As organizations grow more aware of the upside of technology, senior IT pros are being invited to the executive table more frequently than ever before.
Companies have recognized that information is their business, and that information technology is the mechanism that enables that business to function. Business intelligence systems to track supply and demand, enterprise software to meet the needs of customers and the supply chain, security and data infrastructures to keep intellectual property intact and protected … On a global scale, these functions and more add up to trillions of dollars earned or lost.
The bottom line: An organization’s technology stack of human capital — from the CTO and CIO on down — is participating in strategic decisions on an equal footing with finance, sales and marketing, product development, and the rest of the traditional business stakeholders.
So how can you become the trusted partner who prepares your tech buyers for those executive meetings?
Here’s how Dustin Sneath, Superintendent of IT for the Elk Grove (Illinois) Park District, describes the qualities that inspire loyalty toward vendors and help new contenders win business.
Sneath said his organization maintains longstanding relationships with three or four VARs, each expert in a segment such as networking. “They do overlap somewhat, which allows me to bounce numbers between them and get the best possible price, but we generally rely on one VAR for each type of work.
“When we do approach other vendors or new VARs, I usually have to go in with cost at top of mind,” Sneath said, “but the next thing I’m looking for is some signal that they want a long-term business relationship, not just a quick sale with a support agreement. Government I.T. doesn’t have the agility that business I.T. does, so we rely a lot on momentum.
“If I can get a small project rolling with a vendor this year, I can convince the board to let me get a bigger one going next year, and a bigger one the next, and on and on. Making jumps from one vendor to another … leads to a chaotic budget process and costs us more money in the end.”
For tech buyers like Sneath, “business continuity” is more than a technology phrase; it also refers to the opportunity costs of switching vendors.
Once you’ve won their loyalty by helping them address even a narrowly defined strategic business challenge for their stakeholders, they’ll be far likelier to consider you the smart money for future engagements.