CIOs say SIs do not engage with them effectively. SIs beg to differ. Is there a huge expectation mismatch between the two?
CIOs are an important community. The customer is sacrosanct. The engagement is paramount. Utopian? Yes. If you thought businesses and projects worked on these cardinal principles, then think again. When asked about how a business case for IT is presented to them by system integrators, one CIO said, "I wonder if many system integrators really know the meaning of the term."
That disconnect can take various forms, some of them more serious than others. A vendor spokesperson recently admitted in an interview that they had to segregate their partner and customer summits after a couple of unpleasant showdowns during joint sessions a few years ago.
It's a trend hasn't gone unnoticed among the analyst community. Forrester recently put out a report titled System Integrators are Failing to Meet the Expectations of Indian CIOs, which corroborates the growing concern in various CIO forums, blogs and media surveys that system integrators are taking customers for granted.
The report reads on a grim note. 'Indian CIOs now expect an increased level of business maturity from system integrators, but most SIs are not adjusting their people, offerings, or engagement models sufficiently in response.
"I can't share my business strategies with system integrators, because I have little faith in developing a long-term business partnership with them," said a CIO from a large healthcare firm.'
The CIO Mid Year Review 2012, conducted by CIO magazine (a sister publication to ChannelWorld) points out that for 24 percent of CIOs (of large and very large enterprises) one of the main obstacles they have to surmount in the path of organizational IT-business process integration was the availability of good system integrators.
There was also a perception that system integrators do not have sufficient know-how in emerging technologies such as big data and SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud computing).
Given the increasing need for partners and IT leaders to work together and the advent of global system integrators, one can't turn a Nelson's eye anymore to the growing reality of an expectation mismatch between CIOs and their SI partners.
Is it time for the SI fraternity to wake up?
Rules of Engagement
Sunil Mehta, SVP & area systems director-Central Asia at JWT, one of India's premier advertising and communications agencies, observes that the chasm is generally in the domain expertise. "Vendors or system integrators do possess skills, but their domain service does not match ours. Even if they eventually figure out the business of the customer, it is not more than a plug and play situation from their end," he says.
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