Like Mickey’s brooms in the film “Fantasia,” the Internet of Things has multiplied into a labyrinth of complexity accompanied by its companion—disruption. “As disruptive technology takes hold, companies not used to partnering together are forced to do so, and it’s up to alliance managers to forge these alliances as leaders and define the swim lanes between companies,” said Tony DeSpirito, vice president of global alliances at Schneider Electric during the session on “Transforming Partnering Post Disruption” at the 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA.
“The greatest challenge we are facing right now as we look forward strategically is issues around the Internet of Things—I’m talking about control systems that operate in the infrastructure. It’s forcing Schneider to partner with different companies we’re not used to. We are being forced to partner with folks that own the digital world. For us, every day, it’s how do we connect the physical world with the digital world? How do we connect Schneider Electric with IBM?” he concluded.
For the company worth $30 billion (US) and its 15-person global alliance team, it’s a major puzzle. “Alliance is not core to the strategy of Schneider,” he admits, but digital disruption has forced the company to add an alliance manager to the corporate executive committee.
Schneider’s challenge points out a critical alliance question: How do we lead with a velocity of change that is happening at such a rate that is not business as usual? asks Lorin Coles, CSAP and CEO of the consulting and training company Alliancesphere. “Not doing anything is not acceptable. Companies like IBM are reorganizing from top to bottom. Other companies are trying to change customer buying behavior. If we can solve this customer problem, then the ecosystems and partners support that.”
“Don’t be afraid. Embrace the change,” chimed in Laura Voglino, general manager of IBM’s ecosystems and social business, who has experienced major disruption and transition at IBM. “It will take you to great things on a personal level because it keeps you vital and great for your companies and in the market.”
IBM changed the whole cloud structure with a huge focus and substantial team, she explains. “What really caught us by surprise was the velocity of the transformation and adoption.”
More than 90 percent of budgets in data centers are being put into cloud, she adds. The buying behavior of clients is changing, and there is a much greater focus on developers. “We needed to change our view of partnership to catch those cloud developers. We needed to open the scope to have venture capitalists. We needed to work with startups. These guys are bringing a lot of innovation that our clients are very thirsty for. Every time we think of alliances we think of Apple and IBM. But there’s a different level, a different dynamic. We just announced Citibank and IBM partnering, going to the market to activate developers to serve Citibank. This is a different system.”
We needed to get people enthusiastic about the start-up guys, ask what the vision is, and ask how to break the inertia of the immediate results. “Inertia is the worst enemy. When you have disruption, the worse you do during disruption time, the better it is to change,” she concludes.
With the Internet of Things, if you don’t get revenue, look at the activity or pipeline. And if you don’t have that, then look at lighthouse accounts—those accounts that will bring you revenue in 2016-2018. “It’s incumbent upon us to stand up and show true leadership. As alliance managers, to be leaders you need to say 100 times to the same people, you will see revenue!” says DeSpirito. “We don’t need to be the fastest bear. The winner of the Internet of Things is a group of kids in China that developed a remote control way to control forest fires. All of the innovation we are talking about is API [Application Programming Interface].”