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Supplier-User Collaboration Requires More Than Advanced Technology—Alliance Management Is Needed, Too

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The World Economic Forum (WEF) issued a white paper this month calling for all players along the manufacturing chain to expedite the adoption of advanced digital technologies that enhance the collaborative supply chain. WEF has given the industry plenty of homework in the directives it detailed in the document:

  • Mine artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and machine learning technologies to reduce material consumption and increase resource efficiency
  • Utilize electronic labels, such as an integrated electronic display or a machine-readable code that links to a webpage (e.g., QR code), in order to foster the seamless movement of products across different regions that each have their own unique information and labeling requirements
  • Leverage digital twin technology to combat fraud
  • Use the potpourri of “it” technologies—blockchain, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), edge computing, predictive analytics, etc.—to increase supply chain network agility so that organizations don’t miss a beat when faced with natural disasters, new tariffs, social instability, equipment or infrastructure failure, or any other unforeseen events that can disrupt operations
  • Remanufacture, reduce, reuse, and recycle parts wherever possible

WEF’s report is dotted with success stories from household names, including Foxconn, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Apple, and General Motors.

Now, nobody’s disagreeing with WEF’s premise; there’s an urgency for component suppliers, assembly manufacturers, final-product producers, and users to adopt these technologies—those who don’t will perish. However, we were struck by the relative simplicity of the use cases put forth in WEF’s paper. This isn’t to say that the achievements of the aforementioned brands came easily or that they implemented these technologies handily, but the case studies consisted largely of linear one-to-one relationships.

In reality, many of the increasingly complex products and services that manufacturers are trying to deliver today depend on an ecosystem of multiple deeply intertwined partners. As Russ Buchanan, CSAP, vice president of global channel strategy alliances and operations at Xerox and ASAP’s chairman emeritus, noted in a recent discussion about sourcing in the new economy, there can be as many as five or six vendors delivering a single smart vehicle, heart monitor, or other interactive device. Each of these partners has its own large network of suppliers and subcontractors. That is a lot of moving parts!

With each of these players bringing an essential part of a solution, a collaborative supply chain needs more than just these wonderful technologies themselves to deliver transformative solutions.

“The sourcing community is definitely being very sophisticated in some cases in managing their suppliers like alliance partners,” said Buchanan. “Increasingly, I find that the people in sourcing need these [alliance management] skills. When they start to work with a supplier, they’re trying to get more than just the lowest possible cost of commodity, the primary mission of most sourcing agencies. Increasingly, what you hear us asking our suppliers for, and what we hear our customers asking us for is, ‘Do more than that. Give me good value, but also give me innovation. Help me change my business. Help my transformation be more competitive in enhancing my customers’ experience working with us.’”

There is a much deeper degree of codependency between alliance members working together to construct solutions of this nature than the average supplier in a company’s network. This interdependency makes it much harder to switch suppliers in the face of a political revolution, seven-on-the-Richter-Scale earthquake, or sudden tariff hike, even if your predictive analytics algorithm is recommending and providing the blueprint for a change. That digital twin will certainly help the partner ecosystem synthesize a voluminous amount of data into actionable direction on how to maintain and enhance physical assets, systems, and processes, but it won’t help you iron out disagreements between each partner over how to implement changes.

As the degree of mutual dependence increases in manufacturing partnerships, the less effective advanced digital technologies will be in enhancing collaboration without good old-fashioned “soft skills,” particularly those set forth in The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management. After all, conflict management, issues identification, and risk mitigation are integral parts of managing an alliance. Andrew Eibling, CSAP, vice president of business development and alliance management at Enable Injections, Inc., said it takes more backroom interaction to maintain a healthy relationship once you make the leap from run-of-the-mill supplier to strategic ally—or “Vegas-rules discussions,” as he framed it, where “you can have conversations with somebody about the partnership, but what we talk about stays here.”

