CIOs want vendors to demonstrate the bottom line

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When I was on the buying end of software at Shell, I tended to discount most things that vendors told me unless customer success stories had quotes from named individuals. If a vendor could get the head of marketing of a well-known firm to say that their product brought her several million dollars of benefits, then that one quote was worth an avalanche of glossy PowerPoint slides. This simple truth seems to elude many vendors, who produce case studies that say: “A well-known bank used our product to...”. If it was such a great project, then why is the customer unwilling to stand up behind it with a quote? Sure, some firms do have policies that make it tricky to endorse vendors, but very few are unwilling to publicise a wildly successful project.

Brevity is a virtue that vendors can lack. Just the other day I was treated to a 153-slide presentation, which suggests to me a company that is incapable of explaining what it does in a coherent way.

Vendors sometimes dig their own graves. When I was at Shell I was given a pitch by a large American vendor eager to demonstrate their global reach. They showed a slide with a world map and their various offices marked, and there, clearly marked just off the west coast of Africa, was their New Zealand office.

While such extreme examples rarely occur, I never fail to be surprised by how rare it is for a vendor to explain succinctly what benefits their product can bring in quantified monetary terms and with unambiguous customer proof points.

About the author:

Andy Hayler is founder of research company The Information Difference. Previously, he founded data management firm Kalido after commercialising an in-house project at Shell

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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