I spent a lot of time in June flying about to customers, prospects, and partners. Much more than usual, in fact, and while there were some cool and not-so-cool places on the itinerary, across the board it was interesting to meet folks in different parts of the world.
A big part of my job here at STEALTHbits is to talk to people. Sometimes I’m convincing them how cool our products are, sometimes I’m training them on how to use the products, and sometimes I’m trying to learn from them what their needs are and what else we can be doing as a company to make their lives easier.
One of the more interesting things to come out of the trip, for me, was a feel for how places do business differently. It’s not just dressed code, but the dress code was definitely a part of the difference. In my case, across the different regions and companies I visited, the same kind of business meeting required different dress codes, and quite different at that. In no particular order:
- Suit and tie
- Suit, no tie
- Definitely no suit, jeans and T-shirt best
- Dress shirt, nice slacks
Dress code is really just the visible part of a deeper set of differences, however. In some regions, if you don’t have partners, you don’t get business. Other regions prefer direct sales. In some places, they’re very laid back, and in others, they’re high maintenance, everything needs to be just so. You might expect that the suit guys are the uptight guys, but that’s not really true. In some places, the regional managers have a lot of autonomy and can make larger deal decisions. On others, everything needs executive sign-off from the CISOs. Differences happen from company to company, of course, but there are common threads that provide regional, rather than corporate, flavor. Think about the difference between doing business in California, and doing business in Texas, and you start to get a feel for what I’ve been seeing.
As a company, the differences represent both challenges and opportunities. Challenges, because one size clearly doesn’t fit all – there’s no one way to do business, so there’s no one sales policy that fits all, and a company doing business needs to be flexible. And opportunities because if you can manage the differences better than your competition, you will do very well where they stumble.
So, to sum it up, I saw a lot of different people with a lot of different attitudes towards a lot of different things. The more curious thing was that no matter where I went, they all had similar security needs. Networks are big, complicated places, organized in a lot of different ways with a lot of different tools – yet the core is the same. Manage your users and your applications. Protect your data, structured and unstructured. And do it in a way that’s as easy and automated as you can get it.
Honestly, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.