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Shifting landscape

Seminar at CAMSC Diversity Procurement Fair
looks at trends and opportunities in IT

Note to suppliers in the IT field: to help you succeed, find out what your customers’ pain points are, then offer them specific solutions. And if you deliver on a particular job, the message gets passed around not only within the organization but also to potential clients outside of the organization as well.

That was some of the advice during an educational panel session at the Diversity Procurement Fair 2016, hosted by the Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council, held April 12-13 in Toronto. The event provides networking, learning and business building opportunities for global corporations and Aboriginal and minority owned businesses.

The session, entitled Trends & Opportunities in IT, featured Kuriba Sankar, director of IT consulting and professional services, RBC Financial Group and Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE. Forood Malekzadeh, senior partner and CEO of VTRAC Consulting, moderated the session.

At the conversation’s beginning, Ali discussed the trends towards digitization, or the application of technology across functions within an organization. He noted three drivers of this trend: a search for revenue or new revenue streams; as a way to increase productivity and to make business operations more efficient; and as a way to improve the end-user experience.

There are four areas that organizations are investing in: the Internet of Things; Big Data; artificial intelligence; and omni-channel delivery. These trends are connected, Ali noted, and all relate to improving the customer experience. The workforce is therefore changing and organizations are looking to hire millennials due to the different mindset they bring to the job.

Sankar also saw shifts—brought by technology—in the way businesses operate. Just as the video stores of past decades have given way to online streaming services, other fields like banking face shifts, he noted. The key, he said, was to move into where the transformation lies while also keeping an eye on the customer and where their needs are.

Advice to suppliers
Be specific regarding what you can do for organizations, advised Sankar. He suggested that suppliers not pitch too many services at once but to continue to follow up with potential clients. Dealing with a large enterprise requires a long-term approach, he said. Rather than trying to sell something immediately, build relationships that may lead to doing business together in the future.

“Organizations will take the time to make the decisions,” he said. “You may be able to pitch yourself today but the demand might come in a year or two. You have to have patience.”

The size of the business or operation is irrelevant when searching for new suppliers, Sankar said. In some instances, he has brought in one-person operations for specific partnerships. If the organization provides innovation and the pitch is interesting, a partnership may be possible.

A supplier should offer continuous improvement in order to keep the partnership going, Sankar said. There is competition everywhere, he noted, and suppliers must ask themselves constantly how they can improve a client’s experience. “If we’re able to find another supplier who is investing more than you, it’s difficult for you,” he said. “If you’re proactive in finding solutions you’ll be a superstar.”

Doing exceptional work and delivering results will earn a supplier a great reputation within an organization, Sankar noted. As well, that reputation will spread to other companies and organizations. Within banking IT, for instance, while buyers may be competitors, they still talk and a referral to another interested buyer may be a phone call away, he said. “If you’ve done a good job in one bank it’s likely it will spread to others,” he told the audience. “If you do a good job for a VP in one bank, go pitch the same to other VPs in other banks.”

“Deliver, but exceed expectations.  If you get a thank you without asking  then you’ve done your job.”— Jahan Ali

Ali agreed on many of the points offered by Sankar. He also recommended looking at what an organization’s pain points are and presenting specific ways to solve those challenges. It can also pay for a supplier to start with small projects to show how they can provide value, then build upon those successes. Ali also agreed that doing a great job is an excellent way to create future business. “Deliver, but exceed expectations,” he counseled. Companies aren’t small or big. It’s about being faster and better. Don’t think about your company as small, it’s all in your mind. It’s about what value you’re delivering.”

To conclude, business is changing because of the changes in technology. From the comments of the panel participants, organizations and suppliers alike would do well to adjust to the new normal that these advances bring.

-Published in Purchasing B2B Magazine, June 2016

Click here to read the article (PDF).