Over half of CIOs want to see their ICT suppliers demonstrate "more business awareness".

Research from analyst Ovum, conducted among 200 CIOs and their procurement counterparts in 200 large public and private sector organisations, aimed to "discover the true state of the enterprise’s relationship with the channel".

The study unearthed CIOs' "desire for evolution", particularly around definitions of business outcomes and value, said Ovum.

The study, commissioned by TalkTalk Business, found that 57 per cent of CIOs surveyed cited "low business awareness" as one of their top three concerns regarding their IT partners. Ovum said this implied that some SIs (system integrators) and value added resellers (VARs) "may be getting too caught up in technical details", rather than "seeing the big picture" when it comes to their clients’ needs.

In many cases, CIOs are getting more involved in ICT management, rather than relying on channel recommendations alone. Almost half (49 percent) of CIOs wanted to be involved actively in selecting vendors for their projects, while nearly a third felt it was critical that they knew all suppliers involved.

The key to finding that balance lies first in identifying the reasons why customers ask for new technology, and then putting together a customised partner and product portfolio that can deliver accordingly.

Flexibility has a key role to play too, with the majority of CIOs (58 per cent) believing that they are constrained by their SI’s vendor choices and two thirds (67 percent) seeing an immediate need for more flexibility in existing product portfolios.

CIOs can often be more reticent than they realise when it comes to sharing their business objectives,” said Ovum. “SIs and VARs who actively engage their customers in open discussions about underlying objectives – rather than just technical requirements – are in a better position to be viewed as a partner, not just a supplier.”

“Defining returns on investment in purely technological terms is often easily done. Where SIs and VARs can showcase their input is by articulating those returns in terms of business objectives and outcomes achieved."