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Panel Shows Off Updated Research on Go-to-Market Alliances

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/5/2013

This afternoon at the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, a panel led by Norma Watenpaugh and including Jay Chitnis and Nimma Bakshi showcased the most recent iteration of a survey of go-to-market alliances. In “Making It to Market: The Latest Research on How to Optimize Go-to-Market Alliances,” Watenpaugh, founding principal of Phoenix Consulting Group, and her two panelists presented the 2013 Research on Best Practices in Go-to-Market Alliances, updating a 2010 study on the same subject. Chitnis, director of business development and alliances at Isilon, an EMC company, and Bakshi, senior director with PwC Corporate Advisory Services, were part of a steering group along with Watenpaugh and others that designed and implemented the survey.

Alliance professionals from 95 companies in 23 different countries responded to the survey, many of them via social media.

For Bakshi, the results of the new survey show an “affirmation that innovation is valued at the executive level, along with evidence that many companies are taking a longer-term approach to alliances and showing “resistance to the dollar-tomorrow view.” To Chitnis, the study shows just what a high-performing alliance partner looks like, as well as how patient senior management is toward alliances.

In the new survey, the top 22 percent of companies reported that their alliances exceeded or “greatly exceeded” expectations. The study also showed something about what differentiates the outstanding performers from the others. Overperforming alliances tend to recognize the full value of alliances, not just revenue. Outperformers also measure more metrics, at least a few more in each category, such as strategic outcomes and sales closure—new customer wins, market share increase, increased sales closure, and vertical market penetration.

“Alliance managers need to know and be able to show that they have a legitimate reason to be part of the strategy conversation,” said Bakshi, reflecting on the survey’s significance. “You really have to be able to speak to someone at the strategy level,” Chitnis agreed. And while alliance managers may not be as numbers oriented as financial folks, they still need to articulate a “crisp, clean strategy” for executives, partners, and customers, he said.

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“Show Me the Money! I Need to Feel It!”

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/5/2013

Starting off with a fun clip from the movie Jerry Maguire, featuring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr., Jan Twombly and Jeff Shuman, principals of The Rhythm of Business, kept the afternoon rolling at the ASAP Global Summit today with their presentation “Show Me the Money!: Demonstrating Alliance Management’s Key Strategic Role to the C-Suite.” In it they discussed the three pillars forming the theme of this year’s Summit: “Leadership. Performance. Value” (although not quite in that order).

Twombly and Shuman started with a question: What is value? Is it the same as money? Are there other forms of value? And what sort of value is the CEO expecting to derive from his or her company’s alliances?

Touching on performance, Twombly stressed the need for alliance managers to be more proactive—or even, in Steve Steinhilber’s term, “preactive”—meaning that they must “look around the corners and see far out.”

And when you put value and performance together, Twombly said, you have demonstrated leadership in your alliance.

Then Twombly and Shuman asked the audience: “What should alliance managers do to be perceived as leaders in generating value?” Answers ranged from “owning the asset” in an entrepreneurial sense, to driving the process for the benefit of all parties involved, to aligning the parties so that they “sing from the same hymn sheet,” and aligning to corporate strategy as well.

“You’ve got to link what you’re doing to value,” Twombly concluded. “Look at your calendar, look at your task list—anything in there, can you link it to value? If not, why are you doing it? What are you doing to make the link between performance and value? What can you do?”

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CAO Panel Reflects on Global Summit Opening Plenary

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/5/2013

Although the speakers at the earlier sessions of the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit’s opening plenary represented vastly different industries and walks of life, a few common threads seemed to emerge across each presentation—changing ecosystems, disruption, and foresight, among others. This was noted in the final portion of the plenary, a roundtable titled, “Dialogue with the CAOs: Provocative Ideas for Elevating Leadership, Performance, and Value” moderated by ASAP Vice Chairman Jack Pearson, CSAP, managing director and chief alliance officer for Alliance Development International.

When asked what struck her the most of the ideas presented throughout the morning, Laura McCluer, director or partnerships and alliances at ANCILE Solutions, said she would heed the advice of keynote Alex Counts, head of the Grameen Foundation, not to “underestimate your capabilities.” She was also moved to issue herself and every other attendee in the IT industry to occasionally take a step back and try think through strategy more deliberately, so that you can “look for what you don’t see.” She explained that folks in IT are constantly in a hurry and that pace moves increasingly fast as executives move up the corporate ladder making it easy to miss opportunities and threats.