In other words, supply chain collaboration has in many cases risen to a level of sophistication that requires more than just state-of-the-art software to drive industry-changing outcomes.

Be sure to check out the forthcoming editions of Strategic Alliance Monthly and Strategic Alliance Quarterly in Q4, which will feature deeper explorations of the evolving relationship between alliance managers and the sourcing and procurement functions as the latter more and more often find themselves managing their supplier relationships like alliances.  

Tags:  alliance managers  alliances  Andrew Eibling  artificial intelligence (AI)  Enable Injections  manufacturing partners  partner  predictive analytics  Russ Buchanan  sourcing and procurement  Strategic Alliance Monthly  Strategic Alliance Quarterly  supplier relationships  World Economic Forum  Xerox 

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Here’s to Another Alliance Launch

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, October 31, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Alliances win—and the profession of alliance management advances—when we partner together to meet the challenges ahead.

     In this “best of the past” issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly, we’re actually embarking at the same time on a new voyage into the future. So I thought it would be a good idea to introduce—or reintroduce—myself to ASAP members and readers.

     It’s been my good fortune recently to be named editor in chief of this magazine and senior editorial consultant to ASAP. Some of you might remember me from my time editing and writing for what was then Strategic Alliance Magazine from its first issue in Q2 2011 until early 2014. I was also involved in editing the 2013 ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management: A Practitioner’s Guide, supporting the editorial team so skillfully led by Norma Watenpaugh, Ard-Pieter de Man, Dave Luvison, and others.

     My experience has largely been in the realms of writing and editing—copyediting, proofreading, and production editing for book publishers; and writing for and serving as editor or managing editor of a couple of quarterly magazines and one weekly newspaper. 

     Late last year I was thrilled to be asked to work with ASAP once again and write two (so far) updates to the Handbook: a supplement on IT partnering (completed) and another on biopharma alliances (in progress). Throughout the process of interviewing ASAP members and other alliance leaders for these supplements over the last few months, I was struck time and again by how knowledgeable, insightful, and far-seeing the members of this community are.

     These senior executives, consultants, researchers, and analysts drove home for me a number of important points. One is that alliance professionals need to transition from being merely “managers” who do what they’re told to leading as big-picture strategic visionaries who take an entrepreneurial view of partnering as they guide their alliances to fruition. Another is that they need to take responsibility for their own careers and take charge of their collaborations, working in multiple directions at once to educate and align senior leaders, get stakeholder buy-in, and achieve a sense of trust with partners, among other mission-critical activities.

     This is certainly easier said than done, and as one alliance leader told me, alliance managers typically end up “wearing many hats on one head,” accountable to people above and below them—not to mention laterally, in diverse functional areas—in their organization, as well as to their counterparts at partner companies.

In addition, these already busy, time-constrained folks somehow need to “see around corners” in their partnerships, their company, and their industry in order to know what’s coming next and help decide how their organizations—and their partnering strategies—will need to adjust, pivot, or even about-face to meet the challenges. This is especially true in the fast-moving world of technology partnering, but it applies as well to biopharma and practically any other sector you can name.

     As one IT industry analyst put it: “The whole world has blown up, and now it’s landing and settling. The head of alliances will be the most important person in any company in the next ten years. It’s going to create winners and losers, and complete disruption. But alliances win!”

     All the more reason for today’s companies to have not just an alliance management function, but a partnering strategy. More to the point, any corporate strategic vision should include partnering and alliances as part of the way business gets done, as a key route to competitive success in this age of ecosystems, complex supply chains, new markets, and ever more volatile conditions. The people and companies that can get that strategy nailed down and take it to market will be the most successful in a time of disruption.

     That, of course, is where ASAP comes in, drawing on the collective wisdom of its members in order to lead, educate, and set the agenda for the profession. I’m incredibly pleased to once more be partnering with ASAP in this endeavor, and as we launch our alliance, I invite you to be a part of it. Contact me anytime with article ideas and submissions, suggestions for blog posts or other content, and questions or comments about what we’re doing. And if you see me at BioPharma in Boston, the European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam, or next year’s Global Alliance Summit in Tampa, come up and say hello!

