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7 August 2007

The win-win-win scenario

By Andrew Clifford

IT has a rich ecosystem of service providers. They are critical to bringing new products to market.

If you developed a product that really helped the management of large-scale corporate IT, and that reduced the need for expensive consultants, who would you try selling it to?

The obvious answer is IT managers in large organisations because they gain benefit from the product. You would not think of service providers because they do not directly gain benefit and could even lose business.

We tried just that with system governance. But the feedback we got back was "Good idea, not my priority right now." IT managers have to focus on the short term pressures of project and service delivery.

We tried again, stressing how our methods also help in the short term. People still thought it was a good idea, but they are so focussed on their current work that they scarcely have time to stop and think of something broader.

We thought long and hard, and turned our marketing on its head. We decided to refocus our marketing effort on the businesses that provide IT services into large companies.

Some of our motivation was simply practical. Working with service providers gives us more contacts and a larger sales force. Service providers let us deliver into many more businesses. Working with service providers lets us concentrate on what we do best: the core methods, tools and materials, and promoting system governance. For the service providers, it provides opportunities for new business and a new competitive differentiator.

As well as being tactically convenient, working with service providers makes sense to the end customers, the IT managers in large organisations. They like to work with existing providers. They look to service providers for new ideas and added value. They want the control, quality assurance and cost effectiveness that system governance provides, and having it bundled with other services makes it easy for them to adopt. Here are some examples of added value bundling that we have been discussing:

  • Outsourcing providers can provide a quality control framework for outsourced systems.
  • Business process transformation specialists can reduce problems with existing systems, and provide a framework for identifying and renovating systems that need to be enabled to work with new processes.
  • Audit specialists can extend their offer from controls and security to a broader assessment of IT best practice.
  • IT strategy consultants can include estimates of return for preventative maintenance, as well as the business case for new projects.
  • Hardware and system software providers can contribute to the proactive management of IT, and become more than commodity suppliers.
  • Project management specialists can manage long-term solution risks as well as short-term project delivery risks.

Our change of direction has been very successful. We have generated so much interest from the first few companies we talked to that we have had to slow down our marketing efforts.

In hindsight, we now realise that we were initially too dismissive of service providers. Working with and through providers gives our target customers easier ways to gain the benefits of system governance, as well as making good business sense to us and the providers. Working with service providers is a win-win-win scenario.

Next: Portable applications - interim report

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