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Partnering Superheroes | Who Better to Combine Collaborative Leadership Skills with Strategic Vision and Ride Them All the Way to the C-Suite?

Posted By Mike Leonetti, CSAP, Friday, April 17, 2020

Superhero movies are definitely, as the kids say, “a thing.” They’re fun and exciting, a great way to liven up a long winter night. But do superheroes really exist, and could they have any relevance for us in terms of business strategy? I didn’t think so, but recently I was part of three conversations that changed my mind.

 

First, I spoke with Elizabeth Gazda, CEO of Embr Labs, in anticipation of her upcoming Leadership Forum talk at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit. Embr Labs makes a wearable bracelet that can raise or lower your skin temperature to help with stress reduction and anxiety and improve sleep and focus. Before joining Embr, Liz cofounded a fintech and a music technology startup, and worked at some of Boston’s first “unicorns,” like ATG and m-Qube.

 

Liz made the point that the collaborative leadership and critical thinking skills needed in the C-suite are very close to those of the alliance management competency profile. Liz believes partnering “superheroes” can and should be showcased in their organizations as potential future CEOs. In her view, alliance management is the perfect preparation for executive leadership, especially as more and more companies undergo digital transformation via partnerships and seek to nurture and reward collaborative entrepreneurial excellence.

 

A second conversation took place in early February in Boston, at an ASAP New England chapter meeting whose theme was “Taking the Next Step: Critical Skills for Aspiring Alliance Executives and Organizational Leaders.” Moderated by Mai-Tal Kennedy of Vantage Partners, the discussion featured panelists Lou Shipley, former CEO of Black Duck Software and a lecturer at Harvard Business School and MIT; Christine Carberry, CSAP, board member at the UNH Entrepreneurship Center; and Andrew Hirsch, CFO and head of corporate development for Agios Pharmaceuticals.

 

All of them highlighted both the difficult job alliance managers have and its relevance for future career success. Lou in particular noted the number of alliance management “superstars” at his previous organization, including one who combined the roles of alliance management, business development, and investment banking expertise—superhero skills indeed. This individual directed the ultimate spinoff of the company and saved it close to $10 million. How’s that for adding value?

 

The third conversation was Jay McBain’s January 30 ASAP webinar, “Top 10 Channel and Alliances Predictions for 2020.” This presentation, an outgrowth of Jay’s influential research for Forrester, highlighted key trends affecting not only the tech world but most industries, as nearly every company, he says, is fast becoming a technology company. (See our cover story in Strategic Alliance Quarterly on ecosystems, for more of Jay’s and other experts’ timely insights and analysis of this exploding phenomenon.)

 

Among these trends is what Jay calls the “trifurcation” of the IT indirect sales channel into an influencer channel, the familiar transactional channel, and a retention channel. He noted too that with such heavyweights as Microsoft and Salesforce bringing hundreds or thousands of new partners into their ecosystems every month, a great partner experience is quickly becoming as important as a great customer experience when companies look strategically to their future.

 

With this heightened awareness of the interrelated issues of customer and partner experience—especially the complex retention phase—how are we going to manage all these relationships and ecosystems? What sort of superheroes will be needed to lead behemoths like Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, IBM, and others into the partnering-everywhere world?

 

I think you know the answer. Who better than alliance professionals? As Jay said, they’re the ones with the right résumé to be ecosystem managers and orchestrators—not only in IT, but in biopharma, manufacturing, consumer goods, and across industries. These partnering specialists, collaboration leaders, and strategic visionaries have the capabilities, the skills, and the superhero savvy to get it done—the same attributes that make them ideal candidates for the C-suite.

 

So what’s holding us back? Despite an abundance of evidence, not enough companies have grasped the full implications. I see many organizations focused on the transaction—and not applying partnering best practice in the retention phase of sales partnerships. As Jay argues, some of them—even among the Fortune 500—will end up losers, sticking their heads in the sand and refusing to adapt to an oncoming future where customer satisfaction is increasingly delivered through a great partner experience (Px).

