European CIOs put decent service ahead of innovation

Software makers should stop pushing innovations on users and focus instead on providing better after-sales service, European CIOs said at a conference in Brussels last week.

          Software makers should stop pushing innovations on users and focus instead on providing better after-sales service, European CIOs said at a conference in Brussels last week.

          "Vendors must change their business models," says Jacques Beer-Gabel, CIO of French banking group Societe General and vice president of French IT users association Cigref, which hosted the conference.

          "Their aim is to sell as many boxes as possible. While we welcome innovation, we just don't need products at this pace. We need bug-free, long-lasting equipment. Vendors have to get away from focusing on repeat purchases and work more on providing better after sales-service," Beer-Gabel says.

          In addition to debating the vendor-customer relationship, the CIOs gathered in Brussels also discussed issues that arise from mergers and takeovers, how IT should fit in with corporate strategy, and how best to integrate applications throughout companies.

          Some CIOs believe their role should focus solely on information, and that systems questions should be handled by chief technology officers. Others argued that the two things are inseparable.

          "There was no consensus on this," Beer-Gabel says.

          The CIOs present say they were very interested in the European antitrust case against Microsoft, but none say they had participated in the commission's investigation.

          "It is important for the commission to act," says Sebastieen Bachollet, deputy general manager of Cigref, but he adds: "It's not our role to point out problems. We need to push our position directly with providers such as Microsoft."

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