Friday, April 30, 2010

Procurement Processes

Ever wondered what is happening on the other side when you receive an RFP or ITT on your desk? 

The Negotiation Experts go through the process in the following article, describing the differences and similarities between these terms RFT RFQ RFP RFI.  It can be very impiortant knowing these differences as they can be the difference between winning business you can't economically fulfill, or not winning business you desperately want.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

iPad in the Enterprise

Does the iPad have killer enterprise potential?  After all, most business applications these days have a browser based interface, surely it is a nicely sized device to assist many business processes and functions.

Randall C. Kennedy of PCWorld thinks not. Citing the lack of keyboard and mouse making for harder data input capabilities, he suggests that the main way of using these lightweight tablets is as a Citrix Receiver session viewer.  However, I'd question whether this is jsut a temporary view on how the devices could be an efficient solution in the enterprise. After all, Citrix Receiver is just being used to turn the iPad into a remote session for a Windows 7 screen. The two devices weren't really meant for each other.

Rather, I'd turn to the potential of new applications being made to assist users perform their everyday tasks without needing a full laptop device.  People on the move, working outside the office, frequently use handheld devices to log visits, sign off delivery of goods and services. The simplest use of the iPad would be as an improvement on many of these jobs. 

The next thing would be looking at new applications for handhelds, that were not practical before.  
Suggestions include as:

  • an E-learning tool 
  • presentation device for salespeople 
  • mobile email client
  • e-manual for product documentation
At first, they will come into the enterprise as unmanaged devices that power users will connect to the network via wifi mainly for personal use. However these users will find true business purposes for the devices and then they will be embraced. Tony Bradley's article highlights how this has already happened with iPhones, which were first seen as purely personal devices. 

What remains is for the business itself to identify some uses of the iPad, where other devices are not appropriate, and justify it.  Is there also space for all the different kinds of devices - ipod touch, iphone, pda, blackberry, netbook, laptop, desktop?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What is in a Name?

Often you won't present yourself as an SE. Sometimes it is easier to get access to a customer posing under various other guises.

SEs can fill a number of roles in an organisation, the title of Sales Engineer is really an internal job description or designation of the focus of your work with customers. The focus of the role is to be the technical face of the solution or product offering in dealings with prospects and customers.

It can be a 'guerilla' style tactic to turn up on customer sites more often than you might if you wait for the Account Manager to get you there.  
Suppose your company has some consulting work or perhaps a support visit with the customer, but there is also an opportunity to sell more software or services in the account, then ideally an SE can go along as the Consultant or Support Engineer to perform the activity, potentially accompanying other staff.  It this situation, you can find out more information than the customer might give during a sales pitch kind of meeting. You might find out who really runs the project, or some new business objective that needs to be solved.  All of a sudden you might get the jump on the competition and be able to alter the proposal to meet your customer's needs.

If you can't get on-site, you still might be able to get the other technical staff to find out answers to your questions while they are there.

Titles that an SE could use to perform these tasks include:
*  Technical Account Manager (TAM)
*  Field Engineer
*  Technical Consultant
*  Solution Engineer (Also abbreviates to SE)
*  Project Manager
*  Technical Manager
*  Solution Specialist
*  Solution Architect
*  Enterprise Architect
*  Systems Engineer

While some of these titles don't sound that flash, it can be important for the 'disguise' aspect of the SE job to go in with these titles as a good reason to visit the customer and to be a trusted opinion.