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What do you expect from your I/T Vendors/Partners?

By David Rayner | Jul 07, 2010 | Business, Insights

Maybe a better question is what should you expect from your I/T vendors and partners? Unfortunately for all of us who make a living selling and deploying technology-based solutions, expectations over time, thanks to over-zealous sales teams and over-reaching companies have boiled expectations down to “least common denominator” expectations that devalue what we do as professionals and frankly handcuff the value we deliver to our clients. Over the years I have heard comments from prospects and clients about what they want from their vendors and partners. It is easy stuff, almost silly stuff when you think about it. I have heard things like: “be responsive…do what you say you are going to do…be available when we need you…know something about our business before you make recommendations” Ouch! These aren’t very high hurdles to clear. However, for some they apparently represent the zenith of relationships with their technology vendors and deployment partners.

It pains me to see the bar for our industry set so low. On the surface it makes our jobs seem pretty trivial and frankly pretty easy. “Do what you say you are going to do?…know my business?” When these are the expectations from customers, it makes it pretty hard to elevate the conversations to something more impactful than being the low-cost provider of commodity products and services. I hate for all companies to get caught up in the short-sighted, self-serving actions of a few, but it appears to be where are today.

In my humble opinion, the expectations of good partner performance as noted above are not even worthy of discussions. They should be assumed. If we don’t do our homework before we show up on site, we should not be asked back. If we over promise and under deliver, we should be held accountable to meet our obligations…before we are shown the door.

The disappointing realization in shortcomings of these low expectations is that I/T is and should be incredibly relevant to most every business and organization today. There are tremendous efficiency opportunities and differentiating technologies today that can improve operational effectiveness while at the same time improving customer service and delivering new customer offerings. The value I/T can bring to every business and organization is far too impactful to be relegated to the lowly expectations of simply showing up on time.

It is my firm belief that what you should expect from your technology vendors and deployment partners is a flow of ideas. I/T is our job. It is what we do for a living. It is what we know better than anyone in the world. It is our job to dream on your behalf and present our ideas and our supporting evidence of how our ideas will positively impact your business and your operations…not some generic business case pulled off a vendor website. I am not against the generic business case as a baseline for a discussion. However, if we are doing our job right, it is a short leap for us to take our ideas and customize them for your business, delivering original content and new ideas and let you decide if we are on the right track. I tell my sales team, in 25 years in this business, I have never had a client get upset with me for bringing them a new idea for their business – even if they did not implement our suggestions. New ideas that are founded in good business logic, supported by an understanding of our client’s business, and wrapped in our enthusiasm and passion is our business and IMHO is what our clients should expect from their technology partners. That should be the baseline expectation. Then the shootout between competing firms is who has the best ideas and the most impactful strategy. The expectation of clients in our industry ought to be much more about who “gets my business and has most creative strategy” instead of who showed up on time.

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