Of Villages, Flywheels, and Ecosystems

Posted By: Michael Burke Global Alliance Summit,

Cherie Gartner, senior vice president of go-to-market strategy and global head of strategic alliances at PTC, titled her plenary address today “How Do You Build Collaborative Partnership Strategies Linked to a Digital Thread GTM Strategy?”

Many of the tech partnering folks in the audience probably got the “thread” of this topic right away, but some from other verticals might have wondered, “What does it all mean?”

It’s a tale of a village, a flywheel, and an ecosystem, and how they all must be mobilized to move a needle.

The Two Gartners

Gartner’s high energy was bright and cheerful—much appreciated right before lunch—and she did two great things: she asked questions and “broke down the silos” by making the various tables into breakout groups to discuss; and she provided the “Gartner definition” of “digital thread” for those who were unsure.

No, not the “Cherie Gartner definition”—that would be Gartner the research firm.

According to both Gartners, boiled down, a digital thread is an information network that eliminates silos of information to get a product or system through its service life. It also provides manufacturers with a data infrastructure that is connected and optimized in order to help them make decisions.

Boiled down even further, a digital thread go-to-market strategy seeks to solve for the question: “Where is the customer at? What journey are they on?” said Gartner.

Take It from the Top

In order to achieve success in this effort, everyone needs to understand the vision and be able to execute on it by pulling in the same direction. And it starts at the top of an organization.

“Leadership absolutely matters,” she said. “The tone at the top is critical.” In fact, in cases where executive leadership showed a limited understanding of or commitment to these efforts, 61 percent missed expectations. And another slide Gartner presented showed that two thirds of siloed initiatives fail to show ROI.

What does this mean for alliance and partnering professionals? In order to drive ecosystem impact, you’re going to need to influence the C-suite. Or as one participant in the session put it, “It’s informing upward, action downward.”

Neither a digital thread nor a go-to-market strategy is a panacea, however. Among the challenges of the former are:

  • Feature and function gaps
  • Cost of integration
  • Lack of talent for implementation

On the latter, Gartner noted, “A go-to-market strategy should not be seen as a quick fix.” It’s a coordinated effort that takes time and involves not only alliances but marketing, sales, and other functions. That effort means you’ve got to “mobilize the village” in order to get the “flywheel effect” in motion, a term Gartner took from the Jim Collins business classic Good to Great.

Needle in a Tech Stack

One participant cautioned that careful monitoring and management are necessary, since “As the flywheel spins, if it gets off balance, it could be dangerous—somebody could fall off the bus.”

Another noted that ASAP’s member community itself represents a kind of growing ecosystem, as well as “living proof of the flywheel effect.”

In summation, Gartner provided four key elements or pieces of advice for this digital thread, go-to-market effort:

  • It takes a village—so mobilize it
  • Activate the flywheel and keep it moving
  • Optimize routes to market and value creation
  • Enhance a best-in-class customer experience

“I want all of us to take advantage of these to really move the needle in our ecosystems,” she concluded.