During the last three weeks we have had a number of partner sessions with our customers where we can share the advantage of working with multiple customers, as well as customers in other industries. We have been presenting and discussing trends across the industry and what we think will be key in the next six to twelve months.
I enjoy these sessions mainly because I’ve always enjoyed professional collaborative relationships and also because the questions we are asked by one customer about what we’re doing with another make us think harder about both of them – i.e. it gives us a fresh perspective. These sessions are the key difference between being a supplier and a partner.
A supplier provides a commodity and that’s the end of the relationship. A partner provides advice beyond their core product and helps the customer in their journey.
This collaboration shows how outsourcing, and indeed offshoring, has matured. Offshoring began purely as a cost benefit – paying people in distant lands a cheaper salary. CFOs made the decision to outsource and/or offshore without consulting IT departments.
This has moved on to providing R&D or innovation centres, and now it’s about collaboration and industry trends. CTOs are now willingly making the decision.
We have been working with a creative agency recently offshores their graphic design work. They seem to be ahead of the industry and only time will tell if this works with more subjective and culturally sensitive deliverables.
I remember our design team at IMG were once maxed out and we asked our New York office to help with a creative pitch for a football club. The designs came back with words such as ‘soccer’, ‘jersey’ and full of stats that, even as a Premiership club season ticket holder, I didn’t have a clue what they meant. Cultural changes apply to design more than technical development.