The world has been shifting to remote services since the invention of the internet, and where you buy your goods from is becoming less important. The success of COVID has demonstrated that the majority of services can be delivered entirely remotely, and both your internal and external workforces can be flexible embedded consultants in the same manner. Can the location of your technology or IT supplier be unimportant given this?
Major corporations adopted offshore as a paradigm for their IT services in the 1990s and early 2000s. They cut their costs by delivering their knowledge-based services from low-cost nations while utilising connectivity and the internet revolution. As a result of their enormous investments in skill development (unlike the UK), the low-cost nations have constructed entirely new tech-based cities with substantial pipelines for skill development and extensive global connectedness.
However, these services stand out as “different” from those offered by more regional, onshore IT suppliers. Even if “a developer is a developer,” when talents are outsourced, often the subtleties of culture alignment and stakeholder management are lost. Many corporations that initially chose this offshore route have now reconsidered their choice and rebalanced their skill sets to reintegrate relationship, governance, and management capabilities into their own local companies while utilising the low-cost services for more commodity-like strategies.
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Additionally, this offshore strategy exposes businesses to high global risk. Geopolitical risk and foreign exchange risk are substantially more likely now than they have ever been. The globalised economy has potential drawbacks that should be avoided, including pound volatility, worker shortages, political trade disputes, and real war and violence.
Benefits of Local Purchasing for Smaller Businesses
However, the outsourcing sector has historically been a corporate domain. Even if this truly means finding an IT supplier inside their specific region (county or city) rather than further afield, purchasing local provides advantages for smaller businesses.
Being nearby has clear advantages for reaction time while providing assistance for technologically related physical equipment. Although “onsite server visits” and “backup tape changes” at company locations are no longer necessary due to the cloud, desktop support, printer assistance, and telephony have substantial advantages when the engineer is close to the location of the issue or the store is a short drive away. The effectiveness of these services depends on ensuring a local presence.
Relationship-building and the Benefits of a Local IT Supplier
The proximity of the account management team to the company is less evident but still important for almost all services. It is difficult to establish a connection with your embedded consultants without first seeing them in person, and it’s extremely harder to resolve a problem via video conference, no matter how “virtual” our encounters get. A good connection depends on subtleties in body language, tone, etc., and the more face-to-face interaction a firm can have with its suppliers, the better the services are.
For instance, if two of an IT vendor’s clients are having problems, Which one is the supplier account manager more likely to want to attend first, the one that is a 4-hour travel time or the one that is a 15-minute drive? People’s fundamental instincts tell them that they should be effective and efficient, that driving for four hours every day is not a smart use of their time, and that these decisions may make or break their relationships.
Similar to this, relationships are built on shared interests, and a truly local supplier will be able to do this. For example, inane conversations about good local restaurants, a shared love of a local football team, knowing people from the same school, etc., all have a significant impact on the depth (and success) of a relationship.
Travel, furthermore, has a financial and time cost. Due to the ever-rising costs of travel and time, businesses profit more if their sales, account, and support workers do not have to spend hours driving to and from customers. Collaboration between local companies makes sense on all levels.
Conclusion: Although using location as a major feature to find an IT or technology supplier may seem a little dated, it still has its uses, which is why it is one of the essential qualities of embedded intelligence.