The yearly CIO Survey from Harvey Nash and KPMG has revealed that eight in 10 IT leaders held larger budgets in 2018 to invest in IT vendors - but successfully managing the ever-changing ecosystems of partners requires more than just money.
CIO UK talked to some of the UK's top IT business leaders and how they manage their partnerships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups.
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July 24, 2019
2. Nick Giannakakis, CTO British American Tobacco
© Nick Giannakakis
At British American Tobacco (BAT), CTO Giannakakis' has centred his cloud strategy around close collaboration with vendors, who help the company maximise the value of its deployments.
"Our aim is to create our partner ecosystem," he says. "We will work with selective partners and we have strict rules of engagement with them. We have specific KPIs on how we will work with them, what we expect from them and what they can offer... And we will try to move to an agile way of operating with them."
Giannakakis believes this approach will not only provide the foundations for a range of digital platforms but will also help to support BAT’s transition to a direct-to-consumer business model.
"These will create an establishment that will change the overall business," he says. "This will be a key enabler in driving change from our technology aspect. If we succeed on that, the rest will follow."
5. Gatwick Airport CIO Cal Corcoran
© Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport CIO Cal Corcoran believes CIOs and their suppliers needs to communicate their shared goals to move beyond the kind of transactional relationship that can create problems when things aren't going smoothly.
"The biggest thing for me is for it to feel and act like partnership," he says. "That's a word that's kind of thrown around a lot and used a bit flippantly, but with the relationship that we have with HPE and with Aruba, it really does feel like partnership. We're in it together. There's been good days. There's been bad days, and they've been side by side through us in this journey.
"They took on what was a very ambitious project. They took on an ambitious risk profile and an ambitious timeline. They delivered on their commitment. They delivered on time to quality, to cost. They never waved the contract at me. They were always flexible, adaptable, good communication both ways.
"It didn't feel like a supplier-to-client relationship. It always felt like partnership, and that's very important, particularly if you're in it for the long run, if you're in it for a five-year-plus kind of gig."
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8. Eddie Stobart CIO John Court
© Eddie Stobart
Eddie Stobart CIO
John Court chooses his suppliers by focusing on the specific technology they offer rather than the vendor itself. The approach has led him to embrace all types of providers, from the IT behemoths to smaller specialist suppliers such as Quintiq, a producer of optimisation software.
"The work we're doing with them is to look at our overall supply chain network and model it and look at how we can make it even more efficient, by driving further efficiencies into the network," he says.
"We have quite a broad spectrum of providers, from the generic IT providers such as IBM and BT, through to specialist niche providers who help us deliver differentiation in the market through technology."
Read next: Eddie Stobart CIO John Court on how IoT, blockchain and AI are transforming transport and logistics
9. SGN Director of IT and Innovation Andrew Quail
SGN Director of IT and Innovation
Andrew Quail ensures that the gas firm gets the best services from suppliers by emphasising the mutual benefits of their relationship.
"People often talk about ecosystems or partnerships," he explains. "We genuinely have an environment now where strategic members have to work together for shared success. If they don't, we all fail.
"We have regular, frequent joint calls with very senior executives to ensure that this transformation journey is successful, and the parties are working together because there are a lot of challenges.
"There's a lot of new technology being used and different ways of working. I would say all organisations, all of the industry vendors in my landscape are having to learn and having to adjust in order to support what we're doing here, and I have to say they are.
"It's quite different from the go to market, find a contract, sign the contract, let it run model. It's much more iterative, much more – dare I say – agile, and much, much more engaged."
Read next: Andrew Quail reveals how SGN works with regulators on digital strategy
10. Vodafone Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal
Vodafone Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal selects suppliers through the company's marketplace procurement system in which the Vodafone CTO and central group functions constantly evaluate new technology.
"For us, it's about evolution, particularly when you're talking about multiple millions of customers being served on those core applications, but in terms of new investment, we look to organisations like Gartner and our strategic relationships… and we really look at what's the best technology fit for that particular market based on the customer's needs," says Dhaliwal.
The focus on evolution has led Vodafone to prioritise the proven benefits offered by existing partners, which led the company to choose Oracle to support the development of VOXI, a SIM-only service for under-30s.
"The key point of why we didn't go down that route is because of our strategic relationship with Oracle, the fact that we've built a solid foundation with Oracle, and we understand how to operate within that ecosystem," says Dhaliwal.
"We've got a whole group of senior managers who are experienced in the implementation of Oracle systems. So for us, it would have been very alien to use a new capability that was newly introduced to our market."
Read next: Vodafone Head of IT Delivery on digitising the customer experience