This morning AT&T announced new data pricing for its mobile customers. Today's $30 per month unlimited use plan will be replaced by two plans:
$15 per month for up to 200 megabytes of data, with additional blocks of 200 MB at $15 each.
$25 per month for up to 2 gigabytes of data, with additional blocks of 1 GB at $10 each.
AT&T's CEO of Consumer, Ralph de la Vega, has publicly suggested on multipleoccasions that network operators need to address the small percentage of subscribers that abuse unlimited usage plans and degrade the experience of others on the network. These suggestions have been met with howls by many, and I expect that we'll see similar reactions to this latest change. But will those reactions be justified? The answer depends on whether you believe AT&T's data on its current data users.
Mark Collins, AT&T's Senior VP of Data and Voice Products, told us that 65% of today's smartphone data users consume less than 200 MB of data per month, and 98% of them use less than 2 GB of data per month. These data plans then represent an opportunity for virtually all of AT&T's data customers to reduce their monthly data charges. For consumer product strategists, this change shows a remarkably (and, for some, surprisingly) customer-centric viewpoint. Why?
I was recently asked about the importance of selling skills for CIOs - does a CIO need to be a good salesperson? It seems to me the answer to this should be a resounding yes. After all, IT executives need to be able to sell themselves effectively in order to attain the heights of the C-Suite. Great CIOs must be great communicators, capable of delivering a compelling presentation or a memorable speech, and inspiring others to follow them.
But what of sales skills beyond being a good presenter? Since many sales skills are focused on understanding people and connecting with them, I've found sales training to be highly effective on two levels:
Developing better listening skills. One of the first things you learn as a salesperson is not how to make a pitch, but how to listen to a customer - only by listening can a good salesperson effectively satisfy the needs of a prospect/customer.
Understanding how products/services meet the customer needs. Salespeople spend a lot of time learning about a firm's products and services; they learn how they meet the various customer needs and they learn how to present them in the best light.
So go ahead and sign up for the next sales training class being run in your organization - you may be pleasantly surprised!
Are CIOs the only people in IT needing sales skills?
I'd like to make the case for putting everyone in IT through sales training - here's why:
Enterprise telecoms market consolidation can disrupt your service delivery if your service provider is acquired by a competitor. Other disruptions that might have a negative impact on the quality of service delivery and/or account management by your provider of choice include your provider’s decision to spin off or sell assets and business operations that support services you depend on, or if they opt to exit a local market entirely – offering you just 60 days (and sometimes less) for you to make alternative arrangements.
If you don’t have a succession clause in your telecoms contracts today, consider adding one the next time you renew or sign a new contract for network and telecoms services, even if the service provider in question is not providing essential connectivity or other services. If you depend heavily on a single provider for supporting most of your network and telecoms service needs – such as local access, long-distance and international voice, and your data WAN – take the time at the earliest opportunity to discuss your options with your provider’s account team, with the aim of amending an in-progress contract. This should be done if you have more than 12 months remaining on a contract term, or if you have a revenue commitment that is less than 75% met. A clearly spelled out succession clause contributes to a successful commercial relationship between customer and service provider.
Last week, Forrester held its annual IT Forum in Las Vegas with the interesting theme, “The Business Technology Transformation: Making It Real.” Gathering together a group of IT professionals and vendors interested in how business leaders will insert themselves into technology decisions, it provided a perfect opportunity for me to discuss Technology Libertarianism – my shorthand for IT departments that take a hands off approach to technologies workers want to use to do their jobs. On the floor of the conference I talked to an IT professional at a large, national non-profit organization and two information workers from at a public corporation providing a popular software-as-a-service application.
The conversation with the IT professional centered on his organization’s need for standardization: they were making efforts to have a homogeneous computing environment for the purposes of having greater control. During our talk, we discussed the influence an end user could possibly have over applications and hardware. His thoughts? While the end users in his organization needed a standard set of applications, and they needed to control the desktop environment to ensure delivery of said applications, he could see the potential of not having to standardize smartphones. When I introduced the idea of virtual desktops to push applications or software-as-a-service, which would allow him not to have to standardize the desktop, he did concede those are interesting ideas. However, he needed to see more evidence that these could be effective solutions for his organization.