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Business Practices

The Myth of the Technician Demigod

I used to sell software for an ERP company. I was reasonably good at it, and I enjoyed helping clients with their operational challenges. However, my understanding of the underlying technology that ran the software was woefully inadequate.

At a certain stage of the sales cycle, our head technician – let’s call him Brad – would be invited to engage. This is where it usually got difficult for me. Brad was very smart. He knowledge was encyclopedic and his capacity for complex expression, exemplary. He was intimidating. But he was something of a technician demigod.

In hindsight, I understand why our interactions were awkward and strained. I was ignorant, I asked a lot of dumb questions and many times, I needed things explained twice (which usually left me even more confused). Brad didn’t like this, and his patience would wear thin. The less patient he became, so too, the more cryptic has answers.

I’ve worked with many technicians over the years, and I’ve sometimes acted as an intermediary between techies and clients. It’s hard to say whether the profession attracts certain personality types, or it fosters and invokes common behaviors. Either way, it’s easy to see why many clients become frustrated with their ‘IT guy or gal’. The technician thinks the client is ignorant, backwards-thinking and easy to manipulate. The client thinks the technician suffers delusions of grandeur, with a good dose of ‘princess syndrome’ thrown in, and preys on their ignorance.

From what I see, though, this is slowly changing. It has to. Thank cloud computing, outsourcing and SaaS for that.

It’s getting easier to replace recalcitrant technicians with ones who listen to the client and use business outcomes as their strategic driver. They don’t speak in tongues and they don’t behave like a whining eight-year-old bed-wetter.

This is the great thing about the Internet and globalization. It forces individuals and businesses to be genuinely competitive – not just on pricing, but service. For some businesses, though, it is the worst thing, because they need to make dramatic changes to their internal culture – one that has protected them for so long. They can’t hide behind the myth of the all-seeing, all-knowing technician any longer.

Over the next few years, there will be many losers in this space. But for those who genuinely hold business outcomes as the driving force behind their recommendations, their strategies and their actions, it’s a splendid time to be an IT Technician.

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