Reflecting on competitiveness in the IT services sector

Robustness in the IT services industry is good for all, says Nkgwete IT Solutions chief executive Siddika Osman

The word “partnership” is white noise in the brutally competitive IT services sector.

One hears all the time of businesses driven by partnerships, with many, if not most, information technology service providers claiming that partnerships live at the heart of their businesses; that they partner with clients and that they seek, and find, growth-fuelling partnerships. 

The truth is that procurement officers appoint service providers on the basis of precision in response to scope, and on cost. Track record plays a good role, too, as do empowerment credentials. But after that, partnership claims are taken for granted.

The sector is aligned to developing a capable, services-oriented, innovative and tireless corps of professionals to implement and manage the systems that keep business and the public sector thriving. Most seek service solutions that meet the exacting and unique requirements of an economy that’s serving both developing and developed South African communities. All players claim to be innovators. All are proud of being early adopters. Most invest in robust sector and national economic growth.

The lucrative promise of emerging opportunities lures the entire IT consulting sector as South Africa’s status as gateway to the rest of the continent grows.

The myriad of businesses in this sector are partners in maintaining sector health because a strong, thriving IT services sector is good for the individual, competitor businesses. It’s here that partnership really matters: in the apparent incongruity of competitor-partners.

Competition is the hallmark of a thriving industry. It proves the sector is abuzz with movers, shakers and businesses hungry to deliver, and deliver well. 

A thriving and competitive IT services sector is good for the corps of service providers competing for the share of contracts. It’s good for the businesses and public services entities awarding those contracts. And it’s good for the thousands of people who have chosen to build their professional lives in IT services.

We have much in common. We compete, and we sometimes compete fiercely. Yet we’re united in our need for a sturdy sector foundation on which to build our businesses, and the future of the wider IT services sector. It’s a facet of partnership we are all invested in. And rightly so.