User groups unite to help IT suppliers improve services

UK's most powerful IT users form new lobby group

Ten of the UK's most powerful IT user groups will next month launch an organisation aimed at improving the relationship between IT users and suppliers.

The Strategic Supplier Relationship Group (SSRG) aims to provide a frank, confidential and constructive environment for user groups and suppliers to discuss issues such as licensing policies and product quality.

By building better customer/ supplier relationships the group aims to nip potential problems in the bud and help suppliers recognise the needs of users who are battling to maximise business value through the more effective use of IT.

Ray Titcombe, chairman of both the SSRG and the IBM Computer Users Association, said, "Over the years the IT industry and technology have grown in maturity but what has been left behind is the supplier/customer relationship.

"The need for a conduit between suppliers and the user community is proven in part by the number of suppliers making unrealistic changes to terms and conditions, only to find out that their decisions have been fraught with problems for users.

"The SSRG will give supplier companies a sounding board in which to confide changes in terms and conditions and how they may be received.

"From the customer perspective, the goal is to build a relationship that adds value to services and purchases made."

The group has been welcomed by leading suppliers, including IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Sun.

John Higgins, director general at suppliers organisation Intellect, said, "Intellect welcomes the launch of the Strategic Supplier Relationship Group. The cultivation of a modern relationship between suppliers and users based on openness and trust will be a vital component in the drive to foster the creation of a dynamic and innovative UK economy."

Margaret Smith, chief executive of CIO-Connect, a user group that is not among the SSRG launch members, said, "CIO-Connect and its members are already trying to positively influence suppliers. However, a greater body of people with a diverse range of interests handling this relationship can only be a step in the right direction."

It has taken four years of negotiation and discussion to create the SSRG. The catalyst was a roundtable meeting of 15 user groups set up in April 2001 by Computer Weekly to explore ways in which groups could collaborate more effectively.

Computer Weekly editor Hooman Bassirian said, "Global issues such as licensing, open standards and software quality increasingly affect all user organisations. Computer Weekly believes it is important that users speak with one voice. We are proud of our role over several years in helping develop this new organisation, which represents users' best hope of a meaningful collective dialogue with suppliers. We hope to play a central role in facilitating that dialogue."

The official launch date for the SSRG is 20 April.

Founder members of the SSRG  

  • The Corporate IT Forum (Tif) 
  • IBM Computer Users Association 
  • UK Oracle User Group 
  • British Computer Society Elite Group 
  • Institute for the Management of Information Systems 
  • The Society for IT Management (Socitm) 
  • Charities Consortium IT Directors Group 
  • Charity IT Resources Alliance  
  • Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 
  • Computer Weekly 500 Club

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