A common question is how much of today's new technology is going to make it? With years of observing great new technology reaching the market, only to fail to get a foothold, it's easy to become sceptical about the claims made about new products.
But forget the new products . . . we really have to ask ourselves how many of the products that have made it are also likely to fall by the wayside. Even critical mass isn't enough to ensure a product's future. Without wanting to put the mockers on anyone, there's a lot of talk, for instance, about the viability of various popular networking and messaging systems now standing in the shadow cast by Intranet applications.
Perhaps it all comes down to the thing that Kyocera has been telling us about laser printers for quite a while - it isn't just the initial cost we have to consider, but the total cost of the job done over the life of the product. And that means the money that's already been spent, too. A common mistake is to believe that, once money has been outlaid, the only course is to live with the decision.
The mistake here is that you can constantly re-evaluate the situation, taking all factors into account. For example, your customer may have installed three expensive network printers to serve 20 users. This meant a capital expenditure for the printers and the networking infrastructure, plus the ongoing service and consumables cost. But if you re-do the calculation today, there may be a case for selling two of the big printers and putting an inexpensive laser on each person's desk. The calculation could take into account factors such as convenience, network loading, privacy, total cost per sheet, likely increase in printing, increased use of graphics in printing, impact of e-mail and so on.
Some resellers offer an audit service to their customers. By examining the resources, the needs and the methods, they can make suggestions that may or may not earn them more money, but will certainly benefit the customer. As an outsider they can ask all of the questions like "why do you have that?" or "what is it you really want to do?". These questions possibly have political ramifications inside the customer's organisation, yet they need to be asked.
Of course, a good reseller is also a good listener, and quickly learns which questions are best left unasked.