Vendors provide IT with services and products, but that is really just the tip of the iceberg for what a good vendor can do for you. There are actually myriad other benefits they can provide to help with IT strategy, operations, and costs. Mary Shacklett writes for TechRepublic about ten additional ways you and your vendors can be buddies.
- Input on new technologies and trends
- Best practices for IT
- Other industry expertise
- Trade shows, conferences, and user councils
- Project execution
- Performance tuning and optimization
- Industry studies
- ROI and TCO development
Vendors often have dedicated R&D functions to research technology trends, and they will surely be willing to share their information with you, since it gives them an opportunity to try to sell you additional solutions. Another thing vendors usually give you is a set of best practices to go along with their products; do not shove these aside! These can be a major productivity differentiator. One surprising way vendors can help provide even more insights is by getting you in contact with people who previously experienced challenges like ones you may be facing now. This can also happen at trade shows that vendors attend, with the added benefit in this case being that you and other clients can even voice what you would like to see more of from vendors.
About ROI and TCO development, Shacklett offers the following:
You know that a certain technology choice will help to address a business problem, but it's difficult to show the benefits in dollars and cents until you actually have the solution installed and running. This is a quagmire all IT decision makers find themselves in at some point when seeking budget approval. Vendors can help the situation because most have already developed ROI (return on investment) and TCO (total cost of ownership) figures that justify investing in their solutions. These formulas can be biased toward the vendors' own solutions. But they can often be adapted to a situation in your own company and used as a supporting tool to show the CFO where the payoff is.
It should be clear now that vendors can do a lot more than offer you one handy new tool. For even more insights, you can read Shacklett’s full article here: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-ways-your-it-vendors-can-help-you/