Michael J. Burke is editor in chief of Strategic Alliance Quarterly and senior editorial consultant to ASAP. He can be reached at mburke@strategic-alliances.org.

Tags:  alliance management advances  Alliances  Ard-Pieter de Man  big-picture strategic visionaries  BioPharma Conference  challenges ahead European Alliance Summit  Dave Luvison  Global Alliance Summit  IT industry  Norma Watenpaugh  partner  partnering strategy  profession  Strategic Alliance Quarterly 

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The Perfect Storm Meets the Perfect Ship: The Changing Face of Partnering in Tech and Biopharma

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, October 30, 2019

In most industries, change is now so rapid that we often have trouble seeing through the fog of day-to-day demands in front of us. The effects we experience, react to, and feel most keenly may be local—our jobs, our companies, our partners, our industries—but the bigger picture behind it is global, and the frequent wind shifts of global trade, the interconnected worldwide economy, and changing consumer and customer behavior cannot always be foreseen. Instead of being able to ride out the proverbial “calm before the storm,” we have to navigate our way through a series of storms, each one seemingly more disruptive than the next.

            This is certainly no less true in the fields of biopharma and technology partnering, two industries from which so many of our ASAP members hail.

            The technology sector is still undergoing a transition from traditional channel management to ecosystem management, from multipartner alliances and channels to ecosystems of hundreds of partners at various levels—all very challenging to keep tabs on, much less manage and oversee. Go-to-market efforts that formerly might have involved just two or three companies may now be mounted by 10 or 15 ecosystem partners—or more—leveraging their strengths and customer knowledge to sell solutions together.

            The sea change is happening in biopharma as well. The space has seen increasing partnerships between technology and biopharma companies, like those involving digital therapeutics startups, service providers, diagnostic companies, and even ecosystem-like multipartner deep engagements—all as pharma companies must still maintain their excellence in asset-based product partnerships in order to remain competitive.

            Even the language can get confusing. Alliances? Partnerships? Relationships? Ecosystems? We’ve heard from some who say they “don’t do alliances—it’s just partnering now.” Others may prefer the term alliances to partnerships from a legal or perhaps philosophical standpoint. Still others put the emphasis on ecosystems as the direction everything is heading.

            What’s going on? How to make sense of these shifting winds and rolling waves of disruption? Is there a perfect ship that can make way through the perfect storm?

The passage through these choppy seas is not always clear, but I believe the ASAP community—our “ship,” if you will—is perfectly positioned to illuminate the fog, avoid the icebergs, and take advantage of the opportunities provided amid all these developments. Here’s why:

  • Throughout its two-decade-plus history, ASAP has been driven by its mission to collect and promote the best partnering practices of both biopharma and tech companies, along with other industries that utilize partnering to create value.
  • Early on, ASAP predicted and began to prepare its members for frequent, if not routine, partnerships between health care/biopharma and tech companies.
  • We know that complex ecosystems and multipartner relationships require modified, agile best practices to be successful. ASAP has long been working tirelessly to provide solid education and actionable guidance in these areas.
  • We now have the opportunity to take advantage of the partnering skills as defined in The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management and supplement these learnings with other informative insights that continue to be unveiled throughout all of ASAP’s media and publications—including Strategic Alliance Quarterly, Strategic Alliance Monthly and Weekly, and ASAP Netcast Webinars.
  • Finally, there’s the unparalleled access to education and networking provided by ASAP conferences and other events, such as the upcoming European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam (Nov. 14–15) and the Global Alliance Summit in Tampa (Mar. 16–18, 2020).

It’s all there and yours for the taking. Want to get on board with the latest partnering practices in the technology and health care/biopharma industries? Look no further than this seriously skilled community of practitioners—“our ship.” Together, we’re setting a course for the future of alliances and partnering.

