CIOs keep their supplier partners close

The old supplier and buyer relationship between CIOs and vendors has made way for a closer working dynamic

The saying "one throat to choke" is a perfect example of the charged nature of the relationship between enterprise technology and IT suppliers. Born in an era when the divide between the buying consumer and the supplier was as distinct as the church and state, the saying's red-faced anger is now outdated. CIOs and technology providers are often working closely in relationships that are richer and deeper than merely the buyer and the seller.

The new partnership is born out of necessity. Today's CIO and their team are at the forefront of transforming the way an organisation operates as well as the products and services it delivers to the customer. As IDG Connect reported, recruitment firm Harvey Nash and big four consultancy KPMG found in its 2019 survey of the CIO community, 44% are leading a digital transformation. The IT supplier sector is also transforming with the rapid pace of change, driven by cloud computing adoption, enabling new challenger vendors to enter every area of the IT supply chain. A close relationship with CIOs enables suppliers to not only continue to add value, but also gain a valuable insight into what the customer truly needs.  

"I need my partners to understand where I am going, so we now talk about initiatives rather than projects," Nick Giannakakis a CTO from the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector says. "Best practice is a commodity, what we need is solutions that have a good commercial visibility."

Strong relationships between CIOs and their suppliers begin early in the relationship. Having selected a technology service provider, CIO's need a successful implementation and widespread adoption across the business. A key to this success is training and support with technology and business process adoption. 

"We participated in some great boot camps where OutSystems helped us with the architecture and planning of how to deliver the App. We've also had a lot of training and there's a good support network," Ashley Doody, CIO of workplace benefits provider Personal Group says of the relationship his business has with global low code technology provider OutSystems. 

Personal Group developed a range of new online services in house as part of a new strategy, previously the UK based business relied on white labelled platforms and felt it had little control over the experience for the user.

"If we hadn't built our own platform and taken control of our destiny, I think there's a fairly high chance that our customers would have walked away from us. Our business wouldn't be as successful as it is today," CIO Doody says. Personal Group is a typical example of how CIOs and suppliers work closely together to ensure business success. In retail Richard Corbridge, Chief Innovation Officer of Boots, part of the global Walgreens Boots Alliance pharmacy giant is working closely with Microsoft to ensure the retail business successfully adopts the Microsoft cloud technology tools. As Chief Innovation Officer Corbridge does not hold daily responsibility for technology in the retailer, but as a former Chief Information Officer knows the benefits of strong mutually beneficial relationships. As CIO for the Health Service Executive, the national health provider for the Republic of Ireland Corbridge developed relationships, hubs and networks between health providers, professionals and technology companies, both local startups and the major global providers.

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