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Never Underestimate the Little Guy

Last week I blogged about whether small IT shops were too small for HCI. This topic, along with following along with World Cup soccer matches, got me thinking about the relative size of organizations in the IT markets. What inspired me most about this topic was the appearance of Iceland and the absence of the USA in the World Cup.

Measured by population, Iceland is very small. It is not the smallest nation in the world, but definitely the smallest in the World Cup, by a big margin. In contrast, the USA is the third largest nation by population. By population, the USA is bigger than Iceland by a factor of 975 to 1. But Iceland qualified for the World Cup and the USA did not.

Now, before moving on, let us deal with some obvious objections to my argument. Yes, Iceland and the USA played in different qualifying groups against different opponents. You could argue that the USA faced a tougher qualifying group. You could also point out that despite qualifying, Iceland did not win any games and did not survive group play. True, but Iceland did play Argentina, arguably one of the better World Cup teams, to a draw and guess who also did not survive group play: Germany, the returning champions.

So back to discussing relative size. All things being equal, for every world class soccer player in Iceland, the USA should have about 975 world class soccer players. Why didn’t that ratio help the USA succeed? I guess you could say size is not the most important factor in determining quality or success.

Just this past week a colleague and I were discussing another IT company in a different market that was quite large and seemed to be doing quite well. We both had former colleagues that were now with this company. He mentioned their revenue along with the size of their sales team and I pointed out that our sales team was doing over twice as much revenue per capita. Although they were in a different market, that difference put into perspective that success is not necessarily about doing more, but about being more efficient in how you do it.

Every IT company starts small. Many (maybe most) of the best ideas and innovations come out of these small companies. If you overlook a company because of its size, you may be blinding yourself to a remarkably talented and successful team of people that has even more potential than the big teams. If Iceland can outperform the USA in the World Cup, maybe a smaller, more focused IT team like Scale Computing can do more for you than a giant IT corporation. Right?