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The Value of Honing in on Partner Specialization and Expertise—the Google Way

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Google has been called a trendsetter; a more apt description might be “epoch-maker.” The company repeatedly has surged ahead of the pack to set long-term standards. When adapting to the evolving multi-industry, multi-partner ecosystem, Google places great value on making specialization and expertise central to strategy, says Nina Harding, channel chief at Google Cloud. Harding discussed that message today in her session “Transforming Partnerships in the Cloud” at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17, at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California. In a fascinating pre-Forum interview, here’s what Harding honed in on:

Your session description describes Google’s link to transformation as pervasive in a world of continuous change. How does this philosophy fit into Google’s present partnering mindset?

We partner differently. We approach partnering much more from the ways companies and partners are transforming. I plan to talk a lot about traditional services and resellersthe way partners build their businesses. That traditional way is in the rear view mirror. We are finding increasingly the need to build businesses around where they have expertise, so it makes it easier to partner to fill in gaps. We ask the question: What do you want the ecosystem to do for you, and how do you want it to extend value for you? We look at channels differently as we meet with partners and look at the marketplace. Those traditional partners don’t exist anymore. They don’t show up as one type or two types anymore.

The shift from vendor to ecosystem partner requires figuring out for a particular company how they can best ride their business. You need to look at it more from a behavioral perspective: How can we make you successful or profitable? Or if you want to just sell, how can we unbridle you from the resell? Become strategic advisors if you don’t want to be bridled into reselling. We talk about transforming and looking at the landscape of the ecosystem and how they want to engage with us. It’s a very different approach. Companies like Google, SAP, and Microsoft used to have a lot of power in who their partners were. Now, with social media, purchasing is through networks. Our job is not to assess the value of a partner. Instead, it’s to differentiate the business. There is a fundamental shift in the way you want to engage and work with our ecosystem. We talk a lot more now about how we help partners differentiate in the marketplace and how we make them successful. Because we created a culture, we ask questions like: How do we find the right partner? How are they specialized? What is their expertise?

As one of the big leaders in this new ecosystem, how is Google adapting and adjusting to the change?

It’s critical. One of the biggest areas of investment in the last six months requires really focusing on industry perspective. For example, some of our great new partners and customers are makers of wearable devices, where they have the Google Cloud platform. This is not the traditional cloudwe take geospatial data, maps, linguistics, etc., and intertwine them. The power of having such tools and resources through Google partnering is to be able to deliver transformative options in, for example, the healthcare space. We also have Chrome. The utilitarian nature of a Chrome book allows hospitals and organizations to have a utility laptop that anyone can access. They can sign into their account regardless of it being their machinebecause everything is in the cloud. It’s not just signing into an epic system; it’s anything and everything they have access to as a user, from the G-suite to GCP, Chrome, maps. There’s a tower of solutions as a partner.

You state that companies need to become business advisors solving customer challenges in an agile, customer-centric, digital environment. Why is that the new normal?

Customers are almost ahead of partners sometimes in digital transformation, as partners are no longer going in to solve a lift-and-shift problem. Whole conversations need to be about imagining what your business could be and tackling what your next version of your business will be. It’s about transforming your businesshow to reach and serve your customer versus going in and saying “This is our tech, and this is how this will fit.” That’s the conversation we’re having about being that trusted advisor.

What are key considerations when building these new partnering programs?

I don’t think the partner program are vendor-driven, they are ecosystem-driven. So when building programs, build to make the partner successful. Build their business. In this world, it’s about innovation, digital transformation, and the need to infuse with tech enablement, but also it about how to think differently and imagine a different world than we have today. It’s a different way to enable partners. It doesn’t mean anything to a customer if you are a silver, bronze, or gold partner. But it means something if I have specialization or expertise to give you an idea of where you need to take your business. It’s about serving your ecosystem rather than measuring your ecosystem. My message is more about how should companies should be thinking differently working with their partners. Look at this from a different perspective and be customer-centric, which is a different philosophy.

Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more about the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Chrome  cloud  customer-centric  digital Transformation  geospatial data  Google Cloud  innovation  Microsoft  multi-partner ecosystem  Nina Harding  partner programs  partners  SAP  strategic advisors 

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Increasing Strength through P2P Muscle Building (Part 2): Cisco and SMART Partnering Execs Delve into the ‘Value Exchange Challenge’ at 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, October 15, 2018

2x, 5x, 10x. How can companies gain extra oomph and advantage in the emerging multi-partner, multi-industry ecosystem? That’s the central theme of the session “Value Exchange Challenge: Building the New P2P Ecosystem Partnering Muscle” being offered at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17 at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California. The session will be presented by two speakers: Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO, Alliancesphere, and principal, SMART Partnering; Kashif Abbasi, senior director, partner sales acceleration, global partner organization, Cisco Systems, Inc. I had the pleasure recently of talking at length with Coles, an animated and crisp speaker, about the driving force behind the session and the accompanying Cisco case study. Part two of our discussion follows.

ASAP Media: How does Cisco Systems enter into this value exchange equation as a case study?

We will lay out an example to understand the transformation Cisco is going through according to customer needs. Their new market model is built around new consumption and outcome-based models that go to market. At Cisco, they had to go beyond selling recurring software. It was no longer about landing the deal. It was about consumption and adoption in the entire customer lifecycle, and adoption to expansion to renewal. What they had to realize was that they had to help orchestrate the ecosystem and scale out this capability. They needed a scaling engine where they had different programs, different pipelines of enablement, automation, and sales acceleration. One of their areas of sales acceleration that is co-delivered with Alliancesphere is called ACES, which stands for Accelerating Cisco Ecosystem Sales, to take the complexity out and accelerate muscle building. ACES@Scale co-develops this methodology for its use partnerships and a framework to accelerate multiparty solution sales. It’s a proven methodology to sell Cisco architecture through 100% ready solutions with a faster time to booking. The key is bringing packaged solutions to market for their channelmulti-partner solutions all the way to resellers.

What else will you be covering in this session?

We will close it off by talking about the future of co-selling, which is all around the customer, the buyers, and the solutions. And it’s really about empowering the partners to exchange value from both the buyer and seller journey to help all parties realize the desired business outcomes. We will provide point of view on complexity of solutions versus buyer dynamics. Based on different co-selling scenarios, we will determine the best way to work with your partners. It’s a muscle that needs developing at all levels of organizations: from the executive team to management to the frontline - not just the sellers or tech team. The whole organization has to begin to work and operate differently.

What is driving the change, this need for a P2P muscle-building approach?

The change in the market and what customers are looking for: real solutions to solve problems in more proactive ways that eliminate the friction and focus on their needs and deliver to their outcomes. This kind of capability muscle is incremental. Building out the muscle and muscle memory becomes more effective the more you do itit gets stronger and stronger. It will become the core to the future of business. We’re going to look at it from a market and customer view, what it could mean to the audience, and then open it up to a Q&A session.

See part one of this blog and follow the ASAP Media team’s ongoing coverage of the October 17, 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org.  Learn more and register for the ASAP Tech Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  Alliancesphere  Cisco Systems  cross-functional  digital transformation  enablement  engagement  execution  Kashif Abbasi  Lorin Coles  P2P  partner  partnering  SMART Partnering  The Rhythm of Business  value creation 

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Increasing Strength through P2P Muscle Building (Part 1): Cisco and SMART Partnering Execs Delve into the ‘Value Exchange Challenge’ at 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, October 11, 2018

2x, 5x, 10x. How can companies gain extra oomph and advantage in the emerging multi-partner, multi-industry ecosystem? That’s the central theme of the session “Value Exchange Challenge: Building the New P2P Ecosystem Partnering Muscle” being offered at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17 at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California. The session will be presented by two speakers: Lorin Coles, CSAP, CEO, Alliancesphere, and principal, SMART Partnering; Kashif Abbasi, senior director, partner sales acceleration, global partner organization, Cisco Systems, Inc. I had the pleasure recently of talking at length with Coles, an animated and crisp speaker, about the driving force behind the session and the accompanying Cisco case study. Part one  of our discussion follows.

