I’ve worked with many different types of companies. They can be separated by market; healthcare, medical research, insurance, financial services, etc. However, it’s more important for me to determine if they are a technology company or a services company. I use a simple matrix to determine what type of company I’m working with.
A services company has a strong focus on providing human capitol to fulfill the needs of clients. They tend to be tactical and operational, putting out the biggest fire. A well run services company has clear operational processes. They may depend on technology to operate. They may even have an IT department with developers. However, technology isn’t in their blood. The IT department isn’t a core part of the business model. It’s an enabler. You can hear operations shops when you walk in the door, it’s noisy with a lot of people moving around.
On the other hand, a technology company fulfills the needs of the clients by building a product. They have to plan releases and feature sets for future release. This requires thinking strategically about the product they are building. They have a product roadmap. The business model surrounds some technical product. At times, technology companies can become more tactical. For example, a buggy release may put everyone in fire fighting mode for a bit. However, things always revert to building future features and long-term customer satisfaction. Technology is in their blood. You can hear it in the halls.
Many companies still say they’re technology companies when they’re really service companies. C-level executives may have some emotional attachment and want to run some sexy technology company. However, this only serves to confuse customers and employees.
Customers know if they need a technology or service company. A service company requires a completely different working arrangement than a technology company. A technology company usually provides minimal person interaction to resolve issues. A service company is only a phone call away.
Employees working in a technology company are expecting to use or build technology which automates tasks for the customer. They’re working on building a long-term strategic product for the company. Service companies need employees to put out a fire NOW. They’re expected to work on short-term tactical goals. Some employees thrive in the excitement of operational work. While others, do better with methodical planning.
You will be able to work with your clients and employees/employers much better if you are honest about your company type. Knowing if you’re in a strategic or operational environment allows you to hire the right people and understand better the needs of your clients.
Please be honest. You’ll save yourself, your employees, and your clients confusion.