Building IT Innovation By Partnering With Experts
Randy Mizzoni, SVP, Sales & Marketing
April 6, 2021
I wrote an article recently that explored the role suppliers can play in helping innovation and transformation. Rather than asking your supplier community to ‘just do the job’, if you engage and share your vision for the future then you might be surprised. Each one is an expert in their field and their deep insight can help you to avoid expensive mistakes and transform your business in a way that leads to more success.
This case study on our company web page is a great example. It talks about our history working with the oldest family-owned drugstore brand in the United States, Bartell Drugs. As you can see from the case study, Bartell Drugs doesn’t just say that we did a great job advising them on which managed services provider to use, they state that our approach to working with them means that they now look to us as a trusted adviser.
This is just one example that demonstrates the reality of my earlier article. You don’t need to just deliver what the client asks for – why not work with them, learn about their issues, and deliver a solution that helps improve their business?
I believe that this is particularly important when it comes to innovation and trying to work out how your business will look in the future. Huge multinational companies have R&D teams and a budget specifically for innovation. They are all trying to define the future, but what if you are a smaller company with no specific budget to set up an innovation lab?
The answer is, once again, to partner with your suppliers.
There are many ways that this might happen. It could be a formal agreement to work together, it could be the creation of a virtual ‘lab’ that your company will use to connect several suppliers, or it could just be a one-to-one relationship between your company and one supplier, but the point is that it works.
Look at the enormous Dutch multinational, Philips, for a good example of a more formal approach. They created an online platform called SPICE that is like a social network for suppliers, inventors, and the Philips team to bounce new ideas around. It creates a pipeline of suggestions and organizes the review process. This is one of the most critical aspects of any innovation program – you can’t ask people to suggest ideas for how to do things better if nobody ever reviews the ideas.
The one-to-one approach is clearly preferable for smaller companies, even though a platform like SPICE isn’t difficult to create. Think about our own world of cloud tools and services. The environment is always evolving. New companies are emerging all the time with web service offerings and even the main rivals are constantly developing new ideas and services. There are different cloud management systems and suites of applications.
Our world is constantly changing, but it’s our job to be on top of it. I have often alerted a client to an upcoming feature that Microsoft will be introducing, because I think it may be useful for that specific client, and when they see that I’m looking out for them, offering ideas and suggestions, it changes the relationship. Like the Bartell Drugs example, if you can demonstrate to your client that you are watching the market and will always alert them to changes and useful features then you become much more than just a service provider.
Innovation can be risky because it involves mistakes. You have to be prepared to try out some new ideas and be ready to roll back the ones that don’t work. But it works much more effectively when partners understand and trust each other. For cloud and IT innovation, you don’t need an innovation lab, just a partner that is ready to build a long-term relationship.
WatServ demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through proven technology and customer commitment.
WatServ is an IT solutions provider that helps clients digitally transform their business through cloud technologies and services. Founded in 2006, WatServ specializes in providing hybrid and multi-cloud solutions and hosting complex, high-availability environments for enterprise-level applications. WatServ’s unique approach to planning, migrating and managing multi-cloud environments, plus premium 24x7x365 support, enables its global customers to focus on their core business. Relying on Microsoft and Google’s public clouds, in addition to its own private cloud, the company offers an ideal managed cloud environment engineered for security, reliability and performance. With offices in Canada and the United States, and with 1000’s of users connecting from around the world, WatServ is always on. For more information, please visit www.watserv.com.
WatServ is an affiliate of Brookfield Business Partners (BBU), a public company with majority ownership by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and listed on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchange. More information about BBU is available at www.brookfield.com.