ARN Insight Series No 2 - Build better relationships: CIOs

ARN Insight Series No 2 - Build better relationships: CIOs

Channel gets guidance at What CIOs Want luncheon

IDG's Davy Adams

IDG's Davy Adams

What CIOs Want was the core topic of ARN’s second event in the Insight Series, which saw more than 90 ICT professionals learn how partners and CIOs can build stronger relationships – and focus less on vendor management - and adopt the hard to fulfil ‘shared risk’ approach.

The lunchtime seminar was kicked off by IDG managing director, Davy Adams, who divulged up-to-date research and insight into the needs and wants of the CIO as he presented top line results from the State of the CIO study.

CIO’s 13th annual State of the CIO survey was conducted with the objective of understanding how the role of the Australian CIO continues to evolve in today’s business climate and to help define the CIO agenda for 2014.

CIOs under pressure

Adams revealed how CIOs are under enormous pressure and acknowledge that the role is becoming increasingly more challenging.

As the evolution of technology has increased its impact across today’s organisations, the role of the CIO has had to change along with it. The CIOs' responsibilities have switched from managing cost centres to a stronger business orientation.

Adams said survey results reveal that the top 10 priorities of a CIO over the next 12 months include: complete major enterprise project; simplify IT; enable new plan for customer acquisition and retention; help reach specific goal for corporate revenue growth; reduce IT spending by a certain percentage; lead a product innovation effort; enable global expansion; upgrade IT and data security to avoid cyber-attack; lead merger integration or due diligence on a potential acquisition; and partner with the CMO or chief digital officer on major customer initiative.

In terms of partners and projects, the majority of CIOs agreed that the future CIO role will likely be focused primarily on managing contractors Cloud and other IT service providers.

“The majority agreed with that which is not surprising with the rise of the Cloud and through its use of the channel,” he said.

CIOs also agreed that IT projects developed without IT involvement are running into problems, and how shadow IT (which is IT purchased outside of partners) is on the rise across many organisations

Top 5 organisational initiatives

Meanwhile, the top five organisational initiatives included: acquiring and retaining customers; addressing rising customer expectations; growing overall company revenue; improving the capabilities of products and services; and lowering the firms overall operating costs.

Top 5 technology initiatives

Read more: Reducing IT complexity crucial for business success: Forrester

Adams said the top five technology initiatives included: improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes; identifying new ways IT can better support business/marketing; improving IT project delivery performance; developing new skills to better support emerging technologies and business innovation; and reorganising or retraining IT to better align with business outcomes and drive innovation.

“The top two results (improving the use of data and analytics to improve business decisions and outcomes; and identifying new ways IT can better support business/marketing) are very customer focused and it shows a really strong alignment between what the IT department is doing and what the organisation is doing. So if there’s any doubt that the IT department isn’t customer focused, you see here by the results that it is very much oriented towards those business objectives.”

Annoy list

Adams also revealed the things that annoy CIOs the most about a vendor’s approach. The top 5 on the ‘annoy list’ includes: unsolicited cold calls; lack of preparation or knowledge about the organisation; unsolicited email (spam); emails with no clear value proposition; and voicemails with no clear value proposition.

How can you ensure that your relationship with a CIO is the best that it can be? Adams said focus on three pillars: transparency, responsiveness and collaboration. “Making the organisation act as a seamless extension of your client’s own IT staff – these are the things that the channel has always done well and are at the heart of continued success.”

True partnership

Continuing on the theme of forging strong relationships, a panel of three leading CIOs - led in discussion by IDG general manager of the CIO executive council, Caroline Bucknell - talked about their top business challenges, IT’s evolving role and the shift in expectations of commercial arrangements.

The CIOs all agreed that forging strong relationships with channel partners should be a top priority. Treat it like a marriage and not a static relationship, but one that requires constant communication, compromise and mutual respect and understanding. It involves having open and honest discussions with each other, particularly when problems and issues arise. “It is cards on the table, open book, let’s discuss it; let’s see how we can fix it.”

Read more: VIDEO INTERVIEWS: ARN Insight Luncheon Series No 2

The panel concluded a true partnership is where both organisations have “skin in the game”. It is not just a product sale, but a discussion about business challenges and meeting organisational objectives.

Additionally, the panel concluded focus less on vendor management and more on building relationships.

Top tips to a strong CIO/partner relationship

  • Ensure constant and effective communication and discussion in order to build ongoing trust and respect.
  • Have ‘skin in the game’ and enable a ‘shared risk’ scenario.
  • Keep communicating when problems arise and have an escalation plan. Keep in constant discussion and accept constructive feedback.
  • Find ways to do things in the interest of the client. Understand the business challenges and deliver real business value.
  • Ensure optimum service delivery.
  • Understand relevance and know how to solve business issues and help with delivering the CIO’s priorities and objectives through the use of technology.
  • Look at CIOs as partners – and not just someone to sell product to.
  • Don’t think of a relationship as ‘vendor management,’ but rather relationship agreement. If you have to manage the relationship, then it is probably not strong and prone to breakdown.
  • Don’t go over the head of the CIO – and make contact with CXOs.

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