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“Nobody gets fired for buying IBM”

The phrase "Nobody gets fired for buying IBM" has been a steadfast mantra in the tech industry, underscoring the inclination to choose established, reliable vendors to sidestep blame when issues arise. Twenty years ago, everyone knew that choosing reputable brands, such as IBM, was the way to go. Yet, they were slow to implement and didn't always deliver what was needed. Decision-makers preferred taking the easiest route, even if it meant waiting years and spending millions, just to avoid risking their own positions.

Thankfully, this notion is no longer relevant. And for good reason. This outdated, safety-first mindset frequently results in suboptimal decisions and hinders innovation, preventing businesses from reaching their full potential.

The problem of homogeneity

The problem with this approach is the lack of differentiation; everyone choosing the same vendors results in a monotonous market with no innovation. If there's no differentiation, the market stagnates, offering nothing new. 

This is unacceptable today. 

Relying only on big names means you'll always encounter the same flaws and restricted offerings as your clients and competitors. This limits what your teams can achieve and leads to dysfunction rather than progress. Don't get me wrong, IBM is an amazing company that makes incredible products. However, in our business, specific needs require tailored solutions. Choosing IBM-type solutions solely to stay in a safe zone will never propel your organisation forward. It's too slow, too expensive, and not agile enough.

What’s changed today?

Today, transparency, advancement and innovation are crucial. Choosing the most expensive, easiest brand is no longer the right approach for everyone because, nowadays, the market is much more fragmented. In addition, technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. Sticking with old technology will leave you behind; you simply can't survive like that anymore. 

What happens, for instance, when you need specific solutions for a new order type or instrument? You find yourself stuck, waiting years for the upgrade simply because you do not take precedence in the queue alongside the larger exchanges. You thought you bought a limousine, but instead, you'll have to try to enjoy the ride in a Fiat Cinquecento.

A fresh perspective

Make the right decision by selecting the right vendor and bringing fresh perspectives to the table. The more competitive you get, the faster your technology needs to evolve, with better tools and deeper capabilities. There are providers out there who may not have a big household brand name, but they can take your business much further. The next step is to differentiate for growth.

Choose growth

The old adage "no one got fired for choosing IBM" no longer holds true. Using outdated methodologies from the past won't cut it anymore. The fear of being wrong and getting fired should be eradicated from modern organisational policy. Without the willingness to innovate and iterate, progress is impossible. Choosing something different is not a liability, but rather a pathway to growth and success.


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 21 May, 2024, 14:35Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

There were tons of established, reliable tech vendors in the era when the phrase "Nobody gets fired for buying IBM" was coined. From what I know, the backstory for this phrase is not tech chops but integrity, which was unique to IBM. 

IBM never bribed customers to win deals, unlike most of its competitors. Tech projects fail for a lot of reasons such as change management challenges, poor data quality, and so on, for which the customer company is to blame – not CIO or tech vendor. When customer bought from somebody other than IBM and the project failed, aspersion would be cast immediately on the CIO’s integrity, it would be taken for granted that the CIO took a bribe, and s/he would be fired without any due process – such as post-mortem / inquest – to investigate into other reasons for project failure. Whereas, when customer bought from IBM and the project failed, corruption was completely ruled out, CIO got the benefit of a “fair trial”, inevitably other reasons would be found for project failure that were unrelated to the CIO, and CIO got to keep his or her job.

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