Lorrin White argues that the notion of “No-one ever got fired for choosing IBM” is dead, and more and more people are choosing to focus on the long-term quality of the offering, not the brand. But there’s still a long way to go.
Comms and infrastructure contracts are generally renewed and negotiated somewhere between every two and five years, depending on whether your long-term business plan is to implement reliable working solutions, address digital transformation and implement bimodal strategies or to simply find year-on-year cost savings.
Regardless of which, you know the date is looming as your Senior Team start making noises about it – they’ve been courted by a number of heavy-hitting brands in the previous nine months, have a contact here and an old friend there, prefer to do reciprocal business and most importantly reckon they can help you find the best deal possible and assist in your infrastructure decision making. Lest we forget that everyone with five plus years of business experience suddenly becomes an ICT expert and has their opinion on which companies deliver best practice – and which don’t.
As the influencers muscle in with their own views of what’s important, the role of the sole IT decision maker becomes lost in the mire of corporate hospitality offerings, subsidised MS365 installs, the promise of the latest top of the range mobile handsets free-of-charge, for the duration of the contract, or the free installation of business-grade broadband for the principals that live in the middle of nowhere.
But what do these extras actually do for your business?
- promote that your business can work with all levels of supply chain excellence?
- demonstrate your openness to new market entrants?
- show your agility?
- display your willingness to help other businesses grow?
- illustrate a flexibility your competitors don’t have?
Or, do they simply express a desire to be like everyone else and help confirm that only big brands can be ‘best in show’?
How many times have the needs of your comms contracts slid sideways during negotiations because the brand of your preferred option simply wasn’t well known enough by those that count?
How many times have you wanted to opt for an agile, established and respected provider but been forced down the procurement route of having at least two big brands in the running because ‘no-one ever got fired for choosing IBM’?
How many times have you regretted a tender process decision that was based on ‘points’ and not purpose or added value?
And, most importantly, what makes choosing an independent provider so difficult when the benefits are vast, especially when they have all the same direct network access? To name just a few:
- A unified experience: Quite simply, one bill and one point of contact for all forms of connectivity (mobile, fixed, voice, data, M2M etc.)
- Impartiality: An independent provider (like Bamboo for example) can offer service provision connectivity across many of the major brands, so you can be assured that the recommended contract is based on your requirements and not simply because it’s the network that the provider happens to use.
- Best-of-breed solutions: By offering connectivity from more than one network, a service provider can build a package that delivers the best performance possible. They can even provide services from multiple carriers on the same contract, letting you choose the most appropriate carrier for each user based on their location, data requirements etc. And on mobile, with a dual-SIM phone you could even offer some users access to two networks simultaneously for the maximum possible coverage. This offering can be mirrored across all solutions.
- Price: Service providers negotiate wholesale prices with the carriers, so you are more likely to get a better deal than if you went direct. We also use our supply-chain relationships to garner flexibility and direct connectivity, so we can build a unique market proposition that alleviates your risk and resource requirements.
- Account management: A service provider will typically assign a dedicated account manager to your business. You will get a better service and consultancy because they will get to know you, your business, IT strategy and needs.
- Service: Independent providers are flexible enough to build a service wrap that actually suits you – as opposed to a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
- Infrastructure: Accreditation and compliance is no less important to an independent than it is to the major players. The stability of our systems, IT policies and ISO programs is as important as the integrity of our data and our people.
- Reaching for the top: In what other carrier-grade supply chain can you access Director level support when you need to, because you really are a key client?
As many UK studies are now showing, there is a need for businesses to start working with more agile Managed Service Providers if they want to be able to deliver true value back into their business.
Gartner tells us that you are becoming more sophisticated and more demanding – you are looking for providers that can convincingly demonstrate an ability to deliver tangible business improvements, with the experience, relationships, infrastructure and talent to back it up.
The best way to minimise resource investment, reduce risk, pass over cost containment and truly focus on your business strategy, is to choose substance over brand and work with an independent provider that can help you grow.