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Finding order amongst chaos

01 Jun 2007

Blades, green computing, SaaS, Grid, Web 2.0 and social networks are just some of the disruptive technologies driving innovation and opportunity in the market according to IDC analysts.Presenting at the annual IDC Directions conference last month, analysts presented the NZ ICT community with ways they could make the most out of the current era of hyper-disruption.  Bob Welch, IDC group vice president, highlighted the opportunity to help CIOs manage the onslaught of new technologies across the enterprise.“Suppliers offering managed services or project outsourcing – backed up by a proven business model – can help solve some of the huge challenges CIOs face. In turn, suppliers have to move to a platform where they can do things for their customers – rather than show them how to do it,” he says.Welch warns suppliers that partnerships are the key to success and says customers no longer buy point solutions.“These days it’s about the big picture and the challenge for suppliers is to sell to the whole company, rather than just the CIO.”An IDC survey of CIOs and senior IT managers across ANZ sheds some light on the good and bad points of supplier relationships. Doug Casement, IT managers programmer manager, observes that good client-vendor relationships are much like fishing stories in the pub – there’s usually a lot more talk than action. “Smart CIOs want smart, honest partners. They know it’s a two-way street and are happy for you to make money because, if you’re a genuine partner, you’ll be adding value,” he says.While perfection isn’t mandatory, says Casement, an honest attempt is.“People deal with people they like and trust. It’s not complicated which is why it often gets overlooked. If there are problems with delivery then be honest about it, because if someone is reaching for the contract the relationship is already in trouble.”Understanding your existing or potential customer’s business is paramount and Casement strongly recommends suppliers research their customers and industries. “Focus on the business, not the technology, and talk in their terms. An extra research bonus can be bright ideas or insights you can take to the customer.”On a different track Graeme Muller, IDC country manager, says the 2007 NZ Mindshare – the top ranked ICT companies - results show the rising value of the niche player. Successful IT players, says Muller, convey a clear message to the market about what they do and those who position themselves as niche players can reap rewards.“Axon, for example, punches well above its weight due to a period of strategic marketing while the market perceives Infinity as a strong niche player in storage.”However Jenna Griffin, services market analyst, has a controversial vision of the future that has already ruffled a few industry feathers. Although pure speculation, Griffin theorises that changing business rules and the potential entrance of overseas players could dramatically change the landscape in the near future. Therefore, suggests Griffin, future success depends upon a company’s ability to adjust to change. “Consider your place within the market and build a roadmap to where you want to be. Engage in short-term strategies such as expanding into markets with low entry barriers. Consider your competition, not only as they are now, but who they will be in five years,” she advises. According to IDC research around 70% of the market would prefer to use the same provider for both IT and telco services. “The relationship model has certainly changed, as has the service management model. As we move forward consortium-led bids will carry the most weight.”Griffin points to the success of EDS’ Agility Alliance although she concedes this model presents its own challenges for potential players. “What infrastructure do you need to support a consortium, what impact does this have on the go-to-market strategy, which providers do you look to partner with and how do you rationalise your solutions portfolio?”