Posed with the same question, Harm-Jan Borgeld, head of alliance management at Merck Serono, took to heart Counts’ recommendation not to wait on an ideal prospective partner if they are not seeing the opportunity, a reference to the initial rejections from big banks that led the Grameen Foundation to lend to impoverished populations themselves on a larger scale. Of the plenary’s second speaker Steve Steinhilber, vice president of emerging solutions ecosystems at Cisco, Borgeld said he “could have been one of the nominees” for the Oscars because his performance was so impressive. He echoed the sentiment that companies need to be thinking five to ten years down the road, and added that “sometimes we also need to look 20, 30, 40 years out.”

Struck by Steinhilber’s illustration of the fall of former major giants like the big five record labels that ruled the recording industry for much of the last century until Apple’s innovations eroded their market caps, McCluer took to heart the message not to get too attached to your current partners, even ones with which you have worked hard to form strong bonds.

“You have to be flexible and look at other ways to create value,” she said.

McCluer also realized she had been mistakenly thinking of sustainability as its own industry until Christopher Turner, director of Rio+20 for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and director of state and local government at PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed the audience that everybody is affected by the need for sustainable business. Borgeld, too, noted that we need to look to the past to solve some of the issues related to sustainability, citing the example of Tokyo 150 years ago which had no waste management issues.

As someone who has made a career in the biopharma industry in which agreements are sealed with thousands of pages of contracts, Borgeld was incredulous that a handshake was all that was needed to hatch some of Grameen’s partnerships. His takeaway: “How can we simplify the work we are doing?”

The audience then met in groups to discuss the lessons they learned. One attendee noted that ASAP has to have an eye towards expansion of its membership to include the new players in this cross-boundary/cross-industry model. This new model needs to engage people, particularly senior level executives who need to understand the new ecosystem as it multiplies.

Another asked, “To what extent do alliance managers in organizations have strategic impact?” Since alliance managers often cannot bring new partners in completely on their own, how does an alliance pro assist senior leaders with this process?

“The light is shining on alliance management to take that leadership [in strategic thinking],” the attendee said.

When asked to offer closing thoughts, McCluer told the audience that the new alliance management professional needed to be a creative thinker who can work with new business models—a far cry from the days when alliance management was where “folks went to go when they didn’t know where to go.”

Borgeld recounted several lessons learned from his peers at an invitation-only CAO Roundtable the previous day. His Ipsen colleagues had business development and alliance management functions in equal standing reporting to one level of senior management. At Astellas, the CEO gets involved in committee disputes. Eli Lilly involves alliance management earlier in the contract negotiation process than he was accustomed to seeing. Novartis is always assessing the financial value alliance managers bring. Takeda drove home the notion that alliances will run much smoother if the proper groundwork is laid.

“If you do the first 100 days correctly, the other 200 or 2,000 days will be easier,” he said.

On that note, the plenary closed with perhaps the value proposition that was front-of-mind to most attendees by the end of the morning: lunch.

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How Do Partners Stay Together? A Decade of HP-Microsoft

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/5/2013

Two companies. Two cultures. Two sets of management. Two different fiscal years. Even two different sets of three-letter acronyms. Sound familiar? Could be the story of any alliance—but in this case it’s the Frontline Partnership of Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard, which has endured for a decade so far.

Jack Baratta and Lisa Slim told the story of this long-running alliance in their presentation “Allies for the Long Haul: A Decade Inside the HP-Microsoft Frontline Partnership,” this afternoon as the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit rolled on here in Orlando. Slim is the director of the Microsoft Alliance Americas Enterprise Group at Hewlett-Packard, while Baratta served in that same role until recently. In her current role, Slim now manages 110 people across the Americas who are working only on this alliance. Both have seen the alliance evolve and succeed during the decade of its existence, overcoming many challenges.

