Press Release: IT Professionals Rate Their ‘Vital Vendors’ on Nemertes’ Trusted Advisor Scale

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August 12, 2014

IT Professionals Rate Their ‘Vital Vendors’ on Nemertes’ Trusted Advisor Scale 8 earn Enterprise Trusted Advisor™ ranking; 9 earn Midmarket Trusted Advisor™ ranking

NEW YORK – Nemertes Research today unveiled the results of its annual Enterprise Trusted Advisor™ and its new Midmarket Trusted Advisor™ study, which includes ratings from more than 1,000 IT professionals on vendors they consider vital to achieving their business and technology goals.

Only six providers – Cisco, HP, IBM, SAP, SAS, and Sprint – achieved trusted advisor status from both the midmarket (ratings from companies with fewer than 2,500 employees) and enterprise (2,500 or more employees) segments. Additionally, Microsoft and were named Enterprise Trusted Advisors™ only, and Oracle, Symantec, and T-Mobile were rated as Midmarket Trusted Advisors™ only.

“If you’re not deliberately establishing trusted-advisor relationships, you should start now,” says Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research. “Increasingly, IT leaders are focusing on how they can be both a consumer of trusted-advisor relationships from their vendors, and a provider of trusted-advisor relationships to their business units. Why? Because they find success on every measurable metric. These relationships take work, but they are well worth the effort.”

In the study, which included both live interviews and electronic surveys, each IT professional typically identified three to seven vendors or service providers as vital to their organizations. Nemertes then asked them to rate each provider on a 1- to 10-scale, where 1-3 represents a commodity player that offers commodity services at fair prices; 4-7 represents a strategic partner that is the go-to provider once the IT staff has developed a technology strategy; and 8-10 is a trusted advisor, which is involved in helping to set and usually execute on the strategy.

IT professionals provided additional, detailed insight on where their providers excel—and where they don’t. They rated each on the following characteristics of trusted advisors, and viewed expertise and credibility as the most important:

  • Credibility: Past performance was successful, solid referrals, good reputation, earned your respect. Provides value with measurable results. 
  • Expertise: Possesses expertise of, experience in, training on specific technologies, business issues, and/or industry. Knows your organization. 
  • Character: Honest, trustworthy, likeable, shared value system. Says what you need to hear vs. what you may want to hear. You trust their judgment. 
  • Contact management: Effectively proactive and reactive. Responds to your needs, concerns, and opportunities in agreed-upon timeframe. Proactively reaches out when needed; leaves you alone when not needed. 
  • Enlightenment: Forward-thinking, suggests initiatives, ideas you haven't.

“We have documented that providers who excel at these types of relationships have a significantly greater chance of winning business than those who do not,” Gareiss says. “We also found that IT teams that serve as trusted advisors to the business units have twice as high an IT budget as those in the commodity category.”

The vendors named as trusted advisors invest in their customers. For example, they will do more pre-sales work than is typical, or they may provide extra gear for testing. According to the findings, that pays off.

Nemertes asked IT professionals: “When a trusted advisor helps to develop a strategy for you, what percentage of the time do you go to RFP to execute on that strategy vs. immediately selecting the trusted advisor?” Fewer than half (45.9%) of such projects go to RFP. Moreover, when organizations do go to RFP, 56.2% award the business to the trusted advisor in the end, meaning the trusted advisors get 79.9% of the projects they help to develop.

IT leaders overwhelmingly view trusted advisors as both individuals and companies. Enterprise IT professionals who say they have trusted-advisor relationships cite an average of 3.7 individual trusted advisors per provider; midmarket IT professionals cite 2.2 trusted advisors per provider. The relationships are with a range of titles, but the most prevalent are the account executive (47.1%) and the C-level (43.7%) when all sizes of companies are considered. When isolating them, the C-level is the most-often cited for enterprises, while the account executive is most-often cited for midmarket organizations.

The matrixes plot the vendors in the appropriate segments (see graphic below):


  • Those with the highest percentage of ratings in the trusted-advisor range and fewest in the commodity range land in the top right Trusted Advisor segment. 
  • Those with the fewest trusted advisor and most commodity ratings land at the lower left in the Commodity Provider segment. Even though their customers do not rate them strategic partners or trusted advisors, they have identified these companies as vital to their achieving their business and/or technology goals. For example, a commodity supplier of phones or laptops may be crucial to a business’s success, though the IT leaders do not view that provider as strategic partner or a trusted advisor. 
  • Those on the top left (Strategic Partners) have the lowest number of trusted advisor and commodity ratings, having received relatively more strategic ratings (from 4-7). These are the providers most likely to receive a call right after a customer develops a strategy, if there’s no trusted advisor in place to handle that function or if the trusted advisor doesn’t offer the products or services required. 
  • Those on the bottom right (Potential Advisors) received many trusted-advisor ratings, but also relatively high percentages of commodity ratings. This group is best positioned to move into the Trusted Advisor segment if they can convert those who view them as commodity players into strategic partners or trusted advisors.

In addition to the trusted advisors already mentioned, the following vendors also received ratings in the study:









Comcast Business







For more information on the Enterprise Trusted Advisor™ or Midmarket Trusted Advisor™ research findings, please contact

About Nemertes Research

Nemertes Research is a research-advisory and strategic-consulting firm that specializes in analyzing and quantifying the business value of emerging technologies. You can learn more about Nemertes Research at our Website,

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