As the global downturn began to bite last year, vendors scrambled to tout the ability of their products and services to save costs and boost productivity, as budgets and workforces were cut.
It is important for resellers to know that companies’ need for technology to influence business performance and productivity, is showing no sign of decreasing in the post-recessionary era. However, the emphasis has shifted from merely saving money to genuinely improving processes and being innovative to gain advantage over competitors.
This was evident in Gartner’s recently released CIO Agenda study for 2010 that was titled “Leading in Times of Transition”.
Among Australasian CIOs, innovation, or creating new products and services, rose to the third highest rank in the study’s top-10 list of business and technology priorities. The first two spots were taken by improving business processes and cutting enterprise costs.
How can resellers respond to these market priorities and facilitate competitive advantage and innovation for user companies, in conjunction with vendors?
The fourth and fifth priorities on the study’s list give further insight.
The use of business analytics ranked fourth, and retaining and maximising business with existing customers ranked fifth.
Analytics has become increasingly relied upon, after companies realised last year how crucial it was to maintain their core customer bases.
In fact, obtaining customer bases to break into new markets was the objective of many an acquisition by companies at home and abroad last year, as market consolidation gathered apace.
To retain their own customers, it’s important for partner companies to model their own experiences to cement the trusted advisor relationship.
Can customers relate to the growth path your firm has taken, or to how your company is structured to achieve the most with a small number of staff? Are you using the technology you offer in your own workplace and what training was required when it was implemented? Can you explain to customers how you’ve overcome the challenges of being a small business, or of being a large enterprise?
People with a high level of expertise are becoming more of an asset to companies as workforces are becoming more mobile, decreasing the importance of bricks and mortar. Consultancy has taken on greater relevance as innovation becomes more about incremental improvements in technology and process, rather than about the latest and greatest gadget.
Once key people have been recruited and retained, collaborative technologies are paramount when it comes to innovation, because of their ability to spark ideas amongst your talent. This is particularly true when projects are initially scoped – a time when ideas above and beyond the customer’s initial brief can be found.
Such technologies centre around unified communications, namely videoconferencing, telepresence, and remote working.
The top-10 technology priorities revealed in the survey will come as no surprise to resellers - the list from highest to lowest was: Virtualisation; networking; data storage, mobility; cloud; Web 2.0; business intelligence; e-commerce, enterprise applications; and IT management.
At the most basic level, your company should be scratching where it itches in terms of customer demand for particular technology areas. But it should also ensure there is sufficient expertise and support available to customers who are deploying these systems and applications, and how they can help a customer to innovate and grow.