Does your IT services organization have a niche? Is your time and attention focused on a specific technology like VOIP and telephony solutions? Or are you zeroed in on a specific customer set like legal services or finance organizations? Maybe your organization is small and takes on any job that comes through the door out of financial necessity. Perhaps you’ve been at this for a long time, have run the numbers, and know that working on two or three core offerings is best for your company. Regardless of where your organization is and where it plans to go, understanding the advantages and pitfalls of IT specialization will help make sure you are on the right path both now and in the future.

Examining a technology problem

Expertise trumps generalization in IT services.
Image courtesy of Aftershock Tech.

There are typically two types of types of specialization available in the enterprise: product or market. Product specialization means your organization offers a limited and specific set of goods and/or services as the core of your business. For example, maybe you offer Sharepoint training or Hosted VOIP service. Market specialization means that your goods and services are offered to only a specific customer type or industry. Focusing your offerings on businesses with fewer than 50 employees or government agencies is a form of specialization. Quite often these two types of specialization are combined. As an example, maybe your company offers managed services to law firms or data storage solutions for municipalities.

The advantages of specialization are many. For starters, specializing allows your team to become expert in certain technologies or markets which creates a competitive advantage when approaching a prospect. The downside of this is that by voluntarily limiting your expertise or offering, you are significantly reducing the potential customer pool available to your organization.  Are there enough customers available for the market you intend to enter or for the service you intend to provide? Specialization also allows you to be more efficient with your available resources and partnerships. If your offerings or customer pool are too diverse, than your team may find itself in the trap of trying to manage and promote services and products that do not complement each other or lead to a positive customer experience. Spreading personnel too thin can lead to disastrous results. Unfortunately, this also means that if a client needs something you can not provide, they may look to find a vendor that provides all of their needed services.

IT personnel

Specialization prevents your organization from spreading your personnel too thin.
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Despite these challenges, the primary benefit of specializing your business is that choosing a niche or vertical in which to operate can exponentially increase the velocity of your growth. Specializing allows you to stand out from the crowd and be the “market leader” in something. For example, there are dozens and dozens of managed services providers in every major city in the United States. But there are not likely to be more than one or two managed services providers specializing in Apple/Mac environments or with experience in supporting commercial construction software. Finding a speciality allows your business to differentiate itself from the competition and demonstrate expertise at the same time. Click here to learn how working with an expert instead of a generalist can pay huge dividends for your organization!