The tech market: Moving from ‘tell’ to ‘listen’

[Disclosure: Companies listed in this article are clients of the author.]

At Cisco’s big event this week, they launched a new processor (which I’m sure excited the chip companies), a nice new line of hardware and a new OS. But the biggest announcement – and the one least talked about – was their strategic change allowing customers to mix and match these components and create their own solutions.

They weren’t the first, on the processor side. AMD’s differentiator, for instance, was to offer semi-custom parts. They were followed by both Qualcomm and Intel, who created custom parts for Microsoft and their latest Surface X product, as well as their coming dual-screen Surface Neo offering.

Cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft have been the most aggressive in terms of providing choices that now range from a variety of platforms to a wide variety of hardware, including, recently, Quantum platforms. Choice, to a large extent, is now used by this class of company as a major competitive differentiator.

As we look across the ecosystem, this represents a major strategy change, one that moves companies from telling customers what they want to one where companies ask what their customers want and allow them to choose from alternatives.

This is potentially a much better world, but only if the customers know what they want. That’s where I think the problem and opportunity reside, because, right now, customers often don’t know what they want…and aren’t used to being asked.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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