There is perhaps an over abundance of content, coverage and opinion about the evolving role of the CIO. IT leaders are continually juggling rapidly evolving technologies while also being tasked with leading transformational efforts across their organizations. As a result, many are in fact already well down the path of evolution.
What influence does this evolution have on the CIO’s buying mindset?
CIOs are increasingly focused more and more on sourcing for strategic impact and less on the technical details. This is not to say the latter isn’t still important. In today’s fast paced world, the typical CIO is especially adept at quickly assessing the broad technical practicality of most solutions. What they are more concerned with is how a solution fits within their technology ecosystem and ultimately how it will contribute to one or more business outcomes.
Not just partners, but Trusted Advisors
Particularly as more of the utility compute environment shifts to the cloud, the CIO seeks to find partners who can truly become trusted advisors as they navigate the complexities of the technical sea. Understandably not all IT vendors are expected to provide this level of partnership. The CIO doesn’t want nor need to talk about priorities, initiatives, and challenges with every vendor. What they do want and need however is for IT vendors to be transparent about their product capabilities, limitations, and scope.
If the CIO doesn’t know you, they’re unlikely to take your call – let alone buy from you!
CIO’s are busier than ever and are constantly looking for any and all avenues to reduce the discovery and vetting process for solutions. This more often than not starts and ends with peer/vendor collaboration through various events and gatherings. CIO’s get great value from events that offer visibility to a wide range of vendors across the technology stack while placing a premium on networking and relationship building.
Keys to delivering to the vendor expectations of the CIO:
Up front, the CIO requires these basics from all IT Vendors:
- What do you offer?
- Why do you offer it? (Most Important!)
- What does it cost?
- Who are your competitors, and how does it differentiate from them?
Further, the CIO considers the following to be essential behaviors of a trusted advisor:
- They know their audience. They do their homework, but they also know it’s ok to ask the CIO about their background and expertise. Bottom line: they don’t assume what the CIO knows or doesn’t know.
- They strive to know the CIO’s company, industry, peers, competitors, and customers as best they can.
- They know their product, and more importantly, how it’s implemented, used, and managed in the real world.
- They don’t just know who they’ve got as a customer. They know how their solution has made a difference for them and can articulate it.
Finally, the CIO expects any new solution to address at least one of the following outcomes:
- Will it transform and/or streamline a process?
- Will it consolidate at least one other solution in place today?
- Will it make and/or save money?
- Will it pull a lever(s) in the business?
In the end, it’s not just about solving IT challenges. IT vendors will be more successful when they take the time to build relationships and are focused more on showing how they can help the CIO deliver business value.