Many has been spoken written, and more so evangelized about, the fact that the client is king. For many years now, we have been hearing that we all need to focus on the client. And that seems to be what everyone is trying to do – To do the wrong thing. There seems to be an overall “collective myopia of the preposition”. It is not for us to have focus ON the client, and yes, to understand the focus OF the client. The client does not want for you to have your focus on him. He wants for you to understand and help resolve the issues related to his focus on the market, on his business, on the competition, and so on.
In a recent IT Services conference in Mumbai, India, I heard the Chief Innovation Officer for CSC, respond to a question of what were the companies’ main challenges in this gloomy future, after the financial tsunami came through, crumbling down the markets, to which he responded: Customer Intimacy and Thought Leadership.
What he meant about customer intimacy had nothing to do about knowing the customer´s favorite red wine of his wife´s birthday. It had to do with a deep understanding of the client´s problems and pains. So deep, that you end up understanding more of the client´s problem that himself.
By thought leadership, he meant that as a result of the depth of your understanding of the client´s problems, you were able to provide creative problem solving thinking, and because of that, the client trusts your common sense and judgment and will follow you.
The bottom line now is, that no matter what one does or thinks, it is vital to be really tuned in and in synch with the client. Otherwise, he or she will not be able to provide value, and will be eventually left out of the client’s vendor equation. Companies are looking to establish new relationship models that are not reliant on vendor-customer guidelines, and yes by a set of partnership guiding principles.
Bringing this view to the IT Services Outsourcing space, it is fare to assume that this new “partnership” approach will bear more weight than other more traditional product oriented based relationships. When it comes to services, you need to perform as part of the business, and in many instances dealing directly with the client´s customers.
Outsourcing and Offshoring, after the recent economic downturn, is beginning to be perceived as an imperative management tool, as the demand to bring down costs and eliminate waste grows greater. Many companies that in the past, were reluctant to go outside of companies´ perimeters, are being forced to, so they can stay alive.
This should bring additional pressure for companies to become more and more aligned with the client´s business and operating space. The vendor will not be able to be just a side-liner. He will need to have his hands inside the core as well. He will need to also be a business expert in the field.
This will probably help develop more business vertical prone IT Services providers, raising the level of specialization and competition, which in the end should represent a benefit to the client, who should gain by having a greater vendor (partner) selection pool, and vendors with substantial knowledge to help the company leverage from.
In the end, as with most negative economic cycles, there are always, dead, wounded and survivors. In this time around, there is also a new legacy to be carried forward. That we need to begin really understanding that we are already living new times. New times which call for the mandatory: TO DO MORE WITH LESS.
The law of diminishing returns seems to be already acting upon on us in every single front. So I guess we are finally doing the WALK of the old TALK “There is no free lunch!”