The servant leader oxymoron embodies Quartet’s development challenge. The conflicting demands of being both a servant and a leader are difficult to manage, frustrating and often lead to compromise. This letter is about the nature of IT servant leadership and what Quartet is doing to meet the challenges.
The majority of our new customers are mid-tier companies that depended on a single IT contractor or internal IT manager and have endured the limitations of that approach. Lack of technical depth, inconsistent response, limited support tools and personality dependent service are some of them. They come to us to get more reliable service, objectivity and additional technical capability. Essentially, they are using our processes and leveraging our economies of skill and scale. They are looking for leadership in their quest to get the most from modern information technology.
Many of our older customers have evolved from our original rapid-response, break-fix services to a more comprehensive “show us what we can do with technology” orientation. That evolution is difficult and when we lose customers at this time, they often spend much more money with the new service supplier. They trust us but require a different approach than the one our relationship was built on. It is difficult enough to change your game plan, but even more difficult to change perceptions.
We’re fueling our IT servant leadership efforts through extensive training, recruiting and partnering. We built a unified communications demonstration centre and hold events there to trial the latest communications technologies. We purchased a small consulting company and hired an entire consulting team from one of our competitors. We are aggressively partnering with Cisco and Microsoft and have participated in several early adopter programs where our clients receive direct compensation.
One of the side benefits of this activity is that we are attracting the attention of larger customers. We now have several large enterprise customers and are in discussions with several others. We expect many more traditional customers will adopt our servant leadership services in the near future and we are preparing for that.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to enhance our product line (we’ll be introducing an exciting new cell phone management service next month) we’ll strive to exceed our service commitments and try to keep our philosophic comments to ourselves. I welcome your opinions, comments and criticisms.