Satisfying the corporate end user is becoming increasingly difficult for suppliers, according to the latest quarterly Corporate Report conducted by analyst East and Partners, which found that Australian corporate users are placing increasing importance on service and relationships issues, thus reinforcing the importance of the channel's role.
The report was based on 452 respondents to a July 2002 survey of key user management personnel across the Top 500 corporates, as ranked by annual revenues. It was designed to measure industry-wide importance and performance of a number of relationship factors, using a 1-5 point scoring scale from user organisations that have current working experience with IT suppliers.
"One of the most important findings in the latest Corporate Report is that the level of corporate attachment to service and relationship issues is climbing quickly," said Paul Dowling, principal analyst at East and Partners. "Goal posts for suppliers are getting higher. This has been accompanied by a general improvement in vendor performance in these areas, albeit at a much slower rate. The gap between user expectation and supplier performance is growing, but they're heading in the same direction."
In other findings, corporate users continue to look for real added value and commitment in their supply relationships. The report states: "The traditional issues of vendors performing to contract and their implementation performance are increasingly a given' -- vendor capabilities in these areas are assumed and are no longer a big differentiator. Users are looking for other reasons to do business with a specific supplier. In particular, they are emphasising people strengths in acting as a true supply partner in delivering added value, account and relationship management, and being committed to their customers."
According to the report, the five most important relationship factors for Australian corporate users in their engagement of IT&T vendors are end-user support, commitment to relationships, account management, technical support, and added value in relationships.
In terms of the overall performance of suppliers, the report found the industry as a whole had generally improved since the last quarter.
Significant change was also apparent in comparison with last quarter in overall ratings for individual suppliers, with the good clearly continuing to get better and the bad falling relatively further behind. "The general theme was that the better-performing suppliers are getting even better and are moving away from the pack," Dowling said.
According to the study, the most rapidly improving suppliers in the eyes of their respective corporate customers are Unisys, NEC, Sun Microsystems, AAPT, IBM GSA and Optus, while the overall best-performing vendors in corporate Australia are NEC, AAPT, Unisys, Sun Microsystems and IBM GSA.