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AI Is Simple—Until It’s Not

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Thursday, March 26, 2020

ASAP members, the Q1 2020 edition of Strategic Alliance Quarterly is now in your hands, and we hope you enjoy our feature that examines some of the early tenets emerging around still-nascent artificial intelligence (AI) alliances that now dot all walks of business. Per usual, this blog serves as a vehicle to share some of the thoughtful commentary that didn’t make it into the print feature. The following insights come to you via Bruce Anderson, electronics industry global managing director at IBM. 

We touched briefly in the piece on how vertical-industry expertise is a must for creating some of the more advanced AI applications in the market today. This isn’t true of all AI-enabled products and services—Anderson cited smart speakers, which evolve their communication based on the data they collect throughout their interactions with end users, as an example of an application that doesn’t require much more than the optimization of a set of programming APIs to bring to market.

Those Who Have External Data Use It—Those Who Don’t, Buy It

However, to develop a program for optimizing manufacturing schedules, development teams need more than just base APIs. Anderson noted that an AI algorithm of this nature would in all likelihood need to digest various sets of internal end-user data, plus some external data sources, such as weather (to account for factors like humidity and temperature). In this case, the coding skill and IT knowledge of software developers can only take you so far. They need to collaborate with manufacturing veterans to figure out how to integrate domain expertise that is specific to that manufacturing environment. In many cases, companies may conclude that there isn’t “a [single] package with all of the data I might want. There’s engineering, and perhaps data acquisition, that has to be done,” according to Anderson.

Alliance managers charged with bringing AI innovations to market must get creative and figure out which companies might possess the data sets needed to create a new AI application. Then they must use their deal-making skills to put together win-win agreements that incentivize those data proprietors to share their data sets. (We discuss this new “offering manager” role in depth in the quarterly feature.)

Anderson also spoke about the difference between early back-end technology AI alliances and partnerships designed to bring an AI solution to market—more specifically, how the former is often much simpler than the latter. Bringing together servers, development platforms, sensors, traditional enterprise applications, and data management services that will ultimately power your AI APIs could be just as simple as integrating technology pieces.

“One of the companies involved may not know what you’re using [its product] for. You just know you’re using a lot of it,” said Anderson.

Happy Selling? Easier Said Than Done

But once an ecosystem of partners starts to jointly comarket and/or cosell a product offering, another layer of complexity is added.

“The more people that you get involved, there’s a lot of people who want a slice of the pie—in other words, the revenue—so you start to get complex marketing and selling arrangements,” said Anderson. “You could have a single offering that is jointly developed with somebody else. It could be sold by either of the parties. It could be delivered by either of the parties. There could be a third company in there, as well, if they’re involved in the overall stack.”

The challenge can be summed up in one question: “How do you keep it so that all of the alliance partners are happy?” asked Anderson.

Again, in the quarterly feature we delve into some of the specific issues partners need to sort out in these situations in order to bring orderly, concise, and impactful sales presentations to prospective buyers. Check-out the print issue you received earlier this month! 

Tags:  AI  API  Artificial Intelligence  Bruce Anderson  comarket  cosell  data management services  external data  IBM  innovations  integration  Strategic Alliance Quarterly 

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Back to the…Mainframe? Not Exactly, but the Cloud Is Changing ISV-GSI Governance into a Blend of Old and New

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Friday, February 21, 2020

We’ve reached the latter stages of the editing process for the Q1 issue of Strategic Alliance Quarterly, coming out soon. As always, we have some great material that didn’t make the cut for the magazine, so we wanted to use this space to pass along some of the insights that emerged from our conversations around the evolving relationship between traditional independent software vendors (ISVs) such as SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft and global system integrators (GSIs) like Capgemini, Deloitte, and Accenture.

In the print version of the article, we talked about the concepts of “rolling adoption” and “continuous innovation.” When companies shift portions of their computing infrastructure from inside their own data centers to a public or private cloud, software is consumed much differently. In the client-server IT model that preceded cloud, ISVs would often take up to two years refining new versions of their applications to make sure they were as bug-free as possible before making them available to the public. The customer would then work with a GSI to customize that new software to their business processes. Now, however, the cloud has enabled software vendors to make updates remotely in an expedient manner. Consequently, new versions come out as rapidly as every six months, and each stakeholder—the ISV, the GSI, and the customer—understands that they will in essence be adjusting solutions on the fly to meet customer needs well after their release.

More Information, Faster, Means More Governance

A couple of the alliance experts we spoke to touched on how this phenomenon is affecting governance models, which are evolving to serve these faster, perpetual sales cycles. For example, teams meet more often and share more information than they did 15 years ago. Lisle Holgate, CSAP, senior director of strategic alliances at Avanade, a joint venture of Microsoft and Accenture, said the core teams of the alliance he works with are meeting weekly, while salespeople convene biweekly and regional leaders gather on a monthly basis to evaluate the dozen or so leads in the pipeline. Global executives get together every quarter, and even the respective CEOs huddle once a year to discuss the alliance at the broadest level.

