Groundswell: what is the price of true partnership?

Speakers at a supplier-centric seminar I attended last month accused the IT industry of failing to justify its products and...

Speakers at a supplier-centric seminar I attended last month accused the IT industry of failing to justify its products and services on an economic basis.

They said this situation would continue unless IT suppliers became more attuned to the needs of business, ditched their jargon and worked in partnership with users.

That gloomy analysis contrasted with the sunnier atmosphere generated by this autumn's IT awards season.

The UK IT industry's premier event, the British Computer Society IT Excellence Awards, last month highlighted the quantity and quality of on-time, on-budget projects that boost profits, cut costs and improve customer service.

The winner of winners, the Royal Bank of Scotland's integration of NatWest's systems following the bank's acquisition last year, was a world-class achievement by all measures.

In another celebration of IT endeavour, nearly 3,000 small and medium-sized organisations entered the Interforum E-Business Awards, which recognised companies that had created business value or transformation through IT.

And last week IT excellence in local government was spotlighted at the Socitm awards.

All this attests to the existence of a vibrant user community. The common ingredients for success crop up time and time again. They include: getting top-level buy-in; having a clear business aim and vision; continuous integrated involvement between business and IT; rigorous testing and acceptance processes incorporating business-generated trade-offs; close attention to detail; and successful supplier management.

IT managers and IT directors in all sizes of organisation are becoming more business-aware. They also want to get closer to suppliers and work with them as partners.

By "partnership" users mean they want suppliers to take on part of the risk and put more of their own skin in the game. But how far are suppliers really prepared to go?

john.riley@rbi.co.uk

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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