The perception gap between clients and vendors with social business and cloud

September 21 2011

I have heard something over the past couple of days that I thought I would put out for discussion. I am hearing about a huge gap between what vendors think is the current state with social business and cloud and what customers believe are important to them right now.

On one side we have the vendors who are changing everything to fit into the social business and/or cloud business models. From branding and marketing to strategy to how they align themselves internally as an organization. I get why. These are the buzzwords getting traction in the tech media space. The analysts, the advertising, the marketers. Social media is hot, let's build on top of it as social business. I am not arguing that this is not a hot topic in the marketplace. Same with cloud. It's the buzzword of the time. From the Microsoft commercials to the Google and Salesforce.com sales pitches. I hear many of our larger customers talking about the cloud.

On the other side of that coin are the companies that sell licenses and many customers I am talking too. They really don't care about the buzzwords. The license vendors are pushing software, from the OS to the desktop to the back end software. The smaller and medium businesses only want to hear about solutions that are going to solve their problems. No hype. They don't read analyst reports.They care about what their friend's at other companies are using to get their business done. I had one customer say to me 'I sometimes feel that people are using social business and cloud as a way to justify not reducing their costs because it is new and different.'

I am all for companies taking a leadership role in moving the market. I also think the same vendors need to remember that some companies don't care about what is new and shiny. They care about solving their business problems with solutions that are repeatable and proven. Just because you, the vendor, care about your new initiative, doesn't mean the prospective customer you are talking too does. Feel out the customer. If they aren't buying into the new pitch, fall back to the old style. There is nothing wrong with using an approach that the customer is comfortable with. Charging forward with your new initiative does no one any good.