Christopher Andrews serves Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals. See the full Analyst bio. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals successful every day.
Digital capability – social, mobile, cloud, data & analytics – disrupts business models, introduces new competitive threats, and places new demands on your business. Highlighting this fact: Forrester’s 2012 “Digital Readiness Assessment” survey found that 65% of global executives say they are “excited about the changes that digital tools and experiences will bring” to their company.
While most people know these digital trends are coming, however, far fewer know how to purchase these cutting-edge digital capabilities. What companies will you rely on? Where are the new risks? What are the pricing models? In the survey mentioned above, only 32% of the same sample agreed that their organization “has policies and business practices in place to adapt” to those digital changes.
This is important, since developing the breadth of digital capabilities your company needs cannot all be done in-house. To succeed, your company will need to access the strengths of its supplier ecosystem, maximize value from strategic partners, and leverage emerging supplier models.
This is a tremendous opportunity for sourcing and vendor management professionals to increase the strategic value they provide to their business. But to do this, you’ll need to balance your traditional cost-cutting goals with demands for business expectations for growth, innovation, and value.
Much has been made over the past few years about the “new” digital technology imperatives – social, mobile, analytics and cloud (collectively referred to as “SMAC”). Though the IT industry is flush with reports about SMAC, lumping these technology capabilities together is both helpful -- because they do represent a collective “what’s hot” in IT -- and misleading, because each technology has a different level of maturity, complexity, and business impact.
I often say that that sourcing professionals are “where the rubber hits the road” with new technologies. That is, the technology industry can hype a new technology all it wants. But until someone makes a strategic sourcing decision -- one that carefully examines costs, risks, and benefits of these offerings for enterprises, it’s mostly just hype.
And when you peel back the layers of the SMAC acronym, what you see are four unique solutions, each with different levels of complexity which are highlighted in the sourcing process:
I am just back from the whirlwind that is Nasscom India Leadership Forum 2013 in Mumbai, India. The Nasscom event is the premier event for the Indian IT services marketplace. Besides meeting great people, eating too much wonderful Indian food, and seeing action star and local legend AmitabhBachchan in-person, the event provides a chance to check the pulse of the most important geographic hub for the IT services marketplace.
I spent two days last week at an IBM Global Business Services (GBS) analyst event titled “Transforming the Front Office.” The event was designed for IBM to share its view of the future of the technology marketplace with industry analysts — and of course speak about how IBM fits into that role.
What’s clear is that IBM believes in the power of big data. Ok, so this may be obvious to the IBM watchers in the marketplace, but it’s interesting to see IBM bring to the table better marketing messages, case studies, and examples — all focused on how the GBS organization can apply that data to help clients stay competitive.
Throughout the two days with GBS, it was clear that this is more than just good marketing from IBM, it’s the core of its strategy. And that’s a fairly healthy place to be right now: Many firms tell Forrester that analytics is at the top of their list of emerging technology efforts. 58% of firms Forrester surveyed recently indicated that they’ve either implemented or are planning to implement, expand, or upgrade their BI tools over the next 12 months.
Services budgets represent 10% of annual IT operating and capital budgets[i], but Forrester sees considerable evidence that the influence of these IT Services vendors is proportionally higher — and growing dramatically. While there are several reasons for the rising importance of your services partners, at the most fundamental level Forrester sees that:
Business professionals need immediate access to tech-enabled innovation. Most strategic business initiatives now have an underlying technology component. Service providers come to the table with the tech savvy, vertical market expertise, and best practices to make these initiatives work.
IT professionals can’t keep pace with business demand. The volume and complexity of technology demands from business professionals means that traditional IT organizations have difficulty keeping pace. They too need to work with the best mix of IT service providers to meet the demands of their business. Effective supplier management is quickly becoming the most essential skill in IT organizations.
Year over year, Forrester hears from clients who are frustrated with their providers’ inability to provide innovation. In 2011, 60% of respondents to Forrester's Sourcing and Vendor Management Survey cited "Limited ability to define or provide innovation" as one of the top complaints when evaluating their suppliers. The frustrations behind these numbers include:
“I have to push my suppliers for every bit of innovation they provide outside of the contract.”
