Vendors still lack business alignment

IT vendors need to take more time listen and understand the businesses they serve if they want to keep their promise of becoming an ally to enterprises, Australian IT managers say.

Despite repeated froth and bubble about IT-business alignment, vendors still have a long way to go.

Johan Reyneke, IT manager at banking and financial services firm IMB, claims it remains very difficult to find a vendor he's happy with, especially in the short term.

"In the long term, I guess those vendors that are willing to amend contracts over time make things much easier," Reyneke said.

"But for a vendor to be an ally to my business, they must understand, and want to understand my business, not simply on a superficial level."

As for the flux of consolidation taking place between vendors, Reyneke believes price hikes are inevitable - although he doubts service levels will decrease further.

"If you have appropriate service level agreements in place with your vendors then you really shouldn't have any problems, and having those sorts of agreements is just good sense," Reyneke said.

However, Pasminco general manager of IT and business systems, Peter Dean is less positive about service, saying consolidation has the potential to mean decreased levels of service quality.

"Consolidation often results in centralized services, but I suppose it means you just have to work closer with your vendors," Dean said.

Dean has a more positive outlook towards IT vendors, having just been through contract renegotiations with minimal drama.

"We've just renegotiated with our key vendors, and had a look at additional services, and our vendors have worked well with us during this process," Dean said.

"The real key with vendors is the relationship you establish with them. If you treat your IT vendor like an adversary, then you're not going to get along with them."

An IT manager for an Adelaide based retailer, who requested anonymity, said IT vendors had lost some of their arrogance.

"Vendors have realized that their products are not the greatest in the world and can be competed against, so they're now trying to meet demands and improve customer service," the IT manager said, adding consolidation brought with it increased service levels to those not based in Sydney or Melbourne.

"It's hard to find IT vendors that have large offices in Adelaide. Often consolidation means companies get a bigger presence [leading] to more people on the ground and better service levels for companies like ours," he said.

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