“We have about 45 or 50 points of exchange across the breadth of the organization on a regular basis, so there’s a more organic understanding of each other,” said Holgate. “Whereas in the old days, [meetings were] about, ‘How many deals did we do? What’s in the pipeline? Okay, ready? Break.’”

To that end, the level of granularity in the information alliance partners are exchanging with each other is unprecedented today. Holgate said that marketing documentation now goes “all the way down to emails about the value proposition. That was unheard of back in the old days.”

Bill Thomas, CA-AM, an industry veteran and current alliance director who has worked in alliance programs at leading enterprise software vendors and global GSIs, has observed a shift toward alliance program governance models specified by software vendors and away from those originated by GSIs as the cloud has taken root. Two decades ago, when GSIs were counted on to significantly customize large-vendor software in on-premise deployments, potential clients calculated cultural, resource, and process fits based heavily on GSI governance models because the GSI's implementation methodologies were foundational to the project’s success. 

Now, software vendors see an obligation to prescribe the governance model and deployment methodology as a way to ensure delivery quality, and they’re telling GSIs, “‘This is how our program works,’” said Thomas. “Alliance structure and governance are codified in the agreement [with the software vendor] in order to promote delivery quality and consistency.  Also, having a standard, repeatable process ensures fairness in the ecosystem and supports the ability to scale the business to meet the demands of rapid growth.” 

What’s Old Is New Again

Steve Blacklock, CA-AM, vice president of global strategic alliances at Citrix, saw parallels between today’s cloud-managed IT model and the old days of the mainframe, the predominant computing model of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in that “you don’t have to own the whole thing, you can just provision what you want, it’s secure and separated from everything else, and you can pay for what you need,” and he surmised that “the way partnerships, channel, and GSIs behave in [cloud] markets [is] probably analogous to the way things were done before [in the days of the mainframe], too.”

As he said this, Blacklock waved his hands apart and together like an accordion to illustrate how the ISV-GSI relationship has “come together and fractured and come together again” as computing transitioned from the mainframe to the client-server model that took root in the 1990s to this emerging cloud model. He pointed out that in the 1960s, IBM would essentially play the role GSIs play today by supporting the mainframe the customer bought from it and managing the client’s processes, and then speculated on whether the “Big Three” public cloud service providers (CSPs)—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP)—might fulfill this role in the future, thereby cutting out GSIs.   

“They’re not there yet, but I could see a day where [Microsoft] Azure says, ‘If you need to run SAP in Azure, come here, sign this contract, and we’ll provision it for you, we’ll get your networking there, we’ll make sure it’s up and running, we’ll support the software—we’ll give you what you need and you’ll pay for it as you use it.’ Well, how is that any different from what IBM was doing with the mainframe?” 

This is just a small slice of what we learned from ASAP members in the trenches of these software vendor–integrator alliances. Be on the lookout for the Q1 edition of ASAP’s flagship magazine Strategic Alliance Quarterly to learn more about the changing dynamics of the ISV-GSI relationship. 

Tags:  Accentura  Amazon Web Services (AWS)  Avanade  Bill Thomas  Citrix  Cloud  cloud-managed IT model  Google Cloud Platform (GCP)  IBM  ISV-GSI Governance  ISV-GSI relationship  Lisle Holgate  Microsoft  Steve Blacklock  Strategic Alliance Quarterly 

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Alignment, Agility, and ‘Leadership IQ’ | Alliance leaders always have driven alignment. But what do we do differently, as disruption accelerates?

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, November 27, 2019

As an alliance leader, I used to spend 70 percent of my time not working with partners, but working on aligning internally. The concept of creating value through partnering was brand new for our leaders. We’d never walk into a meeting without a pre-meeting. Building alignment stole time away from creating new value with partners—yet it was critically important to delivering the value intended when the alliance was created.

Much has changed in alliance management—but driving alignment remains a central task of alliance leaders.

Indeed, research indicates the highest performing alliance leaders are “ambassadors” who bridge boundaries both internally as well as externally. They focus “on dialoguing with superiors and other stakeholders, proactively putting themselves on the agenda of their leaders, and managing behaviors,” according to Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, professor at Loyola University Maryland.

That makes sense—but what about time for externally facing alliance management?

Applying agile principles to partnering reflects a broad understanding in our profession that alliance management cannot afford to accrete more bureaucracy and process. Instead, how can we simplify the activities and processes of driving alignment so that partnering can become more agile? That seems essential to proceed effectively in the ecosystem—where it’s just not possible for there to be 100 percent alignment.

