Customers Want a Partner Not a Vendor

Becky Dziedzic, Xerox public relations manager

I’m inspired by Procter & Gamble. Not because I basically keep the Pampers and Tide brands in business with two small children, but because of their commitment to IT innovation.

A few years ago, P&G re-aligned its IT support structure to focus on innovative solutions instead of just technology, and to ensure IT initiatives support business objectives – an example other organizations should follow, according to Sonal Shah’s blog in Computerworld last week. Shah urges IT professionals to look beyond the technology, the processes, the standards and “to instill in the IT staff, a mindset of continuous improvement, and to ensure that their goals align with the business needs, even as they change and evolve daily.”

In P&G’s case, they not only changed the internal structure, they forged new vendor relationships (or revised existing ones) – requiring strategic partners that understand their business and collaborate to build that continuous improvement into the way they work. For example, before Xerox signed on to deliver our Enterprise Print Services to P&G, they wanted to know upfront what we were going to do to raise the bar. How would we go beyond managing their global print infrastructure to provide innovative ways for P&G employees to be more productive, more sustainable and more mobile?

Luckily, Xerox and P&G are cut from the same cloth when it comes to innovation – it’s a large part of our past and it’s vital to our future, so we had the answers.

And having those answers, being able to co-invent with customers, is the future of the customer – vendor relationship, as I see it. The more customers I hear from, the more apparent it is that the vision we set forth in the contracts we are winning is a joint venture – one that meets business objectives for both companies.

In this economy, P&G says innovation is a lifeboat and we would agree. But, as we say, “Innovation is only innovation if it is of interest to your customers.”

For more on Xerox and P&G, check out this video of Xerox CTO Sophie Vandebroek and P&G’s director, Global Business Services, Caroline Basyn. 

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