CIO: Get On the Same Page with Your VARBy Scott Ferguson | Print
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Kent Kushar, CIO at the Ernest and Gallo Winery, shares his experience with VARs and what they can do to improve their relationship with clients and users.
When Kent Kushar looks for a solution provider, there are a dozen different points he will consider before making a decision.
However, there is one piece of advice Kushar, vice president and CIO at the Ernest and Gallo Winery in Modesto, Calif., gives for those looking to make business deals with his company.
"You have to manage the gap in perception from what you think and what I think," Kushar told about 50 VARs at the CompTIA Breakaway Conference in Orlando, Fla.
Kushar, who is considered one the country's best CIOs, led a discussion for VARs and solution providers dubbed, "Why Should I Buy Your IT Services and Do Business with YouA CIO Perspective."
During the talk on Aug. 3, Kushar explained his philosophy and how he has dealt with VARs for the past 11 years with Ernest & Gallo.
Kushar explained that he looks at six different points when he considers a VAR. Those include leadership, strategy, integrity, relationship, location and talent. As for products, he considers functionality, service level, ease of use, price, perceived value and experience.
On a scale, Kushar then adds up how he thinks the VAR and solution work and will compare that number to how the VAR thinks of himself or herself.
Kushar also offered some practical advice about approaching his staff with a solution.
Kushar looks for concise research articles that can be summed up in a one-on-one conversation. He also likes to travel to conferences and see what VARs can offer in an environment that is not specifically a sales meeting.
He also pushes his staff to attend these conferences to gauge trends in the market place.
He does not respond well to unsolicited e-mails and gifts that come to him in the mail. For example, a solution provider recently sent him three golf clubs in the mail and his company already had a five-year relationship with the VAR.
Those clubs made him rethink his relationship with the VAR since it appears the two were "not on the same page."
Kushar also told the audience that his job had changed in fundamental ways since he began. He now works more on innovation for the company, while his staff looks into solutions.
Terry Dale, a project manager for DecisionOne, a technology service company in Charlotte, N.C., stayed through the entire discussion and said he wanted to change the way he did business.
Specifically, Dale wanted to improve the way his company presents his leadership skills and long-term strategy. He also wants to do more to build trust with clients as Kushar described.
"I thought it was excellent," Dale said of Kushar's discussion. "It's not often that you have a candid conversation with a prominent CIO and hear about how he goes about selecting his partners and the important factors that he will look at during that process."