Part Two of a Five-Part Series
Some of the best years of my career were spent working for a non-profit student loan organization: a great company with great people. The problem with this type of company is that there is generally only one per state. Even though we didn’t compete, communication between companies was limited and there was no visibility into the industry from an IT perspective.
How were the other forty-nine student loan organizations organized? What were their priorities? What was working and what wasn’t? How were they adapting to new laws and regulations? I was isolated and on my own. You may feel that isolation from time to time, but remember you’re not as alone as you think. A good partner – one that’s well versed in your industry – can provide you with much of the direction you seek without violating anyone’s NDAs.
Being in the trenches day in and day out, you come to know your business better than some people know their own children. That rarely leaves time to follow industry trends, research emerging technologies and contemplate how they fulfill your mission. In my last post, I took the time to outline why working with a partner beats buying from a vendor, and now I’d like to share the top three ways partners understand your industry better than a vendor.
Experience with Similar Customers
A good partner works with numerous companies in your industry. While you spend your days putting out fires, partners spend theirs working side-by-side with hundreds of customers, discussing their environments, contemplating their challenges, applauding their successes and designing their futures. How valuable would it be to have a partner engineer standing at your whiteboard who understands your industry, your business, your technology, and has the experience of countless IT departments in your space?
Preparation for Industry Shifts
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “the only constant is change.” Industry shifts can happen rapidly and nobody wants to be a footnote in the history of their industry. IT must be able to quickly and efficiently adapt to these changing tides. Chances are your IT department isn’t the first one to navigate new and changing waters. It is likely that a good partner saw these changes coming, prepared for them, and has navigated others through choppy waters already. Make use of this experience, it may just become your competitive advantage.
Another potential competitive advantage comes from cross-industry innovation. Back in the 1930s, a soap manufacturer invented a unique clay compound to clean coal residue from wallpaper. It did a fine job, and no doubt cleaned lots of wallpaper. However, twenty years later a preschool teacher saw another use for the cleaning compound – a modeling clay for children – and a new business was born.
It’s been sixty-five years since then and nearly every American has played with Play-Doh. It succeeded because someone recognized how to use it a little differently in their own industry. Partners sit at that crossroads between industries. They don’t just work with dozens of companies in your industry, they work with numerous companies in many industries. If you’ll allow them, they can use that cross-industry experience to help your company innovate and lead.
Experience within the same industry, preparation for industry shifts and cross-industry innovation are only three of the many ways working with a strategic partner beats playing vendor games. This is the second in a five-part series dedicated to helping companies identify true partners and understand the advantages of working with them. Continue reading the next post, “Invest in a Partner Who Will Invest in You” to understand more of the returns you can count on by working with a committed partner. Again, if you missed the first post in this series, you can read it here, “Why Working with a Partner Beats Buying from a Vendor Any Day.”
Curious about how IE partners with their customers and what that could look like for you? Email me at email@example.com and let’s chat.
About the Author:
Justin Bera has worked in technology for over 15 years, and has experience working with security, redundancy, disaster recovery and policy compliance. He is currently the Manager of Solution Engineering for IE, spending his days working with IT folks to solve challenges in their environments and design solutions to support the changes in their networks and businesses.