 

Alliance professionals can make Px a reality right now. The lessons of past partnership failures should be enough to rally today’s C-suite leaders to seek success in the massive partnerships their organizations will undertake. In addition, organizations must begin grooming their best alliance managers for the C-suite and other positions of leadership in the future—even as they’re employing them for partner and customer retention in the present. We have the tools, the skills, and the people to get the job done; what’s needed is a true focus and consensus that partnerships are difficult and require best practices and trained professionals to make them successful. That and a hardy band of partnering superheroes—with or without the cape.

Tags:  alliance professionals  Black Duck Software  Christine Carberry  collaborative leaders  c-Suite  ecosystem  Elizabeth Gazda  Embr Labs  Google  Harvard Business School  IBM  Jay McBain  Lou Shipley  Mai-Tal Kennedy  Microsoft  MIT  partnerships  Salesforce  UNH Entrepreneurship Cen  Vantage Partners 

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Q4 Strategic Alliance Quarterly Sourcing Outtakes: The Power of the First Draft, Ever-Changing Tech Standards, Customers and the Cloud, Value vs. Discounts

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In our upcoming issues of Strategic Alliance Monthly and Strategic Alliance Quarterly, we will examine the changing nature of supplier collaborations in today’s business world. In a lengthy feature for Strategic Alliance Quarterly, we dive deep into how advanced digital technologies are transforming sourcing and procurement managers’ jobs such that they now need alliance management skills and practices to effectively carry out their responsibilities. Meanwhile, a feature in our next edition of Strategic Alliance Monthly explores how a company can become a preferred supplier in the eyes of its partner.

As is the case with just about every piece we put together for ASAP’s publications, there were plenty of great insights left over from our interviews with experts from the ASAP community that don’t appear in either article. Here are just a few of those nuggets.

Alliance Agreements and the Power of the Pen

Andrew Eibling, CSAP, vice president of business development and alliance management at Enable Injections, Inc., made it known several times during our conversation that he felt that, in pharma, the procurement division was generally a parking lot for nonstrategic partnerships. In other words, wind up with a procurement manager as your point of contact and odds are that you have almost zero chance of having any real influence over the partner organization’s affairs. In that discussion, Eibling noted that initial contract negotiations offered a sign of how a partner will view your organization and relationship. The goal is to agree on a contract that hews closer to the principles set forth in The ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management rather than a boilerplate supplier agreement, and the best way to ensure this is to compose the first draft for the partner’s review.

“Somebody has the power of the pen. Who drafts the agreement first? Everyone wants to take the first pass because that becomes the substrate you’re going to work from,” said Eibling. He added that an alliance agreement “tends to be more bidirectional versus what we would get from a monodirectional supplier agreement [where] you will do what’s on the schedule according to the terms we agreed to, and that’s that.”

Are We a “Standards Fit”?

An important element to assembling a tech alliance that we didn’t end up exploring in great depth in the feature was the layer of complexity added by the number of disparate standards for emerging technologies, such as cloud and IoT, competing in the marketplace. Companies putting together a smart tractor, for example, have to find partners that are not only a feature/function fit and a cultural fit but also a “standards fit,” so to speak—that is, they base their systems on technical protocols that align with your IT architecture.

“Things are moving so fast. You might get a standard out there and get everybody to adopt it, but then some new technology comes along that disrupts it all. You’ve spent all this money on standardization and it didn’t endure. That’s one of the reasons why, as a supplier, you need to know what your customers’ sourcing strategies are, and if you’re going to be compatible with the direction they are going in,” said Russ Buchanan, CSAP, vice president of strategic alliances at Xerox and ASAP’s chairman emeritus.

As an example, Buchanan talked about how companies that base their technology on proprietary standards want to be sure to avoid getting entwined with organizations that are placing their chips on open source models.

“OK Google: I’m Seeing Other Cloud Companies”

Subhojit Roye, CSAP, vice president and head of alliances at Tech Mahindra Business Services, singled out the three cloud Goliaths—Google, AWS, and Microsoft—as another potential source of complexity in constructing an alliance. One or more of those vendors may pressure the manufacturer to make it the exclusive cloud platform for the new product or service, but in many cases decent portions of the OEM’s customer base may be split among each of the three cloud leaders. The manufacturer can’t risk alienating a portion of its clients. Thus, the sourcing manager may need to stand up to a powerful market mover, something alliance managers have been doing for years.

