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.

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Interested to read your view on small local specialists delivering niche expertise. It supports what we’ve thought for a while now at, specifically in the area of CRM.

Our experience proves that SMEs, especially, looking to invest in CRM are often bombarded by a host of larger suppliers claiming to provide a solution that will not only lower their costs but will also ‘meet all of their needs’ and help them ‘enhance customer relationships’. Actually we believe that the CRM industry should be turned on its head and restore SMEs faith in choosing suppliers by guaranteeing a return on their investment – or your money back. We call it Shared Success – and our team are tasked to innovate and deliver a specialist, tailored service to every one of our customers – not just the big ones. If they don’t, we won’t ask our customers to pay. Simple as that. We work with our customers to set clear goals and outcomes and use technology as an enabler to achieve business objectives – not a money saving scheme. Only once the project is a success should the customer have to pay the balance. This de-risks the purchase for the SME and puts the onus onto the CRM provider to deliver a successful project outcome.

John Cheney, CEO of