ASAP Media: Why is value so central to your presentation?

Lorin Coles: The core of all partnering and partnerships is really about value and trust. When two companies come together, they are looking for where and how they can help each other create greater value for the customer. That’s a value exchangeit occurs at multiple levels with multiple people in alliances. Partnerships in the past had specific way that they did it. Now, because of digital transformation and the speed, scale, and scope of change, it’s more complex than ever to create contextually relevant value for your partners and customers because there are new buyers, and the solutions are more complex. If there is no value, it’s difficult to partner. Value is the cornerstone in everything we do. The value exchange is where and how we are going to partner together.

How can companies build Partner-to-Partner (P2P) ecosystem partnering muscle?

Partnering evolves over time just like sports evolves over time. You need to go from enablement to engagement to execution. You do that by working cross-functionally at multiple levels with companies.

It’s important to understand the different personalities of your partner and the audience, the difference between partner types, and the functionthe marketing, sales, and product people and the roles they play in the partnership. And more importantly than ever, you need to understand the value exchange.

Building that new muscle is something a lot of people can’t do because it takes connecting dots that others don’t see. It’s important to determine if you are a novice, intermediate, advanced, or expert when building up this muscle. Companies are becoming more and more dependent on partnering and need to learn how to partner in more proactive ways than before. They need to understand when and where to bring in partners, how to leverage partners. The process is different than before because it’s across an ecosystem.

How does Cisco Systems enter into this value exchange equation as a case study?

We will lay out an example to understand the transformation Cisco is going through according to customer needs.

See the remainder of our discussion with Lorin Coles in part two of this article and follow the ASAP Media team’s ongoing coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more and register for the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  Alliancesphere  Cisco Systems  cross-functional  digital transformation  enablement  engagement  execution  Kashif Abbasi  Lorin Coles  P2P  partner  partnering  SMART Partnering  The Rhythm of Business  value creation 

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Transform or Risk Extinction (Part Two): Recognizing Value in Multiple Engagement Models

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2018

This is the second of two blogs continuing my April 2018 eSAM Plus article on “Architecting for Transformation: The Next Generation Partner Ecosystem,” the title of a lively conference session led by Russ Cobb, senior vice president, growth and business operations at SAS Institute, and Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, founding principal, Phoenix Consulting Group. The two took the stage at the A2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,”March 26-28, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. The drivers of seismic changes in channel partnering, Cobb and Watenpaugh explain explained, are the convergence of SMAC (social media, mobile computing, analytics, and cloud technology), the change in technology consumption, the rise of digital transformation (DX), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Part One of this blog post concluded on Watenpaugh’s comment, “There are no simple partner models anymore. They are adopting complex, multi-faceted business models where they do all of the above.” So how to recognize value across multiple engagement models?

Watenpaugh: Companies need to recognize value across multiple engagement models in the following ways:

  • Partner programs are evolving to recognize the breadth of contribution from partners across a blended business model.
  • Incentives shift to reward behavior and customer value.
  • Vendors can no longer subsidize profitability through rebates or discounts.
  • Recognizing value, investment, commitment, volume.

Cobb: SAS has a partner program that has a precious metals taxonomy as well. What we are trying to do is have more partners because of economics—if we can get a partner to look at different ways at engaging with SAS, such as the ability to resell SAS or engage in analytic services with a revenue-sharing agreement with SAS. We are really focused on economics because of customer behavior.  The more ways we can get engaged with you partner-wise, the more commitment you will get. The ROI will go up over time. One reason we get partners to do things with us is we create commitment over time.

