SMEs value trust over cost when buying business critical technology

76% of SMEs rely on vendors for needs analysis

SAP recently released a study examining how small and midsize enterprises view and evaluate their technology partners. The SAP Business Partnership Study polled 300 SMEs located in the United States along with 300 located within Germany. The study uncovered an emerging reliance on technology partners among SMEs located in both countries. The study also outlined how SMEs viewed their relationships with tech vendors, showing an increasing amount of trust and an emphasis on reliability.

Among those surveyed, 76 percent are now relying on technology vendors for consultation. Furthermore, 76 percent rely on technology vendors to anticipate future needs and risks, while 79 percent rely on them for insight and advice.

The study revealed just how highly SMEs value technology companies. Approximately two-thirds of SMEs view their technology partners as more than just external resources; they view them as vital partners for maintaining operations and fostering growth. Companies also described their relationships in more personal terms than one might expect. In total, 80 percent of respondents valued cultural fit and trust more than cost saving technology partners can provide.

Changes in language underlined the evolving relationship between SMEs and tech vendors. A total of 72 percent of US respondents felt the term “outsourcing” didn’t appropriately describe their relationship with vendors. The term “partnership” to describe relationships with vendors was endorsed by 78 percent of US respondents.

Speaking on the study, Rodolpho Cardenuto, president, Global Channels & General Business, SAP, stated: “We are in the midst of unprecedented societal change, which poses both tremendous opportunity and challenges for today’s business leaders. In this environment, trust and mutual respect for culture have never been more important. They are the bedrock of all successful business relationships. We’ve seen what amazing things can happen when these qualities are nurtured and developed.”

Further results revealed that 74 percent of US respondents plan on maintaining a relationship with their important tech and IT partnerships for the long term. These respondents view investing in a dependable partner to be more important that investing in any specific technologies, showing how much trust plays a role in the modern business world when it comes to technology.

Critical Factors

Among crucial factors outlined by respondents for building a productive relationship, honesty came out on top, being mentioned by 80 percent of respondents. Open communication came in a close second, being cited by 78 percent of those surveyed. Collaboration came in third but was still highlighted by 70 percent of respondents.

Companies also stated that successful business relationships were helpful for facilitating learning and exchanging useful information. Among US companies, 80 percent agreed with this idea, while 77 percent of their German counterparts felt the same way.

On the results, Dr. Avan Jassawalla, professor of management, State University of New York at Geneseo, stated: “The results of this survey demonstrate that today’s SMEs are changing how they measure return on investment. They are now looking for technology partners rather than simply providers of technology services. To ensure these long-term relationships lead to growth both technologically and culturally, vendors must become as savvy in interpersonal skills as they are in technology.”