As you can tell by the title I am going to take the approach of citing observations and readings about the landscape of the Client Vendor relationship dynamic and how it should function like a good Superhero combo not Hero vs. Arch Enemy. Over the years I have been on both sides of the equation of this relationship and seen some pretty jaw dropping and eye popping relationship building interactions. These situations usually end the same way, Clients dislike the Vendor and the Vendor thinks the Client doesn’t get it.
The general dynamics of the current behavior of most business to business (B2B) relationships fall into a similar pattern of interaction. The interaction goes a little like this: The Client wants everything for Free and The Vendor wants to charge top dollar for every product and service. Does this sound pretty close to the 60-70% of the current relationship. Inherently this relationship is doomed to fail. There has to be a better way right, there is!
I think social media and the emergence of the social business design will start to help this B2B relationship to start functioning like the great super hero combos of history. Clients and Vendors can really collaborate and develop strong partnerships in the public view, then together start helping consumers by their great superhero collaborations! The Client and Vendor start to have a greater appreciation for where they compliment each other. Where they are both going for 5 years. If the realtionship would start off talking about planning and what can we solve or create instead of atribition, we can move into healither more socially and financially successful partnerships for each business and the consumers they serve.
Now with social media\technologies\business design there is so much to gain from being transparent and honest in public, that the behind the scenes collaboration will be so much better. Then the consumers start trusting two companies they might not had even thought were partnering on things! Now this does come with several layers of complexity, huge behavioral shifts, and open constructive communication, but I think there are huge opportunities for the B2B landscape to produce some really cool and innovative products and services. Businesses will have the ability to expand and contract based on higher level of need around design, innovation, and consumer advocacy.
These “collaborative” relationships can really help each side focus on their core business and have the confidence that their counterparts are in the game with them. One area I see more and more examples of these great Client Vendor partnerships being executed well are in the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS spaces. I think one of the main reasons is operating in the Cloud is a completely different way of collaborating than build, install, or staff augmentation when dealing with a Vendor that provides these products and services. Plus additionally I see this same mantra being carried into the app market for most mobile carriers. Clients and Vendors are starting to understand the complimentary approach to each other not the competitive approach.
So if [Your Company] is Robin who is your Batman, if [Your Company] is Superman who is your Spiderman (they teamed up a couple of times) If we are Captain America who is our Green Lantern……even Spiderman and a Ninja Turtle
Let me know what you think will make these relationships get better. What can we do on the Client side to shift our thinking?, what types of Vendor behaviors should we be looking for?