Don’t know what you need?


How do you buy something if you don’t know what you need? That sounds like an easy problem, something that we have to deal with everyday yet it is not quite that simple.

If I need to buy a car, I pop along to the showroom with an idea of what I, or rather we, want, check out what’s available and make a selection from there. Perhaps I can’t get exactly what I need as it doesn’t exist or is outside my budget and so a compromise is required. I pick a vehicle from what is available.

If I need to get something for my tea I can go to the supermarket or ring up for a teakeway. I can only choose form what is on offer and so perhaps I don’t get exactly what I want and so, once again a compromise is required.

In both these examples, I was able to make my choice from an existing selection. My choice was limited by what was available and this allowed me to offset some preferences against another.

What happens though when there is no showroom or supermarket to visit. What do you do when you want to buy a solution to a set of problems and you have very little knowledge of what is available.

Such a situation can exist when choosing to buy technology. Yes, you may well know what you are trying to achieve and you can spell out to potential vendors your current volumes and activities but with the rapid change of pace in technology it is difficult, if not impossible to buy something that will suit your purposes over the next few years.

Buying like for like is easy, buying for an unpredictable future is not.

In this case it is the quality of the vendor that will make the difference. With an uncertain set of future requirements it is the relationship with the company that is more important than the initial prepared solution. Flexibility in thought and proposed solutions is of much greater value than the ability to supply kit to a specification.

The problem is that this is much harder to specify than a list of requirements.

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