Today’s CIO is no longer just refining the technology capabilities of an organization. The role today is much stronger, strategic and is crucial from a business transformation perspective. To help CIOs realize their bigger and more strategic goals, it’s important to re-look at the relationship they have with System Integrators (SIs). For the SIs too, their role can no longer be just limited to providers of technical services like hardware, software, installation and support, but, now they need to act as consultants who recommend the best integrated fit to meet business objectives.
From my experience and various discussions with clients, I feel that the key expectations from the SI can be summarized into these 5 key points:-
- Deeper understanding of the clients business, industry and business issues: According to a recent report by Forrester, only 28% of CIOs think that their SIs understand their changing business requirements. SIs need to do a whole lot more of homework and groundwork to fully appreciate the challenges and recommend technology solutions.
- Transcend beyond up-selling and cross-selling: Typically, SIs suffer from technology tunnel vision and tend to push products to clients, usually to meet their own sales targets. It’s important that SIs focus on collaborative problem solving through technology and appreciate the CIOs business challenges.
- Transition from transactional to transformative: Since SIs are so much closer to a client’s business and have an intimate understanding of their business processes, the expectation is to drive innovation at a grassroots level.
- Defining business value to technology solutions: CIOs today are more interested in the business impact that a technological change will result in. SIs must speak that language too and not just focus on technical merits and delivery deadlines.
- Align pricing models to business goals: As the CIO’s role continues to become more strategic; older, resource based pricing models are no longer relevant. Outcome based, transaction based and other hybrid pricing models are the order of the day.
I would also recommend that on the operational side, SIs need to take steps to ensure that they don’t falter on meeting the modern CIO’s expectations. They can do this by:-
- Leveraging RFP’s, RFQ’s and Need Analysis Questionnaires etc. to get a full understanding of client’s business.
- Investing in dedicated account management and prioritizing accounts based on business maturity.
- Assist CIOs in securing internal funding and support by making a strong business case
- Align SLAs to business outcomes and not just technology milestones
- Including a knowledge transfer phase in the project to fully on-board client’s ground staff.
- Measuring outcomes to refine engagement approach and delivery model
What are your expectations from System Integrators today? And if you are an SI, what steps are you taking to meet the modern CIOs expectations?