Monday, May 21, 2007

Porky pine nuts with beer battered shrimp.

There are always agendae in anything in life. Anyone who's hanging around your front door with nothing to do and no real answer as to why they spend so much time there is probably waiting for you to turn your head and cough so the fuzzies can be dismounted.

IBM is making a change in how they do business. They are reducing the number of people it takes to conduct "business". How can they do that when the CEO said he wants to increase IBM's involvement in software and reduce their dependency on hardware?

IBM retired a large mass of Websphere legacy April 30, 2007. After that, they began letting go support staff at an 'alarming' rate (1500 in two weeks - many more projected for the foreseeable future). If you were a nitwit and didn't read what's provided for the educational purposes here and at the various other blog spots, you might conclude IBM is getting out of the computer services business... to the tune of around 100,000 in their staff estimated to be relieved of duty this year alone.

One would think IBM is saying "to hell with it" and getting out of the sales and support business. But that would not ring true with the IBM CEO's words and 'ring true' is all words have to do in describing the situation for the SEC to say OK.

On a similar note, we find NOW Solutions has reduced and "let go" their own sales force according to their latest filing. Are we to assume NOW Solutions is throwing in the towel? Getting out of the software services business?

Not if you understand what's happening in this first wave to wash up on the shores of disruption bay.

Not if you understand SaaS and the part hardware management/governance and software management/governance play in this framework.

The truth everyone understood from the beginnings decades ago: People are not necessarily needed by a software company. There actually are no tasks software sales people do beyond shmoozing clients and explaining why demos don't work that can't be done by software services constructed and run by experts. When virtualization and arbitration are actually accomplished (rather than talked about or written about or argued about... as opposed to getting them done) across the board, those empowerments do for the manual tasked dummies what the word processor did for an admin - remember "admins"? They didn't exist before that particular disruption some twenty years ago. They are a relatively recent evolutionary offspring from the technological development epochs.

They evolved out of higher skillsets and supportive software from people who were "let go" as secretaries and receptionists and clerks and gophers.

The same software services your company is using to conduct the software business should be the same software system to accomplish the software business. You should get on a plane only when you want to see your client's shiny face in person when he wants you there. Otherwise, you're costing him money and he knows it.

My take on what we're seeing in this latest coincidental action by IBM and NOW Solutions is that the human sales forces and human support forces are no longer needed on a local basis at the drop of a hat as before. That part of the business and all the required risk management can be eliminated. Funny to see these coincidental events as positive development while others are trying to make the events out to be calamity.

Previous paradigm, sales people were your only dependable link to your clients for pushing your software. Now? Not needed. You were supposed to design your business systems to conduct that business for you... not to act as a crutch to help your army of income tax payers and mortgaged dependents limp over to Bob's Monkey Knuckle Factory to see if he wants to buy more software.

It shouldn't be that way if you have a true Software (and Hardware) as a Service ecology as IBM seems to be saying.

It shouldn't be that way when your framework is supposed to leverage only the most absolutely required human efforts conducting and completing all the various "sales" efforts in the course of contacting, demonstrating, educating, shepherding, billing maintaining new clients.

YOU and your minimalist expert staff should be invisible. Your SERVICE should be ubiquitous and spectacular. And you can't do that on human sweat. You apply the human sweat to the design and construction and validation of the system and you then send those people off to the next company needing their services... and you no longer have to think of a way to pay for them.

THAT is what this next paradigm shift and disruption to the technology base will provide. It will be met by gasps of horror from the unions and the "everybody has to have a job no matter how menial" crowd. But, getting relieved of those duties will most likely be the best thing to happen to most of those relieved as they will be free to learn and explore a brand new business paradigm... while their colleagues are wondering why the hell you're smiling after being "let go".

The same will be said for maintenance workers and middle managers. There will be some very large wholesale restructurings in the bigger companies as they adopt a full-service mentality as opposed to a human-poked machine.

This is the new paradigm IBM is slipping into before all others have a chance... like shedding a dried up confining old skin that had been outgrown. This is what NOW Solutions appears to be doing. Should the SOA integration be done properly as we know IBM and NOW Solutions and Verizon can pull off, the result will be a much sleaker, more stealthy company well able to conduct business more quickly and more precisely without all the people required to execute your company's 'necessary evil' tasks. Why? Because your system won't have to introduce the typical human lag, latency and unpredictability your competitors will be struggling to revise.

This doesn't happen just because you select a SaaS. You either have to own an SOA arranged company or you have to have software that will make your company into an SOA platform. Without that, there is no hope for you no matter how much software or hardware you purchase.

Education in the months and years ahead will educate the lesser players. The larger ones are learning the lessons now and putting them to work for them and their shareholders. Those who can't offer these things will become increasingly isolated and irrelevant to the coming future merges of corporate structure without losing the original cultures that made those acquired corporations great.

If Microsoft is not able to accomplish this sort of integration and interoperation (we'll see, they've only now admitted interoperation is needed for doing enterprise work LOL), they will have bought a very expensive software package in advertising that advertises like all the rest... and will have to compete that way.

There are all sorts of advantages for getting rid of a sales force. For one, competitors will no longer be able to shadow your sales staff itineraries to spoil the field before you get there. Clients will be contacted, attracted, signed up and preened through the one item the company is supposed to provide... their service.

Somebody explain to me when you need a "real sales person". Make a list of your objections and then we'll see if your 'necessary evil' is really all that necessary or may be replaceable.

"What about if you needed them to set up hardware?"

Do your sales people set up hardware? Really? Good for you... you're a small business and it will naturally take some 'greater player' adoption time for the same leverage to filter to your level. Sales people for the big boys have "people" to do all that physical work for them. So if "sales" people don't do physical work, why can't they and their services be virtualized?

If you're a small business, the bigger boys will be re-purposing their personnel and structures over the next few years. Your small business will have the pick of the highest skilled sales people ever... to sell YOUR product... until you're ready to adopt a hands-off IT system.

Sales and maintenance are 'necessary evils', right? Corporations have been saying that for centuries. What would happen should that bromide no longer apply?

The "necessary evil" is what folks need to call out and cut out because it's no longer necessary.

"Well, they're going to need new hardware to run these services!"

No they won't. Chances are the existing hardware platform will support what IBM and NOW Solutions are offering as they have management systems to optimize the use of the existing platform... so "hardware upgrade" becomes a commodity thing ordered arranged and executed by the software - especially when the services and the entire farm are hosted, taking the burden off the backs of the clients.

So, congratulations to IBM for trimming their human needs (are we in business to make money or to give people dead-end jobs?) and congratulations to NOW Solutions for following suit.

And congratulations to those who will be released from working in a 'necessary evil' position. This has the opportunity to be the best thing that could have happened to you. Or, you could go work for Microsoft if you like the old life style where you can hawk your "Software" AND "Service".

The future is not just "SOA" or "SaaS" or "CaaS" but Processing and Actuation Software/Hardware Service Ecology and Economy...

OK I got dibs on the new acronym 'PASHSEE', ok? Get me a ticket to New York so I can sell this idea.

Once you see it, you'll wonder why they have to put light bulbs in the new server centres and you'll wonder why anyone ever needed a PDA to do "sales".

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