Yesterday I completed a call on the topic of EDI and B2B integration with a client and coincidentally also achieved a professional milestone: the client, La-Z-Boy Inc. (named with permission — thank you!), was the 1,000th Gartner client I’ve served
Rather than mark the event by ringing a bell, introducing live-band music and showering our client with ticker-tape (which, in retrospect, would have been kind of fun), I thought I’d offer a few thoughts about what this milestone means to me and, more importantly, our clients and the B2B scenarios that they’re involved in.
Clients either choose me by name or their request for advice is routed to me because the client’s desired IT topic — typically involving some combination of business-to-business integration, eCommerce and (more recently also) cloud services brokerage — is perceived by our client services organization to be a good fit for my skills. Advising 1,000 different clients over 10+ years tells me that B2B is a high-impact, enduring IT phenomenon. The fact that I’ve served 250 new clients since December 1st, 2009 — when I served my 750th Gartner client — also tells me that B2B remains as important today as it ever was.
But that’s no surprise, right?
Thousands of organizations world-wide do B2B! And many of these IT projects are complex and enduring, thus about 4 out of 5 of my calls are with clients that I’ve served before as I offer advice along the full life-cycle of their B2B-related IT projects. This ranges from initial conception and development of B2B strategy through B2B solution/vendor selection to pricing and project metrics. Clients still need to know about the basics, like what organizational and technical approaches to B2B work, which solutions to use, and which B2B standards matter. Or insight into more sophisticated B2B issues, such as how they can increase collaboration with external business partners on complex multi-enterprise processes. Or how B2B projects will be impacted by cloud computing, evolving application portfolios, mobile/social computing, and the need for better operational intelligence. And clients would like to know how B2B providers are responding to these changes, and which are more likely to survive.
The bottom line is that B2B projects are getting ever more complicated, even as they proliferate. Thus, there’s still a growing need for advice on B2B projects. I’m grateful to La-Z-Boy and the 999 other Gartner clients who’ve entrusted me (and my many colleagues who also cover this topic from different points of view) for their confidence and business. B2B has been a good run, and even with the advent of cloud computing, et al, it looks like it will continue to be a fun topic to follow for the foreseeable future.