After years of disappointment, client organisations are sceptical about vendor pitches concerned with innovation, said research consultants, Ovum.

It said the use of the word 'innovation' has grown dramatically among IT services vendors in the last six months, however it seems that both clients and the players within IT services have different ideas as to what innovation is, and what it should deliver.

"The challenge is in the mismatch of vendor/client expectations and in the limitations of the contractual arrangements, this often means that the clients can be unhappy even when vendors deliver on all of the agreed metrics," says Angel Dobardziev, Ovum IT services practice leader.

In-depth discussions between Ovum and 11 major Western and Indian IT players around innovation revealed that the majority of vendors have different and often conflicting ideas as to how they think clients define innovation and the different client stakeholders involved also seem to have different expectations from vendors in terms of innovation.

"Clients will talk about, and demand innovation, but what they are really after are outcomes," explains Dobardziev. "Vendors should focus on these desired outcomes and take time to understand the different and often conflicting needs of various client stakeholders."

She advised everyone involved must work closely together every step of the way, from defining innovation expectations to agreeing the measures to track progress. This will mean ensuring an equitable approach to the sometimes tricky issues of risk and reward and intellectual property in innovative engagements.

“If you really want valuable innovation to be delivered as everyone expects, the deal should be treated as a partnership. It’s not enough just to say that a vendor/client relationship is strategic, you have to be prepared to invest in the relationship – if you don’t, then you’ll have an old-style customer/supplier relationship on your hands,” concludes Ovum’s Dobardziev.