not only having a significant impact on simplifying the purchasing process, but also managing IT assets. For example, Hunter says that IT managers in Federal agencies use Technopedia to not only figure out what’s available, but what applications might be affected by any new security vulnerability that has been recently discovered. This is enabled by that fact that Technopedia is an information service updated daily that houses more than 17 million data points, ranging from software end-of-life dates and support levels to hardware power consumption and form factors. There is no single distributor that can match that level of visibility, especially when it comes to products and technologies that might not even be on their line card.
By essentially normalizing the taxonomy surrounding IT products and technologies, the time between when a decision is made to when an IT project is formally launched is substantially reduced. That’s invaluable for solution providers that more often than not have to wait for products and technologies to be acquired before they can start billing for the higher-margin services they provide. As such it's in the interest of the channel to promote the usage of Technopedia.
For years vendors have deliberating obfuscating the capabilities of one product versus another. On one hand those efforts can be legitimate attempts to differentiate products and services. But all too often they are attempts to confuse rather than enlighten customers.It’s often hard enough to get all the stakeholders inside a prospective customer to agree on the description of what actually needs to be done. Not being able to quickly ascertain what products should be used to complete that project once everybody finally agrees to do it just adds more insult to already injured solution providers.