What’s the difference between a technology partner and a technology vendor, and why does it matter?
For many types of tech that your organization procures, the people on the vendor-side supporting the technology’s implementation at your organization are as important to the technology’s successful uptake by the business as the tech’s hard and fast capabilities. Knowing what to look out for and expect from a technology vendor can elevate the vendor from a non-involved entity – that deals with your organization at an arm’s length – to a strategic business partner that is in complete alignment with your organization’s objectives. In turn, restructuring your relationships with your ‘tech vendors’ can make it far more likely that your tech investments prove fruitful in the long run.
Vendor or partner: what’s the difference?
The crucial difference between a tech vendor and a tech partner (meaning those vendors that take a more collaborative approach) is the level of involvement and collaboration they have with their clients. Specifically, tech partners tend to align their objectives with their clients while tech vendors are solely concerned with raising revenue.
A tech vendor is primarily focused on selling a product or service to a client. They typically have a standardized offering and are very unwilling to offer a customized level of support as their main objective is to close a sale and move on to the next customer.
A tech partner is focused on developing a long-term relationship with their clients. They work closely with their clients to understand their unique needs and goals, and develop customized solutions that are tailored to meet those needs. They are often involved in every step of the process, from needs analysis to solution design, implementation, and ongoing support. They offer a higher level of collaboration, expertise, and support than a vendor.
Tech partners also tend to be more invested in their client’s success. They understand that the success of their clients is directly tied to their own success, and as such, they are more likely to go the extra mile to ensure that their clients are satisfied with their solutions. They often take a consultative approach, providing guidance and advice on best practices and industry trends.
Characteristics of a tech partner
If you’re in the market for a new technology or you’re looking to restructure your relationships with existing vendors, here’s some characteristics to look for and questions to ask to ensure that you eventually contract with a strategic tech partner:
- Collaboration: how willing is your key contact at the vendor to meet with you to discuss how you can work together to ensure the best successful implementation possible of your technology? Does your contact simply direct you to a generic section of their website, or are they willing to hop on a call and listen to your needs?
- Customization: does the vendor only offer a one-size-fits-all support model, or are they willing to listen to your organization’s intention behind procuring their product and build a custom support model around that intention?
- Knowledge: how much does the vendor know about your business objectives? Was there a discussion made during the sales process about what you’re looking to achieve with their technology? How much does the vendor understand about your business more generally? Are they curious to learn more about your strategic objectives?
- Transparency: is your vendor willing to disclose what metrics they use to indicate whether or not your organization is a good client? If your vendor is willing to modify their metrics to align with your business objectives, this is a very good sign that they are interested in working collaboratively as a partner.
Equipped with these questions in mind, you will very quickly be able to discern whether the vendor you are reviewing is the right fit for your organization.