Complex models once helped us describe, in comprehensive detail, the complicated work and rich value created in the alliance management function. Alliance leaders have always looked for simplified means to explain the complexity of partner value creation. Back in the day, we used our STAR model to define Situations, Tasks, Actions, and Results—simplifying our alignment discussions as much as possible.

Today, partnering leaders look to jettison complexity wherever they can, seeking shortcuts in the traditional alliance lifecycle and technologies to further streamline alliance activities. It is the embodiment of Albert Einstein’s famous admonishment: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” At its roots, then, agility is about changing how we think.

“Growth is a thinking game,” said Salesforce evangelist Tiffani Bova, author of Growth IQ. I would add that alliance management is a thinker’s profession. As our profession both expands and evolves in direct response to pervasive disruption, our most critical and differentiating skill remains our “leadership IQ.” It defines how we understand the transformation of business and its implications for partnering practice.

“In the advancing era of artificial intelligence, companies need to create all the pieces—and alliances—necessary to make it easy to adapt for the advancement of products,” said Bruce Anderson, IBM’s general manager, high tech/electronics industry. “You need to ask how your company should be thinking about alliances in this accelerating business approach,” he emphasized. “Alliances have become fundamental to the idea of strategy.”

Anderson’s and Bova’s points reinforced each other in a powerful way, I thought. How we think, the choices (and sequence of choices) we make, and how quickly and efficiently we can make decisions all matter. Alliance managers must improve their “leadership IQ” to better understand the big picture of disruption, how it will create value or threaten loss of market share—and how, “in this accelerating business approach,” they will drive alignment accordingly.

Tags:  accelerating  agile  aligning creating value  alliance leader  alliance management  alliances  artificial intelligence  Bruce Anderson  Dave Luvison  drive alignment  Growth IQ  IBM  leadership IQ  Loyola University Maryland  partnering alliance  partners  strategy  Tiffani Bova 

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The Tsunami Effect of AI on Partnering—Part 1 of the 2019 ASAP Summit Keynote Address

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, March 22, 2019

How do you align for the era of smart?  “Let’s put smart to work” was the mantra Bruce Anderson chose for his keynote address “Partnering in the AI Era: An Essential Shift from Value Chains to Business Ecosystems” at the recent 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Anderson is IBM’s global managing director, global electronics industry, and he painted a vision that appeared highly relevant to alliance managers and their associates in the packed room.

“In my world, with the scope of clients, there is almost [always] an alliance idea that happens several times a day,” Anderson said, setting the stage for his address. “We put a lot of structure around that. I have seen that structure help us define these alliances and what they could do.”

The market is moving so fast from a linear to dynamic approach that you need to ask how your company should be thinking about alliances in this accelerating business approach, he stated. “IBM figured out a long time ago you have to partner, and the real value of companies like IBM is to bring the pieces together to create business value. That’s where the ecosystem comes into play.”

Anderson then provided some context: Design cycles for hardware took years, but now technology development is going faster and faster. As companies come into this space, they need to leverage what they’ve created by “reaching out to a broader ecosystem to create value. The approach is getting more open,” he pointed out. “This is only going to accelerate. The change is not only how products are brought together, but also how they partner in the marketplace.”

In this climate, alliance managers need make sure ideas are aligned “because a lot of thought went into the idea of strategy to get momentum for the alliance in the company. We use the word cognitive. You can use the world AI. We think about augmented intelligence and using data to make life—at work and at home—better. This is done most effectively in the Cloud. So there has been a lot of change for us since the ‘80s. But the context for what this is useful for is industries.”

In the advancing era of artificial intelligence (AI), companies need to create all the pieces—and alliances—necessary to make it easy to adapt for the advancement of products, he said. “Alliances have become fundamental to the idea of strategy. How has IBM shifted over the years?” he then asked, flashing a slide of a revenue chart IBM put together years ago with the overarching header “Over 50% of IBM revenue will come from Cloud and Cognitive Solutions in the near future.” Anderson then followed with a slide on AI “emerging across ecosystems … everywhere,” that was broken into three categories:

  • AI-enabled engagement
  • AI-enabled analytics
  • AI-enabled operations

AI seems to have an unlimited number of applications, and Anderson talked about a small handful of which IBM has been partnering on: digital farming, block chain (which prevents waste), mapping the microbiome, sensor detection of pathogens, and radical recycling. A discussion then took place about the multiple benefits of AI in IBM’s Food Trust.

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s live, onsite coverage of this session and others from 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. Cynthia B. Hanson is managing editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications. 

