What does your company do, and what is your role there?
Park Place Technologies provides third-party hardware maintenance for our clients' distributed digital infrastructure.
We can provide support for a wide variety of equipment at a higher level of service and at better cost than an OEM can offer. I am the CIO for Park Place Technologies. In that role, I am responsible for all aspects of IT within the company, from infrastructure to application development. Our IT department not only supports our internal users and external customers, but also utilises our own maintenance services and continuously works to improve our capabilities.
What traits do you seek in your IT suppliers?
The primary trait I look for is a willingness to understand our business and tune their offerings to our needs. I am always impressed with any vendor that wants to come in and observe our operations to ensure that they can actually meet our needs. This is much more effective than sitting in a conference room, trying to understand our daily operations through a discussion. Once a vendor understands the business, other important traits naturally reveal themselves: flexibility to recognise our business model, honesty in identifying whether the supplier offering meets our needs, and a willingness to commit to measurable business results.
What are your main dos and don'ts for resellers and other IT suppliers when they are selling to you?
Do: Tune your presentations to what you know about my company, and ask questions in advance to ensure that you're hitting the mark.
Don't: Bring out your boilerplate presentation with the basic facts about your company.
Do: Manage my time wisely, scheduling things appropriately in advance.
Don't: Call and email me continuously to tell me that the end of the quarter/other deadline is approaching.
Do: Make our relationship valuable, bringing other partners and ideas to the table that aren't in your specific space but match my business needs.
Don't: View our work together as a single business transaction that ends when I get the invoice.
How can IT suppliers best influence you early in the sales cycle?
Early in the sales cycle, I'm usually working with my team and business partners to establish selection criteria and get a view on products that lead in their space and match our needs. There isn't much opportunity to interact yet, as I'm looking for unbiased sources of data such as industry research or independent reviews to identify shortlist-worthy companies. At this stage, it's most critical to make sure product information is complete and easily accessible on the supplier website.
Hiding content behind a registration that creates more unwanted emails is not the way to encourage me to look in-depth at the product.
Can you give us an example of a project where an IT supplier has really impressed you? What did they get right?
A few years ago, I was purchasing an application life cycle
management tool. We had been examining the market for years but had difficulty justifying the implementation business case and associated cost. After a couple of years of slotting it in our yearly budget then cutting it out, this project rose to the top and made it into our annual plan. One vendor in particular had tracked our need during our initial discussions. They simply made sure they checked in every few months and kept us updated on their new capabilities and road map, without constantly trying to drive our spend by offering "special" discounts.
By the time we were purchasing, we were comfortable with this supplier and selecting them was quick and easy. Upon selection, the vendor lined up implementation resources (and introduced them to us well before selection) that knew our business and were aligned with our goals. The implementation was basically pre-planned and easy to schedule on both sides, resulting in a quality implementation with little drama.
Do you generally prefer to procure as many IT goods and services as possible from a single supplier, or work with multiple specialists?
On the product side, I prefer to work with a single supplier for commodity IT supplies such as desktop software and end-user hardware. For business-specific software or high-end equipment, I will work with best-of-breed suppliers to source the need via an RFI or RFP. On the services side, it is rarer to find a single vendor that can satisfy every requirement we have. I frequently have little choice but to work with multiple services vendors to find the right skill set in sufficient quantity.