“Our agency doesn’t understand what we need!”
I have heard this many times over the past few years from a range of businesses. Playing predominantly in the eCommerce fashion space, many of our clients have gone through digital horror stories; a technology partner who seems to know everything on paper, but doesn’t take the time to know the real needs of your business, and most importantly how your business and technology connect; leading to misaligned solutions and quick fixes that seem to hold issues at at bay temporarily only.
So how can we identify a potential great tech partner and those which just look and sound good?
Apple and Microsoft have learnt that to really connect with their consumer it’s no longer just about the product. They try and understand us and connect to our deeper needs. Though questioning more about their customers, they uncover deeper levels of value their products can bring to us in our daily lives.
This is not unlike what a great tech partner should do for your business. If you find your tech partner relies too much on the product and doesn’t take the time to get to know you or your business, then it might be time to start reviewing whether they are the right fit.
The below 6 factors can help to identify a great tech partner:
1. They want to know why you do what you do
A great tech partner will want to know the deeper purpose of you, your business and your goals. Just like a car convoy utilising a GPS location to get to the same place, understanding the purpose allows your tech partner to align to where you are going. Through understanding this, your tech partner will be able to ensure that their solutions and decisions are leading to the same place you are trying to get to.
2. They are able to clearly articulate their company vision, values and why they do what they do
Just like you, they have their own vision and values and are able to articulate this to you clearly. It is important that you are both clear on how your vision and values align as this paves the pathway to you working together. If you are both heading in different directions, then this is a clear identifier on whether your partner is a long term one or not.
3. They want to meet your team
Gone are the days when technology could operate in isolation from the business. As technology becomes more intertwined with everyday business decisions, a great tech partner will recognize that stakeholders are not limited to the decision maker. With the merging of business functions (online, marketing, recruitment and more) a great tech partner will help you make responsible decisions which benefit the whole organization.
4. They care about growing the relationship
It’s not just about the product or service they provide. Whomever we do business with is in a relationship with us after all. A great tech partner will understand that this is a relationship and just like any relationship, the goal is mutual benefit. They will be upfront about what they need in order to keep delivering. This keeps the relationship healthy and sustainable.
5. They know the client isn’t always right, and nor are they.
A great tech partner will say no to you. They understand that you won’t have the time or transparency to know everything about eCommerce or technology. They know you rely on them for their honesty, advice and foresight. They will do their utmost to protect you and your business from negative situations even when you think you are right. Likewise a great tech partner also will not know everything about your business, and be upfront about this. They will ask questions to delve deeper into understanding your business and revisit their recommendations to ensure they are aligned.
6. They will create a mutual plan with you
A great tech partner will be proactive and attempt to create a mutual plan for success. Through looking at the needs of today, and the needs of tomorrow for your business, a great tech partner will not take sides or argue on the limitations of the technology. They will work with you to find or create new solutions that will work for both the technology and the business.
This is only a small list of some of the higher level things to look out for in identifying a great tech partner. It’s not an exhaustive list, and still requires your time and effort to prepare an understanding of your needs and how to communicate these needs clearly. In the end, your tech partner will have direct impact to your business and your customers. Looking out for these 6 factors will give some guidance on what to keep in mind when vetting the right tech partner and help to prevent potential negative impacts down the line.