June 16, 2020 | Matt Stava | CEO

The Challenges of an Unprecedented Global Economy

Like most CEOs, I’ve never experienced a time like this. The pandemic has devastated the business world, leaving in its wake travel bans, record low oil prices, plummeting auto sales, mass retail closures, and millions of terminated or furloughed workers. Enterprises are hunkered down, with the remaining employees working remotely and finance leaders looking at every option available to strengthen the balance sheet and survive through the end of the calendar year.

Many of the companies I speak with tell me that a full recovery could be years away. More than ever, this unique moment is forcing them to perform a precarious balancing act regarding their IT investments. No one ever expected to have to choose between short-term concessions, like IT staff reductions, and the long-term needs of the business, such as ERP upgrades and platform migrations.

Thankfully, recent indicators suggest that economic conditions seem to be stabilizing or improving. One silver lining to this cloudy business environment is that enterprises are discovering that the service vendors they already know are just as committed to client success as they have always been. These same companies that speak openly to me of their financial and operational challenges are also opening up to fresh ideas from IT service providers they already trust.

How Vendor Partnerships Make a Difference to Clients

First, some context. My company, Spinnaker Support, was purpose-built for the best of times and the worst of crises. Since our inception in 2008, we have delivered reliable, cost-effective, and comprehensive third-party support services. Through ISO-certified processes, a global network of professional engineers, and a business model centered on remote assistance, we provide 24/7 services with no disruption in quality or responsiveness. We are one less worry for our clients to deal with during the ongoing economic downturn.

These benefits extend beyond our own client base; they make a substantial difference to the operations of our business partners’ clients as well. We’ve recently partnered with IBM to provide the same reliable support services to their enterprise application clients across the world. Together with IBM, we’re helping these global companies to keep their valuable enterprise software investments running at peak performance. The cost savings we enable are often redirected to IBM Technology Support Services (TSS) projects that help clients innovate.

While originally conceived to help IBM clients improve OEM spend efficiency and achieve a superior support experience, the partnership has taken on new strength in the current crisis. The combination of our two companies’ robust and steadfast services allows our joint clients to operate as normal and refocus away to more strategic IT issues. I’ll share an example of what this looks like.

Case Study: High-Quality IT Service at The Right Cost

Earlier this year, IBM collaborated with a credit reporting and analytics agency on a major project to support a migration from legacy, on-premise financial and reporting software to more modern, SaaS-based financial and reporting application. Even as the business downturn escalated, the client moved ahead with the migration, which was critical for their ongoing business strategy of trimming their IT budget.

In addition to receiving improved functionality, the client also wanted IBM’s guidance in how to defray additional costs. The client had originally planned to remain on the legacy proprietary software publisher’s support services until the migration was complete, but IBM knew that Spinnaker Support could be the lower-cost replacement solution they needed. The IBM team presented the concept of third-party support, outlining the benefits and differences in the support models.

The client quickly determined that Spinnaker Support was a good fit – to provide comprehensive support and reduced maintenance fees until completion of the migration. Post-migration, Spinnaker Support will support the client’s read-only environment for 5-6 years, mainly for auditing purposes. Spinnaker Support could do that, offering support for as long as the legacy system was in service. So while the immediate cost savings were attractive, the fact that support expenses would remain low for five or more years was even more impressive. The client was also energized by the idea of offloading support of the legacy system so that their existing staff could upskill and learn their new financial and reporting systems.

IBM recently launched the migration project, and the client is pleased with the seamless coordination between IBM and Spinnaker Support. The client has confidence in the value of the creative solution and in Spinnaker Support’s stability, team knowledge, and depth of experience with supporting large enterprises. IBM also arranged for flexible commercial terms to help the client improve cash flow while mitigating the effects of the economic downturn. The cost relief is welcome, as is the trust engendered by a truly collaborative partnership.

My colleague at IBM has shared her overview of the above case study. Juhi McClelland, General Manager of IBM TSS North America, adds, “To meet the shifting needs of our client, we had to be flexible. Business is being impacted everywhere, especially when it comes to maintaining cash flow. By moving them off of their legacy SW support to Spinnaker & IBM Support for Third-Party Proprietary Software, we were able to save this customer over 50% in hard cost savings in year one, as well as deliver a support model that meets their needs while they migrate to a new platform and beyond. A big win for our client!”

The Advantage of Partnerships in Extraordinary Times

As great companies face challenges that were inconceivable just a few months ago, they must be exceedingly careful in how they plan for the future. Cost-cutting alone will be insufficient to sustain or maintain growth. In the case study above, the IBM client realized immediate cost relief from IT services delivered by trusted, stable partners. It will continue to see savings and responsive support for the long term.

This is not a unique story. Since Spinnaker Support became an IBM Technology Support Services (TSS) partner, our two companies have teamed to help large, recognized enterprises and public sector entities innovate, migrate, optimize IT costs, and improve cash flow. Some common clients include:

  • A U.K.-based bank serving 19 million clients across the globe.
  • A Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer, one of the largest companies in the world.
  • A leading multi-national consumer electrical and mobile retailer and service company.
  • A U.S.-based state government department that finances and administers individual health care service delivery programs.
  • A global technology company that develops safer, greener, and more connected solutions enabling the future of mobility.

As CEO, I am proud to be part of IBM’s TSS offerings, delivering world-class enterprise software support solutions on their behalf. If you’re an IBM client, I invite you to reach out to your IBM team to begin a discussion around your IT service and support needs. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions, with vendors you know and trust.