Hold a 'vendor day' to turn providers into partners

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Chances are you work with a number of external service providers, and you don't necessarily consider them strategic partners. Increasingly, though, CIOs are discovering opportunities for innovation and strategic advantage in working with vendors as partners rather than just providers, writes Peter High at CIO Insight.

When external partners are seen as sources of innovation and their customers' plans are shared with them, they are more driven to provide better products and services, High writes. To move toward this kind of strategic partnership, CIOs can schedule "vendor days" for sharing insights. Vendors can have the opportunity to meet not only with IT executives, but also with business executives so that they gain a better understanding of the company's overall strategy. They can be nudged into greater competition if they're rated and rewarded for exemplary performance. Even then, they should be encouraged to collaborate.

At Alliant Techsystems, CIO Jeff Kubacki has held a vendor day for the past two years, High reports. He brings in about 25 external partners and provides a synopsis of the company's business and IT strategies. One of the goals is to get vendors to consider the company's business strategy when offering new solutions. Kubacki presents a vendor of the year award to the best provider.

"Given the number of critical technologies and processes that technology vendors manage in this day and age, not setting up these relationships is truly irresponsible," High writes. "Developing vendor days, and engaging external partners in a new way, while stimulating collaboration and healthy competition, is the key to unlocking more value in these business relationships."

For more:
- see Peter High's post at CIO Insight

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