I remembered back in 2007, I was an account manager with one of the leaders in virtualization technologies and cloud, in the pay-per-use sense, was very new. We had to explain and educate customers what it was and what it meant to them – it was the whole MSP/ASP model in 1990s – 2000, revampedto a private cloud with sophisticated multi tenant capabilities, front end self provisioning orchestration and a robust billing system for charge back which was key to the whole concept of Pay-As-You-Use. I remembered a pretty good recruiter asked me then – Exactly what does your company do? Because no layman could understand their literature.
Fast forward to today – The migration of practically everything from on-premise to the public cloud has permeated every layer to a very large extent from IaaS, PaaS and SaaS and from there sprouted a whole new ecosystem of support structure from developers, system integrators and Born In the Cloud partners. From a hiring standpoint, it presented vast opportunities and a lot of new roles such as cloud architect, cloud security architect, cloud hadoop developer, SDN architect…the list goes on. Clearly, organisations that are moving to the cloud require their staff to possess cloud-relevant skills, from the sales to the technical folks. Comments from hiring managers range from “they need to understand selling in an MRR way”, “selling subscription requires a high level of customer satisfaction instead of doing a one-deal-wonder” to the down right “I don’t want people from the traditional companies”.
However, with the demand moving fast than the tech companies can keep up, we are finding the gap in the talent as the amount of technical knowledge and experience expected is alot more than the average tech employee. The nett of it is that they tend to hire from other cloud companies, driving the compensation up and leaving the people from the “traditional” companies out.
So what are we to do? For tech guys, I often advise them to start taking courses to add new areas of expertise, read more, tinker with stuff when they are free – because very soon, the general expectation of a presales is going to be quite high, you have to know at least 2-3 major key solution pillars rather well instead of just one. Even harder to find is the capability to focus on business outcomes for the customer. This is a vast difference from the days of showing up, rattling off the specs and wait for the customer to ask a question, hoping “they will just buy”. With more competition from the Born In The Cloud partners and if they really do deliver that ‘outcome-based’ solutions, the tech guys from the vendors and the large SIs cannot afford to be laid back or disengaged anymore.
For the sales people, from my perspective, there are only 3 skills that matter and will port over well from selling a million dollar hardware heavy solution to any of the cloud models: 1. the ability to understand your customer’s business and tailor what you have for them. It is as opposed to having not a clue how your customer is going to use your 2M USD hardware except to run SAP, for not-sure-what business purpose 2. the ability to keep that pulse on and scale as your customer grow their business through the years as opposed to I will see them 3 years later after this deal. 3. the ability to either teach your customer to use what you sold or engage them with a reliable long term partner, as opposed to selling them a support contract that they hopefully don’t activate. As long as you can demonstrate these 3 transferable skills, IMHO, it is not a big transition to make.
We all know it is more competitive now with fewer jobs and jobs requiring one person to take responsibilities that used to be taken on by a few people. But with the right attitude to keeping learning and with friends in the organization who are also going the same challenges together (something very important to your mental health in the work place which I will cover in the next blog hopefully), there’s still a silver lining out there.