Alliance Leaders Are Optimizing Ecosystems Today, Ruling Companies Tomorrow

Posted By: Jon Lavietes Global Alliance Summit, Member Resources,

It’s an ecosystem world, and we are all living in it—and have been for some time now. It’s not a news flash that subscriptions underpin current financial models and managed services are the emerging delivery method, nor will any programs be interrupted to tell you that it often takes four or more partners to market, sell, and deliver solutions, or that the ecosystem players have to account for more than 20 customer/prospect touchpoints in sealing a deal.  

So the question becomes, “What do you do about it?” said Janet Schijns, CEO and cofounder of JSG, an ecosystem go-to-market acceleration firm. This spring, Schijns will answer the question in earnest in her 2024 ASAP Global Alliance Summit keynote address, tentatively titled “Orchestrating Success: The Art and Science of Leading Profitable Partner Ecosystems.” 

Marketing Drives Marketplace Activity

Bringing insights from her consultancy’s client engagements—according to Schijns, JSG’s clients were in the top 10 percent in revenue growth in their respective horizontal technology market segments (e.g., cybersecurity, networking, collaboration, cloud, etc.) in 2023—Schijns plans to take attendees through what works and what doesn’t, and divulge some new and innovative but proven practices for excelling in this new partnering landscape. She will also explain how even the most seasoned alliance professionals can embrace marketplaces and other emerging routes to market for a winning game plan, as these new pathways gain in popularity and revenue share.     

“How do you craft something that doesn’t hurt your partners, but lets customers buy from their provider of choice?” she said. “What are the changes that you need to make in your go-to-market [strategy vis-à-vis] marketing and sales to attack this new multipartnership dynamic without escalating your cost of sales beyond an acceptable level, and how do you move beyond press releases and partnerships on paper to partnerships that deliver true commercial success?”

Often, the answers lie somewhere unexpected—in your marketing plans.  

In the past, marketing, often referred to as “arts and crafts,” wasn’t seen as critical to activating partnerships. Now, marketing is driving as much new business or more than most sales teams, which places the onus on companies selling technology solutions and services to make their marketing plans truly count. Schijns will show attendees “how people are using marketing to propel partner leads forward and to get revenue and sales—what’s working and what’s not working—and how to apply that approach to your go-to-market.” 

Ecosystem Success by the Half Dozen

And of course, in an ecosystem model, it can be challenging to balance the interests of a half dozen players, give or take, in each deal. Schijns will also speak to the inner workings of ecosystem plays and offer tips and suggested rules of engagement for multiparty coalitions. 

“What does the sales model look like when you have multiple partners? How do you manage, control, and govern that? How do you handle conflict?” said Schijns. “How do you get all seven partners to support you and your solution? And perhaps most importantly, is that an affordable and scalable growth model?”

CRO: Channel Reorganization Officer? 

In addition, Schijns will reveal results of a JSG study on employment trends among channel executives—the firm recently finished collecting data from all corners of the tech industry and will spend the time between now and the Summit extrapolating conclusions. Then there’s the rise of the chief revenue officer (CRO), to whom many alliance senior vice presidents and vice presidents report. It behooves partnering and channel professionals to know what this increasingly influential member of the C-suite values most today. 

“Everybody is grappling with how they are going to deal with the CRO. I’m hearing a lot of noise around defending the channel, defending alliances,” said Schijns. “The CRO comes in and combines sales, marketing, and everything together and has control over all the market motions. What’s the impact? The savvy ecosystem professionals are aligning themselves to the CRO’s goals while still protecting the sanctity of their partner strategy,” says Schijns.

Ecosystem-Trained CEOs to Lead Partnership Companies

Ecosystem leaders should feel confident in their ability to hang with the CRO or any other member of the C-suite in conversations about the overall direction of their respective organizations. Where last decade we saw all companies start to become tech companies, over the course of the current one, Schijns expects many organizations to transform into “partnership companies,” and the best alliance professionals will become equal peers to those CROs. 

“The next CEOs will come from the partnership organizations because partnering has become that critical to most companies’ success,” said Schijns.

The 2024 ASAP Global Alliance Summit will take place in Cape Coral, Fla., April 29 to May 1. Schijns’s keynote will help kick off the first full day of presentations on April 30. Register today to learn how to thrive in the ecosystem model that predominates the modern-day tech-industry landscape.