How did they do it? They faced up to their challenges and learned from the “school of hard knocks,” according to Baratta. The challenges and differences between the two companies ranged from “Ugh!” to “OMG!” to “the worst,” as Baratta put it—everything from cultural differences to customer segments, from geographic differences to changes in leadership and other personnel, all the way up to coopetition and acquisitions. The “worst” challenges included value migration, strategic evolution, and changing business models. “The degree of complexity amps up quite a bit,” said Baratta.

Slim talked about the learnings gleaned from this alliance, noting that a big one involved leadership: “You have to inspire and lead your teams to press on and adapt,” she said. The HP-Microsoft “Recipe for Collaborative Success,” Slim noted, included having a consistent joint framework, the right people, cyclical collaborative planning, a focus on execution, communicating value, governance cadence, and self-examination.

The two companies worked with Alliancesphere to help iron out some of the problems in the relationship. “Quite frankly there was some dysfunctional behavior, and we were very determined that people be treated in the right way,” Baratta recalled.

“When the wheels fly off, they can really fly off and completely stall the sales process,” Slim acknowledged. This necessitates having open, “adult conversations” with the partner to straighten things out, said Baratta. In this as in any alliance, problems left unresolved tend to rebound and result in disappointment for the customer; in that case, both partners lose.

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Vision 2050: Summit Speaker Discusses Business, Individual Roles in Creating a Sustainable Future

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 20, 2014
Originally posted on 3/5/2013

Continuing the run of broad-ranging topics with global reach this morning at the 2013 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Orlando, Christopher Turner discussed how issues of sustainability figure in business planning, particularly alliances, as we look toward the future both as alliance professionals and citizens of the world. In his presentation, “Everybody Get Together: Creating a Sustainable Future,” Turner, director of Rio+20 for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and director of state and local government at PricewaterhouseCoopers, emphasized that the future is approaching rapidly and with it the looming challenges represented by climate change, depletion of natural resources, disposal of waste, and water and energy efficiency, among others.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), based in Geneva, created an initiative called Vision 2050: what would the world look like in 2050 if its 9 billion people were living sustainably? The WBCSD, in a three-year effort, worked with many companies and interest groups to examine the worst and best cases, and to devise a “trajectory” toward that sustainable view. Vision 2050 assumed two goals: high human development (access to health care, clean water, good living conditions, etc.) and low average biocapacity (or consumption) per person. Within that framework, Turner said, the WBCSD asked: “What are the must-haves? What do businesses need to do in partnership with governments and NGOs to make this happen?”

Many of the programs developed by the WBCSD are “essentially alliances,” said Turner, bringing together on average five to 15 companies for discussion, promotion, and research around these issues, engaging industry along with NGOs, academia, and governments. These programs center around such issues as greenhouse gases, water, cement production sustainability, forestry solutions, electric utilities, efficiency in buildings, and sustainability challenges in urban areas, among others.

Another effort in which the WBCSD has been involved is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20—so named because it took place 20 years after the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro. The 10-day conference on sustainable development, according to turner, didn’t have a lot of money behind it, and drew up no new treaties or rules, but was the scene of a “tremendous shift, a tipping point, from businesses being seen as pariahs, raping and pillaging, as polluters, to where we’re now seen as a protector. Certainly there’s still a lot of consumption, but the [positive] role of business is unquestioned.”

Turner also highlighted the importance of “people who know how to manage alliances and measure them”—such as, most obviously, the many 2013 ASAP Global Summit attendees in the audience. At Rio+20, Turner said, there were “many groups trying to form alliances to drive real action and investment in sustainability, but very little of it worked” due to too many competing interests, and perhaps an insufficient collaborative mindset. “Very few had the skills and ability to drive that collaboration that you need to drive action and real benefits,” he said.

But times are changing around the world, and businesses are seeing both the risk and the opportunity in sustainability concerns. At the same time, their customers, especially the younger generations, are already clued in to these issues and are demanding more eco-friendly products and services, which has an impact on both the marketing of new products and on the development of those products themselves. And while some products, such as the hybrid Toyota Prius, may not “look cool,” it’s becoming clear that “sustainability is cool—efficiency is cool!” Turner said.

Is there a role in all this for alliance managers? Definitely, said Turner. “Think about the alliances you’re running now and the disruptions you’re facing, and put sustainability on that list.”

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