The Winners! A Genpact Hat Trick; Plus, COVID, Ecosystem, and Drug Alliances Earn Excellence Awards

Posted By: Jon Lavietes Alliance Excellence Award,

Last week, the alliance community found out which companies exemplified the best of the best in alliance management as ASAP unveiled this year’s Alliance Excellence Award winners. In a ceremony emceed by the chairman of the awards selection committee, Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, professor of management studies at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, ASAP recognized two pharmaceutical industry fixtures for combining to take on the world’s biggest health crisis in memory, another biopharma alliance’s decade of multifaceted growth, a consulting firm’s strides in building an ecosystem-driven alliance practice, and a single independent software vendor (ISV) in not one but three categories.

Without further ado, here are the companies that were immortalized with individual 2022 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards and the categories under which they earned their honors: 

  • Individual Alliance Excellence (Emerging Alliance): Deloitte-Genpact
  • Individual Alliance Excellence (Long-standing Alliance): Evotec-Bayer
  • Innovative Best Alliance Practice: Genpact
  • Alliance Program Excellence: Protiviti
  • Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility: The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson–Merck
  • Best Ecosystem Solution: Deloitte-Genpact–OneSource Virtual–Workday

Good Things Come in Threes

Genpact’s Joint Offering Innovation (JOIN) methodology, the tool that netted the business services firm recognition for Innovative Best Alliance Practice, was used to evaluate and ultimately approve GenOne, the Finance-as-a-Service (FaaS) offering recognized as the Best Ecosystem Solution over the previous year. JOIN and GenOne are two standout illustrations of the Deloitte-Genpact alliance’s larger joint marketing and sales success over the last two years, according to de Man—the partnership was a runner-up in the same category two years ago.

“I want to stress the word ‘joint,’” said de Man, alluding to the close collaboration required by these two organizations to achieve early client growth across several vertical markets.

Scott Van Valkenburgh, CSAP, senior vice president of global alliances and channels leader at Genpact, said a lot has taken place behind the scenes to instill collaborative capabilities within his company over the past five years—he likened the hard work of implementing the infrastructure of an alliance practice to “sprinting in the marathon.” However, he also counts himself “very fortunate to have fantastic sponsorship” from Genpact’s senior leadership team, including the CEO and board, who have supported a program built on the “three Rs”: 1) reach, 2) relevance, and 3) revenue growth. And when it came to soft skills, Van Valkenburgh also placed an emphasis on the “three Cs”—connection, caring, and culture. 

Deloitte, the largest services firm in the world, views its larger business strategy in three broad categories: 1) advise, 2) implement, and 3) operate.

“We see Genpact as a very, very critical piece of our strategy in the ‘operate’ portion of our business,” said Glen Rodrigues, principal at Deloitte. Rodrigues credited two broad principles for the alliance’s quick success: 1) an open and frank dialogue at the top levels to address high-level issues that arise and 2) a deep understanding of each other’s culture and priorities. 

Feedback Loop: Bayer and Evotec Give to and Get from the ASAP Community

Bayer and Evotec began with a collaboration around an endometriosis drug candidate in 2012. The companies performed a lot of due diligence, including gathering best practices from ASAP, to ensure that the alliance got off on the right track and stayed the course.

“We learned a lot from the [ASAP] community initially,” said Christoph Huwe, CSAP, PhD, director of strategic alliance management at Bayer. 

The partner teams found their own twist on several tried-and-true practices and eventually replicated them as they expanded the partnership into other disease areas—it now has high-functioning projects around renal, cardiovascular, and ovarian therapies.

The companies have reciprocated the ASAP community by sharing their learnings at ASAP conferences over the years. The act of preparing these presentations has been as educational for Bayer and Evotec as it has for conference attendees.

“That was also a way of just paying back,” said Huwe. “I always very much like the feedback that you get [at conferences]. It forces you to think it through—really consider why have we done it, where is there room for improvement. Then you get great feedback from this unique community we have here.”

“When we had this early success, we felt it was important to communicate that, not just from a delivery perspective, but how we established a working relationship, how we managed to put together the best practices,” said Steve Courtney, PhD, executive vice president of strategic alliance management at Evotec. “It had a major impact on how [the] two partners worked together.…Sharing that is important from our learning perspective.”

“That is what ASAP is about: learning by sharing,” concurred de Man.  

A Marriage of Customer Convenience

Like Genpact, Protiviti didn’t have a formal alliance function until a few years ago, and its partnering efforts have come a long way in a relatively short time. Its ecosystem approach to alliances is what persuaded the awards committee to bestow the Alliance Program Excellence trophy on the firm. Where bilateral alliances tend to be focused on individual initiatives and point solutions, ecosystems require “systems thinking” to “solve more complex problems,” according to Chris White, an ecosystem marketing manager at Protiviti. With Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions disrupting the landscape, increasingly sophisticated solutions are required.

Protiviti works backward from the client’s broader objective and assembles a group of vendors from its partner base that it deems most likely to have the technology and culture to meet a particular customer’s need.

“We purposely work with multiple partners. We look at what our practice members are seeing out in the field and say, ‘Here are the problems that need to be solved,’” said White. “Now, let’s look at our different alliances and see where we can marry multiple alliance partners together and say, ‘Let’s work together to build this new solution and solve this new problem.’”

Parallel Universe: Janssen and Merck Work Together at Warp Speed

No recap of the most impactful collaborations of 2021 could leave out the partnerships that helped overcome the worst of the pandemic by bringing COVID-19 vaccines to market. A supply chain alliance between The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Merck saw the latter help manufacture the former’s vaccine at “warp speed.”

“Moving at warp speed takes risks,” explained Leigh Cherry, vice president of strategic business support at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and a 30-year pharmaceutical supply chain veteran. “Generally, in an alliance, things happen in series. You wait for results of whatever it is you’re doing, then you move on to the next step. In this particular case, it took running in parallel.” 

With the pressure on and things moving as fast as one might ever experience in a corporate setting, how did these companies pull off such a complex initiative without the benefit of in-person interaction? Cherry credited the compatible patient-first corporate cultures of the two organizations, familiarity and trust bred from previous successful joint initiatives, and “a digital collaboration ecosystem…which really enabled fast communication, faster problem-solving.”  

Three Pillars Support Us All

ASAP president and CEO Michael Leonetti congratulated all of this year’s winners after noting that they are the culmination of the association’s three main pillars: 1) knowledge and resources, 2) events and community, 3) and executive education.

“The bottom line is, it’s people like you and people like our alliance award winners who make it all come together,” he said.

Keep your eye on ASAP’s Strategic Alliance Monthly this spring and summer for more in-depth explorations of some of these award winners.