Tags:  AI-enabled engagement  alliance managers  Artificial Intellegence  block chain  Bruce Anderson  Cloud  cognitive Solutions  design cycles  digital farming  ecosystem  global electronics  IBM  partner 

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‘From Value Chains to Business Ecosystems’: Featured Presenters from IBM, Salesforce, Dassault Systemes, and SAIC Join the Lineup for 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By John M. DeWitt, Friday, January 18, 2019

This week ASAP announced the lineup of featured speakers at the March 11-13, 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in a press release distributed via PRWeb.

“Each year’s Summit is a one-of-a-kind event where the world’s most experienced and capable partnering and alliance management executives share successful practices and lessons learned from their business collaborations,” ASAP President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, said in the announcement. “The 2019 Summit will include the incredibly smart and provocative speakers, hands-on learning, and candid peer-to-peer conversations that participants experience at ASAP’s other annual destination events—the BioPharma Conference, Tech Partner Forum, and European Alliance Summit. But there are unique connections and insights that only come from the ASAP Global Alliance Summit’s diversity. In a time of rapidly expanding cross-industry alliances, public-private partnerships, and customer-centered collaborative ecosystems, the Summit attracts leading thinkers and practitioners from many industries, sectors, and geographies, allowing attendees to glean insights, engage with surprising new ideas, and even meet unexpected new partners.”

This year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit will take place March 11-13, 2019, at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Platinum Sponsors of the event include Vantage Partners and WorkSpan; The Rhythm of Business is a Gold Sponsor. Headlining speakers include:

  • Bruce Anderson, general manager, high-tech/electronics industry, IBM
  • Christine Carberry, CSAP, chief operating officer, biopharmaceutical senior executive
  • Steve Levine, PhD, Dassault Systèmes, founder and executive director, Living Heart Project
  •  Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist, Salesforce
  • Charles Onstott, chief technology officer, SAIC

Bruce Anderson: “Partnering in the AI Era”

On the morning of March 12, as part of the conference opening session, Bruce Anderson will present a plenary talk titled “Partnering in the AI Era: An Essential Shift from Value Chains to Business Ecosystems.” He intends to share his deep understanding of marketplace opportunities and challenges facing companies, describing what he’s learned as he consults extensively with senior executives striving to optimize and transform their organizations, operations, and business models.

After lunch on March 12, four speakers will present TED-talk-style presentations during the 2019 Summit’s Leadership Spotlight plenary session.

Christine Carberry, CSAP: Maximizing Value

Is it a lack of time, resources, or ideas that holds back fulfilling the maximum value of alliances? Perhaps all these ingredients are available in abundance and what is lacking is the ability to connect the right ideas with the right resources at the right time, Carberry intends to explore. The concept is simple—find the right connections, collaborate on a common goal, and create value. Executing against this simple concept is far from easy. In this session, Carberry will talk about how to strengthen connections, improve collaboration, and increase value creation in alliances and beyond.

Steve Levine, PhD: The Living Heart Project

In the US, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. What if a virtual replica of your heart could be created, imitating its unique electrical impulses, muscle fiber contractions, and abnormalities? Valuable insights on human heart function could accelerate breakthroughs delivered to clinical practice. Dr. Levine will describe his methodology to unite the world's leading cardiovascular researchers, medical industry innovators, regulatory agencies, and practicing cardiologists on a shared mission to develop accurate personalized digital human heart models.

Tiffani Bova: “Growth IQ” and Partnering

Customers demand a seamless experience, regardless of who makes the sale. Profitable and sustainable business growth is top of mind in and around all industries. Alliance managers must develop their "Growth IQ" to meet today's business demands. Pulling from the 10 proven paths highlighted in her Wall Street Journal Best Seller book, Growth IQ: Get Smarter about the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Bova will present customer-centric best practices and pivot points for partnering executives and their companies to consider.

Charles Onstott: Partnering to Help the US Government Move at Startup Speeds

Not known as an early adopter, many parts of the US government have been pushing for easier acquisition of new technology. SAIC, as a technology integrator, strives to help emerging technology companies expand into government business—and thereby bring valuable capabilities that benefit the government. Onstott plans to discuss SAIC’s partner engagement model, share lessons learned in establishing relationships with emerging technology companies, and provide examples of what worked and did not work well.

The 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit will take place March 11-13, 2019, at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Platinum Sponsors of the event include Vantage Partners and WorkSpan. The Rhythm of Business is a Gold Sponsor. For more information and to register for the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, please visit http://asapsummit.org. To learn more, read the complete ASAP press release distributed via PRWeb and stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s preview coverage of the Summit in Strategic Alliance magazines and on the ASAP Blog.

John M. DeWitt is a contributing writer and editor for ASAP Media. 

Tags:  2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit  alliances  Business Ecosystems  Charles Onstott  Christine Carberry  collaborative ecosystems  Dassault Systemes  IBM  partner  SAIC  Salesforce  Steve Levine  Tiffani Bova  Value Chains 

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