CIO as a broker is sales challenge to vendors
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CIO as a broker is sales challenge to vendors

The evidence is in. CIOs and their departments are influencers and therefore just one component in the selection and acquisition of enterprise technology. Results from the 2019 annual CIO Survey by Harvey Nash and KPMG are therefore challenging to many, not all, in the technology vendor community. 

Technology vendors are cemented into outdated and unachievable sales methodologies that will fail to achieve results. The reason being, these methodologies bear no resemblance to the move by the CIO and IT to being influential. 

Much of the Harvey Nash CIO Survey confirmed my own thinking and experience.  Over the last 11 years it has become clear that CIOs and IT will have to move away from command and control and towards a shoulder-to-shoulder partnership. The majority of the CIOs that I work with are more than sanguin about this situation, they welcome and have adopted the move to influence. Freed from the shackles of being the operator, CIOs and IT team members are able to truly embed themselves within the organisation and discover what really matters to end users and customers. As a result (and in combination with the latest cloud and development tools) technologists are able to listen, learn, experiment and deliver solutions to small, but ever so irritating pain points in procurement, financial management, product delivery, supply chain and customer service, to name just a few from recent interviews.

Influence is won in the hard battle of the relationship; and strong relationships require authenticity. No successful CIO or IT team can judge a member of the organisation and their challenges. All challenges, initially, have to be treated as equal. There is of course a requirement for the organisation to categorise and prioritise pain points and their solutions. Those that impact revenue quickly rise to the top of the to do list. But often a truly embedded IT team can create quick fixes, or use a Friday afternoon to create a creative solution to pain points that are lower down the priority list. It is this collaborative focus that creates authenticity and a strong empathy and relationship between technology and the business. 

Sadly, too few technology service providers approach relationships with the same level of authenticity. I say too few, because there are some very exciting and respected organisations that will work with a FTSE giant and a cash starved charity side by side with the same care and attention to every project.  Many in the technology service provider community though still judge a CIO by the number of servers or locations their technology touches. This outdated view ignores economic reality, technology is shrinking the physical footprint of many industries. It also ignores the findings of the 2019 CIO survey, which demonstrates that IT decision making is a collaborative process. A wide variety of line managers and influencers will be involved in each and every technology procurement decision. With that being the case, technology service providers need to learn from the CIO community and develop all the skills and methods of becoming influential.

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Mark Chillingworth

Mark Chillingworth is a CIO and CTO journalist, ghost writer, moderator and advisor with over 11 years experience. From 2010 to 2016 he was Editor in Chief of the award-winning CIO UK. In 2011 he created the CIO 100, an annual transformation power list of the UK’s most influential CIOs and launched the UK’s first CIO Podcast in 2016.

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