In the February 15th issue of Information Week's Global CIO, Rob Preston wrote about the "The 10 Most Strategic IT Vendors
," which he described as a "back-of-the-napkin Top 10 ranking of the world's most strategic IT vendors." The focus of the story was on vendors who have such a central place in the IT infrastructure of a particular customer, that they may be regarded as an almost indispensable business partner. The fact that IBM was ranked #1 in his article (ahead of SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco, in that order) isn't terribly surprising here, and it ties in nicely to Tivoli's efforts to position its offerings in the mid-market.
How does one become such an important strategic vendor? Certainly having vast portfolio breadth gives a vendor the opportunity to sprinkle its products throughout a customer's IT infrastructure. And given the heartburn and switch-out costs of a rip-and-replace primary vendor change in IT infrastructure management, becoming that key strategic partner early on pays huge dividends for both vendor and customer.
Therein lies a substantial amount of the motivation behind Tivoli's mid-market offerings. Spinning out new delivery mechanisms and creating new sales channels to reach this market comes with costs, and the average deal size of engagements in the mid-market certainly isn't what Tivoli sellers are used to with larger enterprise customers. However, thinking strategically, we know that many of these mid-market customers will grow, and making our enterprise-class IT infrastructure management products accessible now gives us a head start on becoming those customers' indispensable strategic partner of the future, so it's a wise investment.
Establishing that foundation is also behind the decision not to create new, watered-down products for the mid-market, but instead to create new, more consumable delivery vehicles for Tivoli's enterprise-class products. By finding a way to make our enterprise offerings fit into the budget and IT skill sets of mid-market customers, we're establishing ourselves as the partner that can grow as the customer grows, without the prospect of costly rip-and-replace scenarios or having to learn how to use new IT tools. As we grapple with the challenges of meeting the needs of mid-market customers, we remind ourselves every day that our first sale with a new mid-market customer is not the end of an engagement, but the beginning of a long, prosperous partnership with a future enterprise customer.