“Suddenly, if you’re the procurement manager you have to explain to Google, ‘I’m sorry, but customers are demanding that we have to talk with all three companies,’” Roye said.

Don’t Nickel-and-Dime a Valuable Relationship

More than one interviewee stressed that lower prices are no longer the end game for sourcing and procurement managers. Overall value is the buyer’s main goal. Roye explained the situation in greater detail.

“The procurement function is becoming more and more strategic. The chief marketing officer is becoming critical. Chief customer service officer, the head of sales, and the CEO are suddenly banking on the procurement officer to say, ‘Listen, those days are gone. Don’t nickel-and-dime the vendor. Don’t ask him to give us a $10 item for $6. We’d rather get more value for $10. We’d rather pay him $12 to make sure he’s happy with us, he gives us our products on time—we don’t wind up with a screw-up on Thanksgiving or during the winter holidays—or he doesn’t switch at the last minute and go to a competitor.”

Remember, this is just what hit the cutting room floor. Be sure to check out the next issues of Strategic Alliance Monthly and Strategic Alliance Quarterly for more great insights into alliance management vis-à-vis the sourcing and procurement functions in today’s corporate landscape. 

Tags:  alliances  Andrew Eibling  AWS  Cloud  digital technologies  Enable Injections  Google  IoT  Microsoft  procurement  relationship  Russ Buchanan  Sourcing  Strategic Alliance Quarterly  Subhojit Roye  Tech Mahindra Business Services  Tech Standards  transforming sourcing  Value vs. Discounts  Xerox 

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The Beatles, Alliances in the C-Suite, and a Company Built on Strategic Partnerships (Part 2): Citrix Chief Marketing Officer Kicks off the ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ASAP Global Alliance Summit keynoter Tim Minahan, an English and political science major and graduate of the Kellogg School of Management’s Chief Marketing Officer Program, joined $3.2 billion Citrix about two years ago. The senior vice president of strategy and chief marketing officer framed his presentation around the theme of “everything I ever needed to know about strategic alliances I learned from the Beatles.”

His first point—“or what I learned from John, Paul, and Ringo”—emphasized the importance of driving growth “With a Little Help from My Friends,” a hit song from 1967’s Yellow Submarine. “The fastest way to grow, to scale, is to trade on someone who has established networks and relationships,” Minahan explained, referring back to the beginnings of Citrix nearly three decades ago. “Back then it was Microsoft—so it made tremendous sense that founders of Citrix made a business out of making it easier for IT to migrate to the Microsoft platform,” he said.

“This carries through even to today,” Minahan continued. “Today, on day one, we’re there to provide our solutions whenever Microsoft launches new solutions. …  As many of you know, Microsoft has a sell-through model. So we’ve predicated our investment, ensuring we’re building the right enablement and incentives for Microsoft and its channel partners.” The size of this partnering opportunity? He cited projections of “a $1 trillion market cap business for Microsoft migrating to the cloud.”

Minahan talked in some depth about swimming in the sea of coopetition, including how Citrix has partnered with Google and Cisco to enable functionality for Microsoft’s office software on the latest generation of Android phones. He peppered his talk with repeated references to “incentivizing your partners” and emphasized one of his key initiatives to radically streamline marketing Citrix campaigns and make joint marketing much simpler for partners.

“When I joined Citrix two years ago, we had over 40 different marketing campaigns. It was very difficult for alliances partners and salespeople to understand,” he explained. “This year, we have three primary campaigns aligned with business outcomes: employee experience and productivity, security and compliance, and choice. We’ve lined up our leading strategic alliances within each of those. … That’s the type of investment we’re making to drive up the ROI,” he added.

“Alliances is really a strategic leader,” Minahan noted during the Q&A that followed his talk. “I elevated our alliance marketing leader. She sits on the marketing leadership team, and we include strategic alliances as we build the market plan, not as an afterthought. That also signals to our organization and our partners that we are very serious about alliances.”

Other Beatles-inspired alliance management insights from Minahan included:

  •  “Come Together”—“make yourselves an essential component by fostering value between partners.”
  • “Tax Man”—“find a common enemy. It could be a common business challenge, not necessarily a competitor.”
  • “A Day in the Life”—“always put the customer first.”
  • “Help!”– “make the investment to ensure our partners and channel can be successful and—I can’t say it enough—incentives.”
  •  “Revolution”—“have a common vision for a better future. We all want to be a part of something great that is transforming the world.” 

