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SI vs CIO: Expectation mismatch ?

Shantheri Mallaya | March 25, 2013
CIOs say SIs do not engage with them effectively. SIs beg to differ. Is there a huge expectation mismatch between the two?

There are other opinions, including that going purely by SLAs is not the solution. SLAs are a given, and the operational teams can execute these very well. The disconnect is possibly in delivering value-adds which customers expect from an system integrators' top management.

"There is a very different level of engagement that has to come from the top. A visit to the client every six months from the CEO of the SI or service provider organization would go a long way in showing their commitment. Why is it that they come running to the client only when they need business or when their targets are not being met?" asks Mehta.

A lack of preparation is another issue. According to CIOs, the amount of homework and ground work done by SIs is dismal. More often than not, clients become a training ground SIs, thus shooting up the costs of the project and also adversely affecting the quality of output.

The Forrester report points out that SI teams, including account managers and consultants, usually focus more on promoting products and services; they have very little knowledge of what CIOs and client organizations are looking for and don't care to learn. That's a view CIOs share. 

"The gap is largely due to SIs wanting to ride the hype curve without looking at the real business problems that CIO may be grappling with. This tends to alienate the SI from the CIO as the discussions are at different planes," says Arun Gupta, CIO at pharma giant Cipla.

The fault doesn't rest entirely with SIs, say some CIOs. "Vendors are also partly to blame. They must enable service providers and partners with training and leadership programs. That would really make the difference," says Mehta at JWT.

In his experience with technology vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and Autodesk, Mehta says that their levels of engagement vary in terms of dependence too.

Vijay Mohan, country manager, Miti Solutions agrees. "It is not that we, as SI partners, do not have the requisite skill sets. In fact we may possess the inclination as well as the bandwidth. But there are times when there is absolutely no assistance forthcoming from the vendors' for any new technology offering." Miti is a partner to security vendors like Symantec and McAfee.

Mohan laments the fact that he is compelled to down sell to customers (sometimes recommended by vendors themselves) in a given situation when he does not get the know-how on new concepts such as security information and event management (SIEM).

According to Mohan, there is very little online or offline support from any vendor to date for SIEM as far as APAC goes. He adds, "Ultimately, we are the face to the customer. If we are unable to suggest something or execute something, we may have to cut a sorry figure for no mistake of ours; that is inevitable."


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