The market place is changing. Instead of customers dealing with a large number of suppliers, they are now choosing to deal with a handful of strategic IT partners. CIOs want partners to help them get ahead. Partners willing to tackle challenges head on jointly and demonstrate innovation and project ownership. They want open discourse and a real working relationship.
Our teams work alongside our customers as strategic partners, putting together ongoing plans of action and execute them. With technology now a real baseline for business it has to be so much more than a simple ‘service rendered, payment made’ relationship. But, to make this so called flat leadership model work, front-line staff must have a bigger say in how they deal with customers.
With our customers we are implementing strategic sourcing and vendor management, for example, so we can carefully build interlocks with them. Our governance model ensures that at strategic, tactical and operational levels we have the right local teams interfacing with the right people, discussing the right topics at the right time, supported by our own partners in the customer ecosystem. Local teams lead very much from the front. They are backed up by executive sponsors who attend meetings incase an issue needs to be escalated or additional support is needed to implement or facilitate a solution.
Feet on the ground
We have carefully assessed leadership at the customer level– and to put it plain and simple, it is localized. Our local teams, the feet on the ground, own the action plan and work in partnership with customers to map out strategies, address innovation and drive their transformation. This style of autonomy has a positive impact on customer satisfaction.
Let me give you an example of how self-empowerment works in partnership with our customers. A problem was detected in a meeting with one of our international customers relating to provisioning recently. The customer felt the process was taking too long. After further investigation it was mutually agreed there was a problem our end and also in the way the customer was organized. Instead of addressing it sequentially, which can be a long drawn out process, we looked at it from a totally different perspective. We brought in a local team to own the implementation from end-to-end to create an agile working environment and dramatically improve the customer experience Our local team working very closely with the customer made this happen. Why? Because they are on the ground, they know the customer intimately and have the power to make changes. Each customer has individual needs and they know exactly what will work for them.
This, I believe, is a great example of applying self-empowering and self-steering local teams to address business problems that relate to both the customer and ourselves.
Preparing for the long haul
Investment is essential from both sides. We have to create an understanding between both parties of what value can be delivered to the business environment. The better governance, the better interlocking between both parties, the better end results.
Local leadership at customer level is fundamental to the way the marketplace is evolving. Local teams are more agile, geared up for faster decision making and problem solving. They know exactly where and how improvements can be made and make them happen quickly.
Frank is Managing Director of Benelux and leads enterprise activities across Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. He studied commercial economics and marketing in Utrecht and has over 20 years of business and technology leadership experience. Frank is the proud father of two sons and, in his free time, he enjoys being with his family and friends, sailing, playing tennis, golfing and experiencing new sights.