Leaner times change vendor performance

Corporate IT users are benefiting from a discernible lift in vendor performance fuelled by austere buying intentions and intensifying marketplace competition, according to the latest figures from InterData's IT customer satisfaction monitor the Corporate Report.

The fifth half-yearly survey of Australia's top 500 IT users (exclusive of IT&C vendors themselves) now shows overall user satisfaction with vendors has firmed to a point where none of the categories measured by the survey were in negative territory - but only just. Satisfaction is scored on a scale of five by users, with 5.0 being the least satisfied. Satisfaction breakpoint is determined at 2.5.

There was little movement in the best five user-rated vendors with NEC, AAPT, Sun Microsystems and IBM GSA all consolidating previous gains in satisfaction to claim the top spots with ratings between 1.71 and 2.02. Avaya and Compaq both recorded marginally negative satisfaction at 2.55 and 2.59 respectively, with Telstra ranked third lowest at 2.46 – but a solid improvement into positive territory, rising from 2.52.

Users ranked (in order of importance) the issues of end user support, commitment to relationship, added value in relationship, value for money and quality of general advice as the most important to them.

End-user support remained as the single most important area of vendor performance, and duly provided plenty of movement. Top ranking went to (in order) AAPT, Oracle, PeopleSoft, CSC and Unisys and Sun, with Oracle improving from 1.4 to 1.3 out of five. Users appear to have expressed particular annoyance over support with Microsoft and Compaq at 2.66 and 2.68 respectively.

Commitment to relationship was ranked as the next most important vendor performance issue by corporate users, with SAP stealing line honours (1.22) from AAPT (1.23) and Sun (1.30). Compaq predicably broke down (at 3.02) and others deemed as lacking customer commitment include Avaya, HP, Optus, Telstra, Siemens and ranged from 2.55 to 2.90. EDS (2.4 at number 17) and Microsoft (2.42 at 18) both redeemed themselves by entering positive territory in this category, while Sun jumped from 1.42 to 1.30 to collect dividend at third.

How much more a vendor can do for you, or 'Added Value in a Relationship' was the third most important user issue, with EDS, NEC, AAPT Sun and Advantra/TES grabbing top spots in that order. SAP and PeopleSoft came next best, although both posted marginal falls. Dell's low-cost model predicably placed it last at 3.12. Microsoft improved on what it does best at second last at 2.94, from 2.88.

AAPT took poll position in the value for money stakes on 1.43, while Dell made up lost value-adding in second on 1.66. Oracle showed most improved here on 2.80, up from 2.92 - but still got the wooden spoon. EDS and Microsoft both lost ground on value.

Quality of general advice saw old warhorses dominate with Unisys, NCR, IBM and NEC all in the top five, along with Computer Associates. Microsoft was punished, dropping from 2.46 to 2.55, indicating that while corporate users may not like the new licensing deal, they know they have to live it and make it work.

The InterData Canberra and Corporate Reports were recently acquired from East and Partners by the Axiom group for an undisclosed sum. The surveys are not seasonally adjusted and have now changed collection frequency from quarterly to twice yearly. The latest Corporate report cites a participation rate of 88 per cent of the top 500 ICT users in Australia with data obtained from CIOs, chief IT development officers and chief IT operations officers.

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More about AAPTAdvantraCA TechnologiesCompaqCSC AustraliaEast and PartnersEDS AustraliaGSA GroupIBM AustraliaIBM GSAInterdataMicrosoftNCR AustraliaNECOptusOraclePeopleSoftSAP AustraliaSiemensSun MicrosystemsTelstra CorporationUnisys Australia

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