“Vendors consider 'innovation' anything that involves selling me more stuff.”
“They say it's innovation, but it’s not even specific to my business.”
Service providers, of course, are eager to market themselves as innovative. They’re competing in a market filled with scrappy upstarts — and they’re all striving to differentiate offerings. Yet they are also frustrated with innovation — the innovation demands of clients. The common complaints we hear from them include:
“It’s rare that clients can define what they want when they ask for innovation.”
“Our clients always tell us they want innovation. They are just not willing to pay for it.”
“We can’t provide innovation for clients if they won’t put us in touch with their business.”
This is a guest post from Kerry Bodine, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst serving Customer Experience Professionals. Kerry will deliver a keynote on the critical role Sourcing & Vendor Management Professionals play in customer experience at Forrester's Sourcing & Vendor Management Forum on Nov. 7-8 in Miami and Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in London.
Many customer experience initiatives don't meet their full potential — or worse, fail completely — because companies don’t have a complete picture of the dynamics that go into creating it. In order to break from their tunnel vision, companies need to understand their customer experience ecosystem: the complex set of relationships among a company’s employees, partners, and customers that determines the quality of all customer interactions.
In their quest to seek out the root causes of customer experience issues, companies often overlook the impact of sourcing and vendor management (SVM) professionals — often referred to as “procurement” by the rest of the organization. That’s too bad, because these decision-makers influence the customer experience in two key ways.
They influence which technologies and tools will be purchased. Some of these technologies are used internally. One example is: customer relationship management software, which enables employees across the organization to better understand customers and their ongoing relationships with the company. Other tools — like content management systems — directly affect the information that customers can access through digital touchpoints like the Web and mobile devices.
After two weeks at Forrester’s IT Forums (in Las Vegas and Barcelona) the Sourcing and Vendor Management research team came back more energized than ever. Why? We were able to spend a week interacting with our clients, who all face diverse challenges, yet remain very optimistic about the strategic value they can provide to their IT and business counterparts. While it's an exhausting week for all of our analysts, we love this week (second only to our own team's Sourcing and Vendor Management Forum in November) because of the chance to interact with all of you.
Coming back from this conference, I realized a few key themes had dominated my conversations with clients:
With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get creative about how you can scare the pants off of the people in your IT organization. I’ve been attending a fair amount of CIO events recently, and in the spirit of Halloween I put together a few costumes that I can guarantee will keep your CIO up at night.
A Storm Cloud. While “The Fog” might have scared your CIO in 1980, thirty years later it's the cloud that is scaring him. Despite all of the hype around "as-a-service technologies" over the past two years, Forrester has found 48% of IT decision makers still say they are “not interested” or “have no plans to adopt” software-as-a-service -- a number that rises for other cloud-based offerings. Why the lack of interest? Security, integration, and lack of customization top the list of key SaaS concerns. Yet, as the cost savings and purchasing flexibility benefits becomes increasingly obvious, IT professionals know they have to get comfortable with their fears to reap the cost-saving and flexibility benefits that cloud-based offerings provide. (Extra costume points: Grab a lunch tray and say you are a cloud-based “server”. A full 59% of IT decision-makers say they are not interested or have no plans to adopt infrastructure-as-a-service.)
Today, Forrester and Harvard Business Review Press released the print version of Empowered, a book by Forrester veterans Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler. This book is a quick and worthwhile read for just about anyone who wants to consider the changing role of technology in the workplace. After several reads of this book, I have found that in addition to a lot of great statistics, quotes, and case studies, there is a valuable message for how companies MUST change their philosophy and approach toward new technologies in order to stay innovative.
As a quick example of how quickly the technology landscape is changing, stop for a moment to consider just how many times in the past few days you have:
Received an invitation to LinkedIn.
Seen a personal acquaintance using Facebook.
“Tweeted” or heard someone comment on “tweeting.”
Checked your mobile phone — or seen a commercial for a cool new mobile app.