Tags:  Alliance  biopharma  channels  collaboration  diagnostic companies  ecosystems  Go-to-market  health care  multipartner alliances  partner  partnering  service providers  technology  therapeutics startups 

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SHORT 3-MINUTE ACTION REQUEST | Share your Experiences in a Joint Survey with IDC

Posted By Kimberly Miller, Friday, October 25, 2019

ASAP and IDC are conducting a joint survey which explores how others are managing alliance metrics and joint comp especially for sales and alliance professionals. The survey has only nine questions and should take you less than three minutes to complete. A post survey overview and results will be shared with the IDC and ASAP member communities. If you are not a member of either community, you can still participate in the survey but must send an email to marketing coordinator Michele Yudysky at myudysky@strategic-alliances.org indicating that you took part in the survey and would like to be included on the distribution list for the report out.

Click on the link below to include your experiences today!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5QTRQ8V

Tags:  alliance metrics  ASAP  IDC  joint comp 

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Ahead of the Curve...ASAP and Strategic Alliance Quarterly celebrate the past while looking firmly toward the future

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Friday, October 25, 2019

As we here at ASAP have been transitioning to our new offices—and to a new editorial team—we thought it was important to maintain continuity by preserving and celebrating what has worked well for our community while always keeping an eye on the present and on what’s up ahead. So this issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly is a special one: a look back at the “best of the past”—articles on evergreen topics full of still-timely information about perennial issues for the alliance management profession—even as we keep our strategic vision firmly facing toward the future.

            What has always made us strong together is the fact that ASAP is your community. We never forget how important it is that you continue to be part of it—and that your interactions with this community help us to spot new trends, identify new needs, and define and refine new capabilities in alliance management and the field of partnering. During my own career I relied heavily on ASAP, along with my colleagues, to see, understand, and prepare for emerging business trends that might put us ahead of the curve.

            Here’s an example: Back in 2009–10, we were talking about how important it would be to have alliance management tactics built into corporate strategy. We declared that every CEO should have a partnership and alliance management strategy. At the time it was clear we were fighting an uphill battle, for sure, and even we thought that what we were asking for was aspirational—if sorely needed. But today we find that the majority of CEOs and other high-ranking officers of major corporations have already built or begun to build a partnership strategy into their corporate plans.

            Need another example? Not so long ago, around 2013, ASAP was writing about, talking about, and presenting the view that digital partnerships would be the next major change for our two primary ASAP member segments: technology and biopharma. While many of us understood that diagnostics, platforms, and wearables would soon become the basis for new partnerships between pharma and tech, many believed this was still a long way off. Yet already today we can see that nearly every major biopharma company and many tech companies are thinking, planning, and executing on partnerships that reach across the boundaries of each other’s industries.

            Could it be that our amazing community of practitioners has the power not only to predict the future, but also to learn important lessons from the past? I think so. And as you read this “best of” issue, I suspect you’ll agree with me that its themes—including managing conflict, navigating cultural issues and company size differences, driving cross-industry partnerships, and guiding alliance wind-down—are still very much alive in the day-to-day work of alliance professionals.

I hope you’ll take advantage of this selection of some of the “wisdom of the past”—the insights, the learnings, the failures and the success stories—even as we shift our thinking toward what’s out on the horizon and to the next emerging alliance challenges and opportunities.

            Like this magazine, ASAP and our member community keep moving forward. We’ll continue to try to provide our hardworking members with information they can use that will help them in their daily work, in their careers, and in their strategic thinking. We’ll absorb and retain the lessons of the past while trying to see around corners into the future, living by the mantra that success that is repeatable is sustainable. So enjoy the read, and the trip down memory lane—and let us know what you think. 

Tags:  alliance management tactics  biopharma  careers  Community  community of practitioners  partnerships  strategic  sustainable  technology 

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