Free junkets, gifts, trips to big sporting events and free gifts are all still tools of the trade used by tech suppliers to try and get business out of CIOs and IT buyers – or ‘building relationships’ as it’s more commonly known.

One blogging CIO in the US has highlighted some of the more inappropriate offers IT chiefs get in this post here.

And three-quarters of’s 12-strong CIO Jury IT user panel said they still get offered various gifts, perks, junkets and jollies by suppliers hoping to get a foot in the door.

The important thing for IT chiefs is to not compromise their own integrity or put themselves in the position were they could be accused of having taken a ‘bung’.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, European CIO for Sodexo, said: “The best test is – would you be embarrassed if your boss found out? Gifts and perks should always be refused but conferences can be useful in establishing good relationships with suppliers and peers.”

Tony Johnson, IT director, Zavvi Entertainment Group, agreed, saying: “I am not naive enough to think the invites to rugby/cricket/football etc are purely down to my sparkling company! In all such situations it is important to ensure that your personal and professional integrity remains beyond question, particularly if the supplier in question is one currently engaged in an active negotiation.”

But Johnson added that the IT industry isn’t different from any other in this practice and that, judging by the offers received by his colleagues in other functions, IT seems to be more principled than most.

One CIO, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “There is some activity from wannabe suppliers trying to lure you in but not enough time spent with existing suppliers who should be working to retain business. And by the way, one supplier once tried sending me an iPod for Christmas – I sent it back as its value was obviously way up on the ‘unethical’ scale.”

Venn Luscombe-Mahoney, head of IT at online retailer White Stuff, said free gifts and junkets are still especially prevalent in the retail arena.

But Mike Roberts, IT director at Harley Street private hospital The London Clinic, simply said of IT suppliers: “I’d prefer them to offer a decent level of service.”

Today’s CIO Jury was…

  • Ian Auger, IT director, ITN
  • Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
  • Nic Bellenberg, IT director, Hachette Filipacchi UK
  • Chris Broad, head of IT, UK Atomic Energy Authority
  • Kevin Fitzpatrick, European CIO, Sodexo
  • Steve Gediking, head of IT and facilities, Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • Tony Johnson, IT director, Zavvi Entertainment Group
  • John Keeling, director of computer services, John Lewis
  • Christopher Linfoot, IT director, LDV Group
  • Venn Luscombe-Mahoney, head of IT, White Stuff
  • Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
  • Richard Storey, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Want to be part of’s CIO Jury and have your say on the hot issues for IT departments? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and you want to be part of’s CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at