Forrester: the risk of using big suppliers

Among the sessions at Forrester’s CIO Forum Emea, was one that looked at sourcing, and in particular, the role of the big system integrators (SIs).

According to Forrester the major US, Indian and European SIs focus on helping clients lower the cost of IT. This may be fine if your job is to run IT services cheaply. But what happens when the SIs are asked to innovate?

All the experts looking at the role of IT, discuss the need to build new businesses empowered by IT. Forrester calls this “digital disruption” and it involves a recipe of mobile development, social media and IT consumerisation.

If your supplier is focussed on lowering cost, will you get the best developers in these areas from a major SI? It is highly unlikely. As Forrester points out, most large SIs are publically listed companies, and will save their very best people for their largest, most lucrative contracts. It is not a litmus test, but the speed with which a request for proposals is delivered, may indicate how seriously the SI sees the contract.

So where does that leave everyone else? 

For everyone else, the best third-party suppliers may, in fact, be small local specialists, who are able to deliver expertise in a narrow niche. But these niche players may be unknown and the due diligence process to assess their suitability and financial stability will be harder.