By Tony Velleca, Joint CIO and Vice-President (Services and Solutions)
The phrase “strategic partner” has become so familiar that I fear it’s lost its ability to convey its own importance. Every time two companies announce a partnership, they call it strategic.
But slapping the label on it doesn’t make it so.
Here’s why being truly strategic matters: the blistering pace of change in information technology is transforming the role of
the CIO. To survive, CIOs must become business strategists. To become business strategists, CIOs must be free to focus on business outcomes– not just IT outcomes – and they must have service providers that will partner with them in that endeavor.
This is the first of a four-part blog series that will dive a little deeper into some of the concepts discussed there.
A strategic partner is one who is genuinely concerned with the well-being of the partner, brings ideas and innovations to the client organization, and finds unique ways to create measurable business value.
To do that, an IT services partner must:
Deliver and inspire thought leadership,
Create business innovation (not just IT innovation), and
Tie the company’s own success to the client’s business outcomes.
Those are the topics we’ll examine in more detail in the following blogs.
But each of those elements is dependent upon one all-encompassing attribute: a strategic partner must be customer-centric, always focused on what’s best for the client.
There are two key elements of a “customer-centric” approach – intimacy and flexibility.
Client intimacy is revealed by how well the service provider knows the client’s organization and industry. It involves regular contact with people at all levels within the organization. It includes a free-flowing exchange of ideas between the two organizations.
Flexibility is the New Normal in strategic partnerships. A customer-centric partner will be flexible in terms of working with other providers, integrating different services to deliver best-of-breed solutions. As they take on the role of system aggregator, providers evolve into strategic partners.
But I want to hear from you. What are the attributes you value most in a partner? How do you identify them in a potential partner? How do you cultivate them in an existing partner? Let’s talk about how to build strategic partnerships.