By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Private-sector corporate customers give their IT vendors low marks as strategic partners

Steve Kelman

IT vendors in the federal marketplace often express a wish for a greater strategic partnership with the government customers, and lament the features of the federal marketplace that make this more difficult.

The desire to get greater value from a more strategic, trusting relationship is a good one, and there are frustrating features of the government environment -- particularly the nature of media coverage and some of the "oversight" of the system -- that do make these relationships more difficult.

However, a recent survey among corporate CIOs, published in CIO magazine -- and titled "CIOs Give Vendors Low Marks" -- suggests that the problem may not just be the government environment and just government customers. Vendors also need to improve their game.

A CIO executive council that advises the magazine defined a strategic partner as an "important vendor that has gone beyond effective delivery of systems and service to become a consistency transparent, responsive and trusted collaborator." For the purposes of the survey, various vendor practices were weighted depending how important they were to CIOs. Interestingly, the most important practice defining a strategic partner for these CIOs was "joint ventures with shared risk and reward" -- sort of like share-in-savings in a government context.

The overall results weren't awful but weren't great. On the one hand, 46% of respondents perceived their major vendors to be strategic partners as defined above. That is almost certainly higher than a comparable figure would be among feds. But the average weighted score on the various specific elements of strategic partnership was only 3.2 on a scale of 1-10.

So vendors need to examine their own behavior as well. One CIO was quoted in the article as saying that "most vendors only interact with CIOs when they are trying to sell something or when there is a problem." Sound familiar?

Posted by Steve Kelman on Nov 30, 2012 at 12:09 PM


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