NBA Q&A: John Jeffcock, Winmark
John Jeffcock is Chief Executive of Winmark, the European leader in network management. His organisation has been chosen as a finalist in the BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year category at the 2014 National Business Awards; as part of Outsource‘s partnership with the NBAs, we got together with the finalists for this award to ask them a few questions about their activities and the changing nature of partnership and collaboration in a rapidly evolving business environment…
Outsource: In the words of the organisers, “The winner of this award will be the organisation that has best helped client or partner businesses to increase profitability by improving efficiency, develop talent or implement innovation.” How do you think your organisation has managed to do any one of these things to the extent that it has been shortlisted?
John Jeffcock: Increase profitability: we connect people through our networks and recently saved a FTSE 100 £3m in their annual professional service spend. That would have all gone into profit.
Improve efficiency: we have actually written a best practice guide on process efficiency and how to improve it. We have shared this guide with our 2,500 CxO members.
Implement innovation: we share around 400 innovative case studies a year with members across our 14 networks. The case studies challenge thinking and present new ways of approaching issues.
O: When a buy-side organisation engages with a supplier, how far do you think it transfers responsibility for innovation?
JJ: Like risk, entirely outsourcing innovation is a mistake and in our view reflects negligent management. Organisations must be in their own innovation driving seat and hold the ultimate responsibility. However, they can outsource both specified and implied innovation, as explained below:
Specified Innovation Responsibility. This is where the buyer tasks a certain organisation to improve/innovate and/or present ideas on how to do something better or faster. Interestingly, we find that large organisations often only have the capacity to implement a percentage of the innovations put forward, and some suppliers who do not understand the reasons for this and can feel disappointed.
Implied Innovation Responsibility. This is the key area often overlooked by buyers, where suppliers if they knew more about the client business could add substantially more value through innovation, much of which could be free. For example if the buyers share their objectives, the suppliers can become an extra team looking to help achieve them. For example, only today we found and introduced a major client to a member of our Global CEO network; we could only do this because we knew what the CEO was trying to achieve.
O: Do you think the very definition of partnership, in a business sense, is evolving and if so how?
JJ: Yes, and the reason is that clients want more from their suppliers in terms of insights, knowledge, innovation, resource, value etc. They recognise to achieve this they need to:
- work closer with fewer suppliers
- spend more time assessing and selecting suppliers
- embed the suppliers deeper into their organisations
- be more intelligent in their briefings and communications.
The impact of this has several elements:
- If you are good at what you do, this is great news, if not you will slowly be squeezed out by the preferred suppliers.
- The only caveat we would put on this is some buyers just decide to change, not because they are not happy but rather because they feel they should just try something new. The reality is that this is probably a hunt for innovation.
- The other major impact most suppliers complain about is that the cost of pitching has increased substantially and increasingly suppliers are deselecting themselves if they do not feel they have a higher chance rate.
As a result of this, the relationships are evolving; they are becoming closer, more productive and importantly more enjoyable.
O: What’s your definition of the perfect client?
JJ: We think our perfect client is a ‘difficult client’. They get better value for money because they demand more, which in turn helps us to maintain and drive up quality standards.
Demanding clients also force innovation and creativity, pushing us to find new ways of doing things. They force us to find new ways of doing things.
These clients give open and honest feedback which, in turn, allows us to constantly learn and develops – I think this gives us a dynamic edge and keeps us competitive.
As part of our alliance with the National Business Awards, Outsource has conducted a series of interviews with finalists for the BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year award. These interviews, comprising responses to a series of set questions, are NOT the result of a commercial relationship between Outsource and any of the finalist organisations. For more information on this please contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org