As the saying goes, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. The lesson holds true for a company's reliance on vendor support. Teach a firm to mature with its platforms and you empower it to make its own progress.
Paul McPhater, head of professional services for Markit Enterprise Data Management (EDM), advocates taking the time to show clients how to use and mature with their data platforms. Using certification programs developed by senior consultants, the data platform vendor has built a community of certified developers. From 2012 to 2013, participation in the introductory certification course doubled, with the number of participants reaching over 400 this year. Markit EDM also has 878 members of its Online Group in LinkedIn as well as hundreds in the exam certified groups.
Organizations are trying to do a lot all at the same time, explains McPhater. There are pressing needs around the business to make products, increase clients, update systems, and pressure from regulations and governments. "What we can provide is as much professional service as they need. If clients want to complete major initiatives at the same time they may need extra help from us. But our model is to help just as much as they need… We have backed up that model with certification program around our software. It's the same certification for employees, partners and clients. That allows us to have quality around how we implement software. And that allows clients to invest in their own people, which is always a good sign."
Training programs have helped clients take on new and different nuances, with the flexibility to handle challenges. He likens the training to the launch of an oil tanker: "If we can get ship in the right direction at the start, the chances of it going off course is limited."
[For more on collaboration of vendor projects, read User Groups Help Guide Vendor Roadmap]
Markit EDM has a range of clients from smaller organizations to financial services industry giant HSBC, and recently added Northern Trust to their list. Each will have a different approach to challenges, with some wanting control over certain aspects or all. As McPhater explain, "I think more and more whether it's client on-boarding or regulations in terms of Solvency II or Basel III, clients are hit with bigger problems around big data and collecting that data. Having a mechanism to centralize and store is just critical to what they are doing."
"Clients are looking for guidance on best practices within Markit," he adds. They also want to know what are other people doing, so in the spirit of collaboration Markit EDM encourages clients to speak to each other, either internationally or in a regional base. "We bring appropriate people together to talk over the issues. We just want people talking, a lot of organizations are on similar journeys and encountering the same solutions."
Markit is using private groups on LinkedIn to bring certified users together. Those groups keep up discussions, talk about issues, how to solve them, and best practice of governance.
Not Quite Yet
The "learn to fish" philosophy is becoming a popular option among Markit's client base but the vendor understands some firms aren't ready to loosen their grip.
In these scenarios it is likely a firm has too much going on, with business strategy pushing in several directions, and prefers to hold off on certification. Another influence is geography. Comparatively, companies in Asia are looking for more help from vendors, and there is an expectation to provide more support, although McPhater adds eventually they are able to use and support systems themselves.