Watenpaugh: The cloud strategy right now is evolving and emerging. We need a flexible view of what cloud means. We need to transition to a service model. How can we help our customers fit into third-party cloud environments? We’ve got to figure out how to meet our customers where their need might be. There is a complexity of applications. No one can do it alone, so we are seeing more partner-to-partner. There are so many specializations. No company has it all. It’s becoming more and more important to get from a pick list to what skills are needed to deliver.

Some people think it needs to be more like a blockchain model. That involves the challenge of finding new partners and finding how to engage to meet the needs of customers. Infrastructure companies are challenged, and finding the right value and provision in the cloud is really a challenge.

Russ: This all comes down to if you are a channel or IT partner, what is your unique value proposition? You need a very crisp value proposition. So what is the road ahead in ecosystem evolution?

  • Industry trends in cloud, digital transformation, and IoT are driving disruption and opportunity in the market
  • Non-traditional partners offering access to the line of business
  • Vendors will be required to think more holistically about the capabilities of the partner ecosystem
  • Vendors must create relevance to business outcomes or become commodities
  • Creating a compelling partner experience

Check out Part One of this blog post as well as the May 2018 issue of eSAM Plus for other topics addressed in Watenpaugh and Cobb’s session as well as ASAP Media’s coverage of other sessions at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. 

Tags:  blockchain  business models  channel partnering  channel partners  Cloud  complex partnering  digital transformation  IoT  Norma Watenpaugh  partner ecosystem  partner models  Phoenix Consulting Group  Russ Cobb  SAS Institute  SMAC  value propositions  vendors 

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Transform or Risk Extinction (Part One): ‘Become the Yoda to Our Channel Partners’

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, May 21, 2018
Updated: Sunday, May 20, 2018

This is the first of two blogs continuing my April 2018 eSAM Plus article on “Architecting for Transformation: The Next Generation Partner Ecosystem,” the title of a lively conference session led by Russ Cobb, senior vice president, growth and business operations at SAS Institute, and Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, founding principal, Phoenix Consulting Group. The two took the stage at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” March 26-28, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Cobb and Watenpaugh provided a frank tutorial on seismic changes in channel partnering. The drivers, they explained, are the convergence of SMAC (social media, mobile computing, analytics, and cloud technology), the change in technology consumption, the rise of digital transformation (DX), and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Watenpaugh: We need to become the Yoda to our channel partners. They need our support in areas like: how to sell to the line of business, the C-level, how these products integrate together to make a solution. The ability to manage the customer experience is going to be primary. I don’t think we’ve gotten it mastered. To enable our partners, we need to know that:

  • The trusted advisors role requires in-depth knowledge of customers’ businesses
  • The ability to manage the customer experience is key
  • Digital transformation and IoT require a more verticalized approach and expertise

Russ: I agree. This is an area where we need to put the greatest emphasis. IT is a commodity, if you think of the tech itself; you cannot create a lasting competitive advantage simply on IT advancement. This was going on almost a decade ago. The tech is going to get quicker and quicker. We are a company that is very proud of our products. We build lots of different products and product market segments. You need to ask, what unique value propositions do you have that are relevant to your customer? If you are not there, you are not going to win these conversations over time because you will not be able to provide the most value.

IoT, in particular, is very specific to your customer. We had some false starts in IoT with our partners. Now, we are trying to determine at an industry level, what is the value proposition were going to provide? You have to get really concrete about what that is. You want to add value to them not only on a cost basis but also on an innovation basis.

Watenpaugh: There are no simple partner models anymore. They are adopting complex, multi-faceted business models where they do all of the above.

Check out the May 2018 issue of eSAM Plus for other topics addressed in Watenpaugh and Cobb’s session as well as ASAP Media’s coverage of other sessions at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog post, in which Watenpaugh and Cobb discuss how to find value in complex partnering business models.

Tags:  business models  channel partners  complex partnering  digital transformation  IoT  Norma Watenpaugh  partner models  Phoenix Consulting Group  Russ Cobb  SAS Institute  value propositions 

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