Organizational resilience and the role of your reseller

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Gartner analyst Stephen White (an ex-colleague of mine) recently wrote an interesting blog post highlighting the way in which the role of software resellers is changing.

The post focuses on the increased demand for services to support and complement the third-party products that they sell, specifically what he describes as ‘long-tail’ vendor management.

This is no surprise to the many organizations that have seen their IT procurement and vendor management functions gradually downsized over the years. While in-house sourcing teams are fully occupied negotiating and managing large enterprise-wide contracts with major vendors and outsourcers, they are still aware that there is a value and risk mitigation opportunity in active management of this large portfolio of (relatively) low spend vendors.

Resilience and the rise of technology vendor diversification

Before the pandemic, as Stephen points out, there was already growing diversification in the application portfolio as SaaS made more products easily accessible – in particular, to business-unit budget holders with corporate credit cards. However, even as some parts of the business were investing in new and innovative solutions, IT strategy was focused on rationalizing application and vendor portfolios resulting in a never-ending round of standardization and diversification.

While security, disaster recovery, and business continuity professionals were already talking about the need for resilience, the pandemic has driven this home. With the mass move to remote working, our dependency on technology for all aspects of work has been highlighted and with it, the need for diversity in both the application portfolio and vendor base.

The impact of vendor outages – whether applications or connectivity – has increased in significance. They can leave end users unable to communicate or collaborate with colleagues, and without access to systems and documents. Infrastructure outages can take out multiple services for large parts of the population rather than affecting a single site or entity, while other systems and services supported by different infrastructure still work.

Considerations like these, together with concerns about vendor lock-in, are driving change in sourcing strategies. With agility and resilience now a priority, there is increasing interest in developing hybrid multi-cloud strategies that take advantage of different capabilities and pricing.

Example – video conferencing

With employees needing to collaborate online both internally and with customers and suppliers, video conferencing tools have proliferated. While every organization has its preferred internal solution, most of us find that we use different solutions at different times for different reasons. (This week I have used Teams, WebEx, Zoom, and Google.)

While this variety may have been driven by the need to deploy solutions quickly to a wider user-base during the move to remote, it means that end users have the flexibility to use the most suitable solution at any given time — increasing productivity and reducing downtime and frustration as they set up online meetings. It also ensures that an alternative is in place in the event of downtime or other technical issues.

The impact of innovation on technology sourcing

End users are often the first to understand their changing needs and find their own solutions. It is increasingly easy to provide both choice and control through app stores, and IT teams acknowledge that user needs are not static. The advantage of having so-called ‘duplicate’ functionality is that, in the event of a problem, IT can move quickly to roll out an already tried and tested solution to the wider organization.

IT leaders are reaching an acceptance that their vendor portfolios need to grow, as reliance on a few vendors increases risk unnecessarily. Stephen’s blog post flags that this growth in the vendor portfolio is driving demand for long-tail vendor management services.

Our experts work as an extension of your team

SHI can confirm that this trend is on the rise. Our SAM Managed Services customers are increasingly focused not just on the megavendors, but on business-critical software across the organization. They are less interested in consolidation than in optimization – and this isn’t simply about cost, but about driving value from existing investments by improving adoption. We are working with customers to support this expansion in their vendor portfolio, managing the long tail on their behalf.

Whether it is identifying risk in licensing terms, negotiating contracts, or optimizing renewals, our experts have experience across a wide range of vendors. We ensure that the expanding vendor landscape provides the flexibility our customers need with the right products, on the right terms, at the right price while freeing up in-house procurement and vendor management teams to focus on larger contracts.

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