The rapid rise of social media, cloud computing, and mobility in India has started to affect how organizations do business in the country. This is driving a fundamental shift in the CIO role as it moves from classic “plan, build, run” cycle management to a business-oriented, leadership-focused position. To gauge systems integrators’ (SIs’) readiness to support the changing CIO role, Forrester interviewed CIOs at 30 Indian companies and has just published a report on the same. For the purposes of this report, “Indian SIs” includes SIs headquartered in India and multinational SIs doing business in the country. We conducted interviews with CIOs in the form of open discussions; our aim was to determine CIOs’ opinions about their SIs, including how effectively those SIs are shifting to a more value-added, business-oriented engagement model. These interviews yielded some grim findings, as CIOs believe that SIs:

  • Don’t understand the business requirements of the CIO role. Only 28% of CIOs think that SIs understand their changing business requirements, while 70% of CIOs think that SIs focus too much on technology delivery.
  • Focus too much on upselling or cross-selling their products and solutions. SI teams, including account managers and consultants, usually focus more on promoting products and services; they have very little knowledge of what CIO and client organizations are looking for and don’t care to learn.
  • Lack the tools and templates to define the business value of emerging technologies. Most of the CIOs indicated that they believe that SIs are not able to define the business value of emerging technologies.
  • Increasingly fail to add business value to CIOs. Indian CIOs now expect an increased level of business maturity from SIs, but most SIs are not adjusting their people, offerings, or engagement models sufficiently in response.

Instead of waiting for SIs to change their technology-driven strategy, Indian CIOs are developing their own methods to extract greater business value from their SIs and our report highlights innovative ways that CIOs have started to adopt.

Many of the CIOs we spoke with said that SI differentiation relies on demonstrated know-how and familiarity with an organization’s goals. CIOs assign strategic partner status to vendors that are willing and able to align in substantial ways. Many Indian CIOs enthusiastically agreed that they would invest significantly more resources with vendors that fit their view of a value-added partner. It’s important for an SI to understand its value-added strategy outside of the products or services it offers. CIOs are looking for a more dynamic and continuous engagement with their SIs so that they can respond to changing business needs better, faster, and cheaper. Forrester has created a three-stage, business-focused iterative framework for SIs to refine their sales, delivery, and client service strategies and become more business results-driven, and better engage CIOs in India. This SI framework is detailed in the report.

Ultimately, SIs need to de-emphasize products and services in favor of business outcomes, as business results — not products or solutions — differentiate SIs in the eyes of CIOs.