Businesses to tech suppliers: 'We don't trust you anymore'

Tech decision makers are running out of patience, according to research that says there is a "semi-dysfunctional relationship" between CIOs and their integrators and resellers.

Businesses don't trust their suppliers to make the correct decisions about which technologies to choose for projects, and feel stifled by their limited portfolio and failure to understand customers' needs.

According to research conducted by analyst house Ovum, there is a "semi-dysfunctional relationship" between the enterprise and their systems integrators and resellers, which don't have enough technology in their portfolios to satisfy businesses' current needs, "let alone future developments in areas like social media and BYOD".

The Integrate Britain report, commissioned by TalkTalk Business, surveyed CIOs and their procurement executives in 200 large public and private sector organisations across the UK on their relationship with suppliers.   

It found that "significant frustrations" exist because integrators and resellers fail to understand and act on customers' business needs, noting: "Although cost inevitably dominates the conversation, the concerns go much deeper and point towards an inherent mistrust towards the channel that is intensifying rather than dissipating."

Tech decision makers want more transparency from their suppliers and a say in the vendor selection process "suggesting that the era of cosy preferred supplier arrangements is over for vendors and resellers", it said. The report warned that integrators and resellers insist on sticking to "rigid product portfolios that starve clients of much needed innovation and value for money".

While CIOs want to use integrators because of their project management expertise and ability to bring in projects on time and to budget, half of CIOs also said they don't just want to know which vendors are working on a project, but want to be involved in the selection of them too. A mere four percent said they would let the integrator take control.

"This is undoubtedly a troubling trend and points towards a malfunctioning channel that is suffering from a defensive mentality and, therefore, a lack of perceived transparency," said the report.

Half of the CIOs said they would insist on particular technologies when faced with suppliers that lacked an understanding of their business, or who were not clear about pricing and delivery."This, of course, is why many clients are resorting to either predetermining their own preferred suppliers, or becoming actively involved in their partner's ecosystem selection. In short, it seems that they don't always trust the channel to do the right thing."

Most enterprise CIOs, 58 percent, said they are constrained by their supplier's technology choices. The report said this limitation is likely to be the result of long-term commitments to preferred vendor relationships based on exclusivity arrangements and favourable commercial terms.

But these long-term relationships could become a liability as CIOs are more involved with selecting vendors. "The preferred supplier model is on borrowed time," the report warned.

Two-thirds of respondents said they wanted more flexibility within existing product portfolios, while a similar proportion, 58 percent, also want their suppliers to prove they are choosing the right tech by providing evidence of benchmarking.

The report noted: "Enterprises have little appetite and patience for partners that provide standard or even sub-standard, off-the-shelf solutions."


Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of

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