Group Codifies IT Maintenance Consumer Rights

A council of global IT CIOs, in conjunction with research group Gartner Inc., has released a "code of conduct" for solution vendors on IT maintenance issues.

The Gartner Global IT Council for IT Maintenance released the report this week, defining seven critical issues in hardware and software maintenance. The report defines a set of "consumer rights" that address each issue.

"The council represents the voice of some very large customers," said David Cappuccio, vice president and chief of research for infrastructure at Gartner, in a telephone interview. "I suspect that large vendors will want to listen to what they [the council] are saying, given the size and depth of the market."

According to Gartner, hardware and software maintenance represent a significant IT expense for many enterprises, and it is a major source of revenue for vendors such as Microsoft, Dell and HP.

"Both the vendors and the customers have a lot at stake, so it just makes sense that we identify some best practices for doing  business," said Cappuccio.

The council is made up of chief information officers (CIOs) and CIO equivalents from leading companies around the world. It includes representatives from Lowe's Companies, McGraw-Hill, Lukoil (Russia), Bell Helicopter, Tata Motors (India), Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bank of Canada and others.

IT maintenance is the topic of a second report of recommendations issued by the council. The first focused on cloud services.

Cappuccio said that the council initially identified more than 35 issues concerning IT maintenance and then concentrated on the top seven. The seven basic rights of the consumer address issues ranging from predictable software updates and vendor response times to the right to end or change a support contract for products that are not in use.

"We realize that not all vendors are going to adopt these rights to the letter, but this will serve as a starting point for critical vendor-customer communications," said Cappuccio. "We also realize that some of these rights may interfere with certain vendors' business agendas and competitive strategies.

"The point is we now have some talking points, and if some of the larger vendors adopt some of these policies, or even come up with their own, we will have a better set of business practices regarding hardware and software maintenance."

Gartner is currently circulating the code of conduct to IT vendors, and it is available for free here.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.