Hichem Ben Marzoug, global head of IT at car club platform Getaround, reveals the traits he loves and loathes in tech suppliers
What does your company do, and what is your role there?
I'm the global head of IT at Getaround. As a company, we're a car club platform allowing people to instantly book and drive connected cars in more than 300 cities worldwide. Our mission is to provide a reliable alternative to car ownership, to reduce the number of cars on the road and improve life in cities.
In my role, I manage IT systems and hardware for the company, which has around 400 people worldwide. We're a very small IT team of only two people.
What traits do you seek in your IT suppliers?
Convenience. We're not a traditional company. More often, we're reacting to things coming to us. Like many of my peers, I need suppliers who are more than just websites. I'm looking for partners and those who offer a dedicated account manager. As a global IT manager, I need suppliers and partners who understand the reactive and agile nature of scale-ups, who can keep up with our fast-growing environment and pace.
What are your main dos and don'ts for resellers and other IT suppliers when they are selling to you?
Do keep in touch on a regular basis. As a business, we're looking to be taken care of, but within reason and with common sense. Reminders are also fine. IT teams are often small and exceptionally busy so please be considerate.
Do keep track of our business and needs. We appreciate proactivity - being aware of what we're doing and offering relevant support. So if there's something about us in the news, like when Drivy was acquired by Getaround, and a service provider thinks they can help, we want to hear about it.
Do put us in touch with other people. Service providers have an array of clients, partners and contacts who either have similar challenges to us or who can help. A service provider can become a favoured one when they do things to help regardless of whether or not they get business from it. For example, if we're launching in a new country, perhaps a service provider might put us in touch with a partner that they know.
We want regular support but don't spam or harass your clients and prospective clients. Reminders are fine, but be reasonable. Don't email me every day, but you could follow up maybe in a week or a month.
How can IT suppliers best influence you early in the sales cycle?
If I show interest in your service or products, offer to come and demonstrate it in real life. What will really make me want to commit is seeing and experiencing the impact on our processes and our teams. Invest the time and resources of your sales team into in-person workshops and events rather than webinars and online videos.
Can you give us an example of a project where an IT supplier has really impressed you? What did they get right?
BetterCloud. It's a SaaS management platform that helps me manage our whole company's SaaS environment from one admin console.
The project: The Getaround integration workshop
During the BetterCloud Altitude conference held in San Francisco, I was put in contact with people from several industries dealing with the same challenges. Together we brainstormed and exchanged how to deal with migration challenges in an M&A context
I was impressed because: 1) I felt taken care of, I only had to attend and start discussing with my peers. 2) They did the event management, the organisation, the introductions, it all ran smoothly 3) I learned a lot through shared experiences and was left with interesting ideas/potential solutions of how to tackle my upcoming challenges 4) They put people in touch based on shared challenges - I didn't have to find anyone, they did it for me.
What they got right?
They knew their customers, they knew me. Not just my name and job title, but my business, my challenges, my circumstances, my needs and who I needed to speak to. I'm not just a "client ID" to them, BetterCloud clearly see and treat me as an actual person. I feel like a partner.
Do email spam or cold calls ever work?
It depends on how it's done. If they have clearly researched our company, my role, our business activities and latest news that could be affecting IT, I will pay attention.
I look at recommendations my peers and contacts share with me directly or in IT communities, as well as people who find me on LinkedIn.
Do you generally prefer to procure as many IT goods and services as possible from a single supplier, or work with multiple specialists?
For software, we usually prefer to take the best-of-breed applications, so usually we find ourselves tied to several software providers.
Regarding IT hardware, we take the most convenient. For example, I may opt for websites like Amazon if we're in particular need of an expedited delivery; if not, I'll just go for the regular partners like Apple since we are business customers.
However, when it comes to services (ie network management), I prefer to have less service providers and instead just stick to specialist ones, as they will know their industry area very well. Often, specialist services can both install and manage what we need and this will also mean they really get to know us and our set-up, ultimately serving us much better.
How much of your time is spent helping business leaders drive business outcomes, versus running the IT department?
None. I just run the IT department as we're a small team.
Do MDs see you as part of their digital journey, or are you still just viewed as a massive cost that everyone wants to bring down?
We're definitely seen as part of their digital journey. Not necessarily on the technical side but certainly for our impact on productivity and collaboration. Our senior business leaders support our IT policies, guidelines and processes.
They trust recommendations from the IT team for anything that is related to the right choices for software and equipment that the business requires. We may not work together with our senior team on a daily basis, but communication between us is certainly regular and frequent. The need for a good, reliable working environment is clearly recognised. So while we can sometimes be a large cost centre, they trust me to get the best services and equipment that will allow them to do their jobs safely and reliably - without worry or concern.
Hichem Ben Marzoug is global head of IT at Getaround