Tags:  Alliances  Cisco  Citrix  C-Suite  Google  marketing campaigns  Microsoft  strategic leader  Strategic Partnerships  Tim Minahan 

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Partnering and Digital Transformation: A Preview of the June 7 ASAP Tech Partner Forum with Erna Arnesen, CSAP

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Monday, June 5, 2017

A highlight of the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in San Diego was spending some quality conversation time one evening with Erna Arnesen, CSAP—a well-known and widely respected figure not just within ASAP but also in the high-tech community, where she’s been recognized as one of “Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal. Erna—who is chief channel and alliance officer at ZL Technologies—flew into San Diego and arrived at the Marriott Mission Valley in the late evening as I was chatting in the closed hotel bar with Greg Burge, CSAP, immediate past president of the ASAP Silicon Valley Chapter. She must have been tired, but the always-friendly Erna joined us and, at Greg’s prompting, recounted several experiences “back in the day” as one of the late Steve Jobs’ right-hand executives at NeXT (remember that very cool black workstation?). I asked her point-blank what the famously mercurial Jobs was like to work with. She recalled a number of times when Jobs was amazingly gracious—but had a different memory of the day Jobs got the news she was leaving the company for another position. (You’ll have to ask her yourself for the details.)

I caught up again with Erna this week upon her return from a European business trip. Her latest endeavor on behalf of the ASAP and high-tech community is helping to organize the Wednesday, June 7, 2017 ASAP Tech Partner Forum. Since January, she has been working with Greg and a core group of other leaders in ASAP’s Silicon Valley Chapter, including current chapter president Ana Brown, CSAP, of Citrix, Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP, of Phoenix Consulting Group, and Jennifer Ames-Hoskins, CA-AM, from Microsoft, along with ASAP staff executive Diane Lemkin. The event—focused around how to “collaborate at the speed of digital transformation”—is hosted by gaming processor board maker NVIDIA.

Erna also is the facilitator of a pivotal panel discussion on “Strategies You Need to Partner Everywhere,” where she will be joined onstage by Steen Graham, general manager, IoT ecosystem/channels, Internet of Things Group, Intel, Maria Olson, CSAP, VP of global and strategic alliances at NetApp, and Andres Sintes, Cisco’s global senior director, partner GTM, digital transformation & IoT. I asked Erna to talk about how the ASAP Tech Partner Forum came about, and what she plans to discuss with her fellow panelists.

ASAP Media: How did the ASAP Tech Partner Forum come about?

We knew about how the ASAP BioPharma Conference got started a few years back. We thought we’d start with a one-day event that would be a Tech Partner Forum—something specifically centered in Silicon Valley, less time-consuming than a multi-day summit, primarily targeting the Bay Area but encouraging people outside the region to come, and catering to high-tech partnering and strategy. Our first choice for location was Silicon Valley, not San Francisco, which is a different audience.  Silicon Valley attracts established companies as well as startups and has the big hardware and software players—SAP, Google, NetApp, Cisco, NVIDIA, etc. The audience is robust and we have quite a few Silicon Valley Chapter members attending. I see this as our opportunity to support our local high-tech ASAP membership and as an opportunity to engage non-members and expand the visibility of ASAP through both speakers and participation of attendees we could attract.

You’ve got an impressive and diverse lineup of executives from leading tech companies on the program and specifically in your panel. How is the day organized and what topics are you planning to tackle in your session?

Our theme is the strategy for partnering in the era of, and with the speed of, digital transformation and the Internet of Things. When we planned the program, we split the overall event into three major pillars:  strategy, execution, and tools. In the opening session NVIDIA will talk about the speed of alliances—they are known for being a fast-moving partnering company. Then there’s the strategy panel that I am moderating.  In the afternoon, execution and tools is the last panel of the day, prior to a networking reception.

