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On Value

If you don’t know, my passion outside of technology, entrepreneurship and writing on this blog is photography.  I’ve recently been spending even more time on that passion of mine…which is OK by me :)

Don’t fret though…I still love thinking, and writing, about IT and people

One of the photography blogs that I regularly follow is called “A Photo Editor“.  In a recent post titled “Microstock Unsustainable According To iStockphoto“, the author provides a brief commentary on a fairly turbulent argument about stock photography.

The stock photography issue / argument has been raging for a few years and and ultimately it boils down to the argument of whether ‘professional’ photographers livelihoods are being affected by ‘amateurs’ within the industry.

This argument is one I find interesting and deeper than what most people want to admit too.

On one side you have ‘Professional’ photographers and on the other you have ‘amateurs’ or ‘semi-professionals’.  The pros are complaining that the non-pros are cutting into their livelihood.  The stock photography business has been one of the main drivers of that argument for a few years.

Personally, I think the argument is rather shallow….if there is a professional photographer out there who’s gone out of business due to non-pros, I’d say there’s more at issue there than just pricing.

The world of photography isn’t the only place this is happening though…the same argument is being had in every industry today.  Here’s a few areas where the debate about ‘pro’ v ‘non-pro’ is happening today

  • Need a logo designer? You can pay a ‘professional’ a couple thousand dollars or you can post your request on 99Designs and get a logo for ~$295.  Many ‘professional’ designers are bemoaning the fact that these ‘amateurs’ are now ‘allowed into the industry’ with statements like “the kiddie designers of 99Designs“.
  • Need a website?  You can spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or you can spend a few thousand dollars (or less).  You can go with a local web designer / developer for very little money or hire a large organization to build your site.  Or…you can crowdsource the work.  Whichever you choose, your budget will dictate the large or small price tag…but you will ultimately pick the proposal with the most value to you.
  • Need a wedding photographer?  You can spend ten thousand (or more) for a photographer or five hundred for a photographer.  Will you get the same results from from each? Depends on whether you see the value in what the higher priced photographer provides.

Why would you pay more money for something like a website or logo than you need to?    Probably because you’ve been sold on the value found in the higher priced option.

Say it with me…V-A-L-U-E .

You might opt to spend 10 times as much for a logo or photographer because you see the value there.   If you pick the cheaper option, perhaps its because you don’t see the difference in the product that costs 10x as much.

Let’s play a game…you want to hire a social media consultant for a day.  Here are your two options:

  • Option 1:  Consultant #1 will charge you $2000 to come to your business to talk about Social Media & Marketing.  You found this person on twitter and they seem to know what they are talking about.  I mean…they have the title of ‘social media ninja’ so they gotta know what their doing, right?
  • Option 2: Chris Brogan will charge you $22,000 to come to your business for a day to talk about Social Media & Marketing. You found Chris while searching the web and asking around.  Chris is listed #2 on the AdAge Power150…so he’s got to know a little bit about what he’s talking about right?

Which option do you take?

Some might pay consultant #1 $2K for a day while others may see the value in what Chris brings.  Me?  I’d take Chris for $22K. I don’t have $22K…but that’s beside the point :)

So….value is what you make it.  Value is what you communicate.  Value is what you can deliver.

The key is helping the buyer understand that value.

The Microstock article listed above closes with a pretty insightful statement:

Trying to be the cheapest is a miserable business to be in.

I tend to agree….very few companies or people have achieved long term success by being the lowest priced option (Wal-mart is one…but are they the exception?).   But…if you are the highest priced option in the marketplace, you can’t make the argument that the ‘cheap’ guy is an amateur, stealing your business and destroying your livelihood. You’ve got to step up and show the value in what you do.  Target is a great example…they are a higher priced option than Wal-Mart…and have been pretty successful at it.

Pretty similar to the modern IT group, no?

Modern IT is full of people proclaiming that cloud software is taking away their ‘business’.  Modern IT is full of professionals screaming about the non-pro’s forging ahead in the murky world of Shadow IT.  Modern IT is busy trying to implement processes and procuedures to ensure Shadow IT (and the people behind it) are driven out of ‘business’.

But…is anyone in Modern IT asking the simplest question?

Is anyone asking why?

Why are these things happening?   I’d argue that its because many in today’s organization are tired of paying money for no value.  Many are tired of wasting time with the modern IT group.

So…those of us in IT….take a second to step back and ask yourself this question:  Does the organization understand your value?

My bet is they don’t.  My bet is that they see you as the ‘highest priced option’ but they don’t understand that value wrapped in the  ‘price’.

Value is in the eye of the beholder….and its your job to make that value visible and understood.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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13 years ago
13 years ago

Amen Eric! | "On Value" on my tech/strategy blog that uses photographers as an example – http://bit.ly/94px64 (via @photo_minute)

13 years ago

Just published an article titled "On Value" on my tech/strategy blog that uses photographers as an example – http://bit.ly/94px64

13 years ago

On Value: If you don’t know, my passion outside of technology, entrepreneurship and writing on this blog is photog… http://bit.ly/aJWQdo

13 years ago

#baot Reading: On Value http://ht.ly/19ehUd

13 years ago

RT @ericdbrown: Published: On Value https://ericbrown.com/on-value.htm

13 years ago

Your key point on “value” is spot on. The IT challenge of “build versus buy” is another example of the perceived value in buying some off the shelf, proven via other similar customers for the hefty price, or, roll your own to control the feature set and have complete decision latitude on what you need. Some decisions are obvious (who builds there own corporate PC hardware these days?) and some not so much (how much do you in source your web development compared to outsource)?

Good stuff, nice job weaving photograph challenges with IT challenges.


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