The Evolution Of Buyer’s Expectations – Enter “As-An-Outcome”

Dane Meah
April 3, 2018



Back when things were simple, if you wanted to buy a widget, you’d likely go to a shop and buy the said widget. So long as the widget was not faulty, the exchange with given retailer was finished. Very transactional and very simple.

Of course, a certain amount of complexity could arguably be added if and when you increase the sophistication of the Product, but on the whole, when you order that product, it’s up to you to make it work in line with usage guidelines (or not).

A very good example of this was a PC built from the component products. I, like many other people in IT, grew up and built my first PC at home and whilst I enjoyed the process of finding a local supplier, ordering the parts and working out how to make the thing work, it was complex and had various missteps before it worked. In the Enterprise space, in just the email category, we had software for processing your email, software to remove malware, software to remove spam, software to archive, software for mail platform. IT Departments were full of domain experts that finely tuned every piece of software they consumed. It was complex to manage and by 2000’s it was reaching a breaking point.

Then in the 2000’s or “naughties” came the birth of solutions. Buyers had grown weary of buying lots of point products and trying to mix and combine these to find the perfect balance of products to solve a given problem within the allocated budget. Now retailers would supply the finished bundle to meet your everyday needs. Again in the consumer space, that meant bundled solutions that included the full PC tower with a screen, keyboard, and mouse or even simpler with a laptop. Moving into the Enterprise sphere the vendors and resellers started to bundle multiple components of software and/or hardware to address pertinent issues. From the Enterprise Email Gateway to Data Centre solutions, Microsoft Office Suite, Networking and other workspace solutions. Meanwhile, organisations were steadily growing their IT skills and knowledge to keep pace with the increasing footprint of the IT systems and architecture. Each company had the perfect balance of the right solutions and the skills they needed to ensure success, or did they?

Enter “As A Service”. Around 2010 or teens dawned a new era when things that were Hosted or a Managed Service became Cloud or X-as-a-Service… often those words were used interchangeably and quite confusingly so. At about the same time, IT leaders were becoming less interested in building technology empires and more focused on the goals and ultimate mission of their business. Whether that mission was to bake bread or build houses, IT Leaders no longer had time or appetite to be the expert in every technology they consumed, they had to pivot and focus on what the business was there to do. They were, in essence, just another user of the technology – a power user, but a user none-the-less.

However, what someone forgot to tell the buyers was that

  1. Cloud Technologies DON’T JUST WORK.
  2. Set and forget IS NOT A GOOD STRATEGY.
  3. “As-a-Service” does NOT REMOVE YOUR OVERHEAD.

Cloud and “as-a-service” has created the perfect storm.


That brings us to today and the problem most organisations I am meeting are facing. They have an ever-increasing pool of SaaS Applications that regularly deliver 50% of the anticipated Return on Investment. The illusive ROI, as I call it, is what the well-polished sales proposal claims to deliver, but it is never actually achieved. Why is this? The supplier is rarely motivated to ensure the success of the project and the sales rep is incentivised (and often instructed) to move onto the next sale. Meanwhile, the customer is left picking up the pieces and limps through the implementation before facing project fatigue and moving onto something new.

Today there’s an app for everything and due to the removal of the need for infrastructure or staff to “keep the lights on”, organisations are taking on more and more and more.


To me, it feels very similar to what it did a decade ago. As buyers become more and more focused on driving business outcomes, they need providers that deliver Outcomes, not services, solutions or products. Buyers want to know that in exchange for agreed $$$ commitment, the problem is solved or a specific benefit is gained.

The buyer’s expectation from their provider will be rising to new heights and innovation in how Vendors and Service Providers deliver against this expectation is needed.

The best organisations recognise “as-an-Outcome” is what customers actually want and are pivoting their workforce to support the customer towards this. I recently heard that Microsoft compensates sales reps for successful utilisation, not just signing the deal. More broadly we hear of Customer Success teams being created within more advanced SaaS businesses. But even then, I still feel greater maturity is needed within these teams to ensure the support doesn’t tail off after the initial engagement.

At Infotrust, we have a Customer Success model that incorporates all facets of our business, from sales, to support and finance, with ongoing engagements measured by KPI metrics across the business.


Which service providers have you seen that are truly delivering “as-an-Outcome” to your business?