In our strategy session, first of all, the Internet of Things (IoT) is really important to understand. What’s the ecosystem and channel strategy of companies around IoT? Two of the three speakers are focused on this as their full-time jobs—Andres Sintes and Steen Graham work on behalf of their companies to build ecosystems with partners that are expanding their footprint in digital transformation and IOT. We will start out with how to define IoT, the speakers’ role in go-to-market (GTM) strategy, and what’s the collaboration model for multi-vendor, multi-partner collaborations—more than two partners coming together, which is often the case for IOT and digital transformation.

ASAP Media will preview other critical and challenging topics on the agenda at the June 7, 2017 ASAP Tech Partner Forum in Part Two of our Q&A with Erna Arnesen. Learn more and register for the event at www.asaptechforum.org.  

Tags:  Andres Sintes  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Cisco  Digital Transformation  Erna Arnesen  execution  Google  go-to-market (GTM)  Greg Burge  Internet of Things (IoT)  Jobs  Maria Olson  NetApp  NVIDIA  Partnering  SAP  Steen Graham  strategy  tools  ZL Technologies 

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High Tech, Biopharma, and Academia: The Three-Legged Stool of Many of Today’s Collaborations

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cross-industry partnering is on the rise, and a sturdy three-legged stool is fast becoming fundamental furniture in the world of collaboration. The hot topic of collaboration between high tech, biopharma, and academia is on stage Sept. 8 at the ASAP 2016 BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” being held at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, Boston. In this session, three panelists from diverse backgrounds discuss the trend of “Cross-Industry Partnerships: Managing Alliances between Biopharma and High-Tech Partners”: Chaitanya K. Dahagam, MD, global partner innovation executive at IBM Watson Health, who has managed collaborations for IBM; Rachel Sha, transactions lead, business development & licensing, at Sanofi, who has managed a collaboration with Google; Juliana Leung, director, strategic alliances, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who has overseen collaborations with Intel, Google, and IBM. I spoke with session moderator Prakash Purohit, managing partner at Raaya Biopharma Consulting, about the thrust of the panel discussion. 

What is the focus of the panel discussions?

They are giving their perspective on how they approached different issues or aspects of cross-industry alliances, how they resolved their questions and concerns, and their approaches in doing so. They describe the metrics and tools they used to resolve these issues. For example, if you take an alliance between high tech and academic institutions, some of the challenges that might crop up are the alignment of goals. Each institution may have their own set of goals for innovation, licensing, fund raising, and publications. So how do they align these goals, especially with high tech, because they are looking to bring to market in the short term, and how will they manage those alliances? We will discuss IBM’s collaborations with healthcare and biopharma: What kinds of challenges did they find in these alliances with various entities, such as clinicians, patients, technical personnel, and consumers? 

Why is this topic of such interest now in biopharma?

This is a brand new session. Recently there has been a recognition of the benefits of developing these alliances for these industries, because they provide clinicians, patients, and doctors with new tools for managing data and genomic data. Considerable growth in the amount of that data has necessitated building cross-industry partnerships in healthcare and biopharma with companies such as IBM, Google, Oracle, and Microsoft. And because today’s data is digital, high tech companies are developing new tools for data analysis for the healthcare industry. 

Where does academia fit in?

We did an ASAP Webinar in May to address the challenges of academia and biopharma alliances. One reason collaborations with academia are happening more frequently is that the tremendous amount of growth of data through genomic or clinical research has become a daunting challenge for both academia and hospitals. High tech is continuously evolving with new software programs, technology, etc. Those collaborations tend to be short because of the dynamics and changes. Biopharma and bioresearch tend to be long-term collaborations because understanding the mechanisms or functions is complicated. It takes time to understand how processes happen. Human trials tend to take place over a long period, some eight to 10 years to go to market. Academic research can happen in a few years of collaboration or it can involve clinical trials with long processes and numerous stagesoften with government funding. That is another way academic institutions come into the picture. They might be involved in a screening process that can be used to create new sets of molecules. Industry partners can then test a number of compounds using that tool for screening purposes. They can determine what works and provide the results to the biopharma industry. 

Tags:  alliances  analytical tools  biopharma  Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard  Chaitanya Dahagam  collaborations  cross-industry alliances  Google  healthcare  IBM  IBM Watson  Juianna Leung  managing data  Microsoft  Oracle  Prakash Purohit  Rachel Sha  Sanofi 

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