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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Building Success in a Flat Economy: Beating the Vendor Renegotiation Game

It's certainly no news these days that the economy could be a lot better, but a recent survey from Gartner points to both the scale of the cutbacks affecting enterprise technology providers and how they are being hit by those cutbacks. According to Gartner 42 percent of the surveyed CIOs had cut back their budgets in Q109, and 90 percent of CIOs had made budget changes opting for cutbacks. While the average overall decline was about 4.2 percent among the surveyed CIOs, those cutting back were averaging about 7.2 percent.

Of more concern to information services providers, though, is how these cutbacks are impacting the vendors servicing these CIOs and their organizations. The two most popular methods for dealing with budget cutbacks this year mentioned in the Gartner survey have been to reduce headcount and to renegotiate contracts with vendors. So although information services providers may not be getting the axe, they're certainly getting that pared-down feeling in many instances. Of course, their clients still expect them to deliver outstanding service for those lower prices. Goodbye margins, hello aspirin. It's going to be a bumpy stretch.

There's no magic wand that can help an information services company avoid these cutbacks, but there are strategies that you can deploy which just might help to make the difference between pain and gain during challenging times. One key strategy is to use cutbacks as an opportunity to open a dialogue with your customers about aggregating information services. With different departments and work roles using different information services, oftentimes with overlapping functions and content sources, helping your customers to reduce the number of interfaces into those services can wind up being a cost-saving move for them that may create new revenue opportunities for you. In other words, instead of customers being forced to choose between one information service over another, help them to deliver the information from as many of them as possible under one more easily supported service.

Now, wouldn't it be nice if that aggregator who helped your client to solve their budget problems while improving information access was your company? Well, it certainly can be you - especially if you're a MuseGlobal OEM partner. MuseGlobal's MuseConnect content integration services enable any information technology and services provider to provide well-integrated access to any number of searchable information sources rapidly and reliably. Instead of looking at all of the other platforms in use at your clients as potential competitors for budget, they can become the sources of content that can be fed into an integrated solution that your own platform champions.

You can use MuseConnect to bring content from other platforms into your own platform using our exclusive Smart Connector technologies or create a custom interface that combines information from both your platforms and others exactly the way that your clients want to see it. And with MuseConnect's built-in management of network security, user administration and content source updating the complexities of bringing multiple platforms under one access point will turn out not to be so complex at all. Client support costs go down, their productivity goes up. So when push comes to shove on which platforms will get the lion's share of whatever budget is left, you can put yourself at the head of the line for getting a fat cut of that budget.

Our MuseConnect technologies are a key enabler for such dramatic turns because of their ability to provide reliable content integration at the drop of a hat. With more than 6,000 pre-built and easily configured Smart Connectors at your disposal, MuseConnect makes it easy to move rapidly from "We can help you" discussions to "We're ready to show you" discussions that can help to turn around budget discussions from a paring down to a win-win save - or more. And as always, since our Smart Connectors are maintained around the clock as a part of your MuseConnect service, your support costs for these victories are factored in easily to your bottom line.

So as you're wrestling with clients who are trying to eke their way through tougher times, remember that there can be great opportunities in these times to turn the tables on your competitors and to be the first to step forward as the aggregation solution that helped to save your clients money and to wind up improving information access all at the same time. Hopefully that will be enough to get your clients through the next year or so - and to put you in the driver's seat for when times get better.

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