At SAP it seems that we are "relatively good" at building relationships with IT folks and CIOS. We are less good at building relationships with the people outside of IT -people who aren't that interested in SOA, but are concerned with running a part of the business. We'd like to fix this.
For a couple of years now, we have successfully built up the financials best practice network. in EMEA. It works well, senior finance people from some very significant companies meet to discuss pressing finance and business related issues on a regular basis, and get value out of it. I recently ran a session on risk and compliance for the network. (Juergen Daum, one of my colleagues, has an interesting website for those interested in the future of the finance function)
Some people like Sig are sceptical about best practice I'm not. For most of what companies do, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Looking at what other people have done is one of the best ways to learn and innovate. (Isaac Newton thought so anyway) It also balances out. Perhaps one company is ahead in shared services deployment, another has better treasury management.
I have been asked to build up a similar network for HR execs. This kicks off next month, just after the World Cup. (afternoon July 10- full day 11th) There are some interesting HR folks presenting, including Zurich Financial Services, AtosOrigin, JTI, HBOS, SAP's own HR. We have chosen Talent Management as the broad theme, and later in the year there will be a Chief HR Officer session in Brussels looking at employee engagement and sustainablity, as well as a best practice meeting in Nice looking at HR service models and BPO.
If you are interested in finding out more either check out the site here, or mail me if you are an HR person interested in attending.