Who buys an OSS and why? The buyer’s hat analogy

There are people who are really good managers, people who can manage a big organization, and then there are people who are very analytic or focused on strategy. Those two types don’t usually tend to be in the same person. I would put myself much more in the latter camp.”
Mark Zuckerberg

Who buys an OSS and why? The manager or the strategist? The one with the business mindset or the one with the technical mindset?

Traditionally, OSS have been used by managers as management tools:

  • Managing the network
  • Managing the workforce
  • Managing the designs
  • Managing the service levels
  • Managing the customers

Within this context an OSS is a cost centre (usually).

If we are to collectively push OSS to great heights, allowing them to thrive in their next iterations, they must become powerful tools for the strategist too:

  • Business enablers across all / most business units rather than just network operations and IT
  • Provide business-focused insights
  • Provide new market identification and revenue optimisation
  • Customer-centricity rather than Network or Product-centricity
  • Empower innovation rather than choking it
  • Provide faster time to market (TTM) of new products and of each customer service
  • Facilitate faster transformations
  • Cope with disruptive innovation through technology and service flexibility
  • Enhance cost / benefit / risk profiling

This value-add strategic shift is already underway within many of the vendors although it still has plenty of scope for future refinement and innovation.

The challenge when making your pitch is understanding whether you’re presenting to a Mark Zuckerberg-type or the management team. Your pitch and your products need elements of both because chances are that both types are on the senior OSS project evaluation team, not to mention being key consumers of OSS-driven information.

There are multiple touch-points and each touch-point will have different drivers. In fact each touch-point might have a different type of person controlling the messaging. At a very minimum, there will be two touch-points:

  • The person with the commercial / finance hat – will consider the commercial / business aspects of a deal, including business case, ROI, cost-benefits, payback period, allocation of funds
  • The person with the technical hat – will consider the operational benefits, whether the solution can scale, whether it fits the functional needs of the company, whether it can be integrated, whether it can be transitioned from current to future state, etc

It’s quite rare for a single person to be able to wear both of these hats

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