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Customers Typology: The Cusomer who Knows Everything

I worked as an Information Technology Consultant, for many Customers. Customers are different in their Self-Perception, in their view of the Consultant and the Consultancy Process. They also differ in the Enterprise size (Large, Very Large, SMB) and their Vertical Industry (e.g. Telco, Banking, Insurance, Utilities, Public Sector). 

Customers Typology could effect the interaction between them and the Consultant, as well as the probability of successful consultancy.
This post is about a particular customer type: The Customer who Knows Everything.

The Customer Who Knows Everything
This Customer type is sure that he knows more than anyone else. He is also sure that his understanding is better than any body's understanding. 

His point of view is manifested in the Decision-making process: 

1. There is no correlation between the Consultant's recommendations and the decision.

2. There is no correlation between the consultancy quality and the decision taken.

3. The decisions may not be related to information collected and analyzed during the Consultancy process. 

The consultant may be a knowledgeable and experienced expert in a topic. For the Customer it could be the first time he and his enterprise are exposed to this topic.  

The consultant's work could be excellent: assembling data from variety of sources e.g. Analysts' Research Notes, Case Studies, similar enterprises 's strategies, approaches' solutions and conclusions etc.

The conclusions based on this excellent work could be that strategy A or Software/Hardware product A's implementations usually fail, while strategy B or product B's implementations usually succeed.

The Consultant's recommendation could be: select Strategy B implemented by Product B.   

The Customer who Knows Everything, will chose Strategy A implemented by Product A. He could argue: "I know that everybody in the world selecting Strategy A implemented by Product A failed. I know better and understand more than them, so I will be the first to succeed". Needless to say, that he fails like all the others (sometimes even more sever failures than others).

According to Aberdeen Group's SOA survey, Best in Class (BIC) Enterprises (those whose implementations succeed and provide real Value) used more Consultancy Services than others. Laggards (those who fail to provide Business Value), refrain from using Consultancy Services or purchased less Consultancy Services than others. 

I would guess that, the Laggards group includes, at least, few Customers Who Know everything.

How to Consult a Customer who Knows Everything?
The question in this paragraph's heading contains the answer: If someone knows everything it is impossible or at least very difficult to consult.

Effective consulting requires conceptual change. Information, data and brilliant analysis would not change the customer's approach. 
A Psychologist may change the concept, but we are only IT Consultants not Psychologists. 

He will learn only after painful failures. To help him, the consultant should repeat and emphasize his conclusions contradicting the customer's decision, so the customer could blame only himself in case of failure.

However, sometimes even repetitions of the recommendations contradicting the customer's approach, could be in vain: The customer will know who to blame.
The Consultant opposing the wrong conclusions and actions taken by the customer, is to be blamed.  

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More Stories By Avi Rosenthal

Ari has over 30 years of experience in IT across a wide variety of technology platforms, including application development, technology selection, application and infrastructure strategies, system design, middleware and transaction management technologies and security.

Positions held include CTO for one of the largest software houses in Israel as well as the CTO position for one of the largest ministries of the Israeli government.