What makes a great partnership at the enterprise level?

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CIO in Finance (non-banking), 51 - 200 employees
I always think about where you are in the life cycle of a company. In the startup phase, there are a set of vendors that I know will get us to a certain point. Whatever your KPI is, as you grow there's an inflection point at the business and then you out-scale some of those vendors. You tell them, "I need to get this Mac delivered to China by tomorrow, can you do it?" But they're looking at you with their hands in the air. You need vendors who can take it one step further to the enterprise level.

The initial vendors helped set up our foundation and got us out of the trenches, but now we have to really operationalize. We need to get keen on KPIs like ticket closure and delivery times again because we're scaling, so no one can have not a laptop. Some folks are great when you're still scrappy but then, once you start getting big and regulated, you need to have more rigor. And there are just different companies that you will ask for help when you get to that point.
Partner in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
You want to work with the partners who are going to be with you through thick and thin. That sounds aspirational and overly humanistic, but the reality is we are all humans trying to build good relationships. The last year is really where things came to a halt. I know there were several top 10 SaaS companies that received calls from the CxOs of their customers saying, "We need to renegotiate. I need forgiveness on the renewal, and I need your assistance. You can either get 60% of something, or 100% of nothing.” It wasn't adversarial, they just said, "The world is upside down and I need to survive as a business so I'm looking for the right partnerships."

I was in a renewal conversation where the renewal of that company went down. You could argue there was a vested interest, but we didn't want to lose the logo as it would affect our investment numbers, etc. It’s not an easy conversation to have. We were very cognizant of the fact that it wasn't a fully valued product and we could do without it for 1-2 years, but they were willing to accept a much lower aspect. That showed a level of partnership and maturity from the company that benefited them well.
Former Chief Technology and People Officer in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
There's two sides to this story for tech CIOs, because we all have worked for companies that maybe haven't always been the best partners. For example, with conversations about forgiving or reducing renewals, or renegotiations, I have an empathetic perspective because I see both sides. I’ve spent a lot of time on behalf of my companies with customers that were having problems. I think that perspective enhances the partner relationship, because even if that particular technology partner is not a customer of yours, they're guaranteed to overlap in certain places. We all know that we need to strive to be better partners.
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Partner in Software, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

When I was a CIO of multiple companies, speaking to customers was one aspect of my role. I was a vendor to them in some cases, but we've also managed a set of vendors. If we think about the larger partnerships that evolve from a CIO relationship, they typically reside in the larger investments that we make in SaaS companies or other vendors we put in place. In some cases it’s the large providers like the AWSs of this world. In other cases it’s smaller companies, like when I sat on the Salesforce CIO Advisory Board. I considered them a major partner to our company, therefore partnerships were built.

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