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Keeping Pace with the Internet of Things: Walking the Post-Disruption Walk While Transforming Partnerships

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Monday, March 23, 2015

Like Mickey’s brooms in the film “Fantasia,” the Internet of Things has multiplied into a labyrinth of complexity accompanied by its companion—disruption. “As disruptive technology takes hold, companies not used to partnering together are forced to do so, and it’s up to alliance managers to forge these alliances as leaders and define the swim lanes between companies,” said Tony DeSpirito, vice president of global alliances at Schneider Electric during the session on “Transforming Partnering Post Disruption” at the 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA. 

 

“The greatest challenge we are facing right now as we look forward strategically is issues around the Internet of Things—I’m talking about control systems that operate in the infrastructure. It’s forcing Schneider to partner with different companies we’re not used to. We are being forced to partner with folks that own the digital world. For us, every day, it’s how do we connect the physical world with the digital world? How do we connect Schneider Electric with IBM?” he concluded.

 

For the company worth $30 billion (US) and its 15-person global alliance team, it’s a major puzzle. “Alliance is not core to the strategy of Schneider,” he admits, but digital disruption has forced the company to add an alliance manager to the corporate executive committee.

 

Schneider’s challenge points out a critical alliance question: How do we lead with a velocity of change that is happening at such a rate that is not business as usual? asks  Lorin Coles, CSAP and CEO of the consulting and training company Alliancesphere. “Not doing anything is not acceptable. Companies like IBM are reorganizing from top to bottom. Other companies are trying to change customer buying behavior. If we can solve this customer problem, then the ecosystems and partners support that.”

 

Don’t be afraid. Embrace the change,” chimed in Laura Voglino, general manager of IBM’s ecosystems and social business, who has experienced major disruption and transition at IBM. “It will take you to great things on a personal level because it keeps you vital and great for your companies and in the market.”

 

IBM changed the whole cloud structure with a huge focus and substantial team, she explains. “What really caught us by surprise was the velocity of the transformation and adoption.”

 

More than 90 percent of budgets in data centers are being put into cloud, she adds. The buying behavior of clients is changing, and there is a much greater focus on developers. “We needed to change our view of partnership to catch those cloud developers. We needed to open the scope to have venture capitalists. We needed to work with startups. These guys are bringing a lot of innovation that our clients are very thirsty for. Every time we think of alliances we think of Apple and IBM. But there’s a different level, a different dynamic. We just announced Citibank and IBM partnering, going to the market to activate developers to serve Citibank. This is a different system.”

 

We needed to get people enthusiastic about the start-up guys, ask what the vision is, and ask how to break the inertia of the immediate results. “Inertia is the worst enemy. When you have disruption, the worse you do during disruption time, the better it is to change,” she concludes.

 

With the Internet of Things, if you don’t get revenue, look at the activity or pipeline. And if you don’t have that, then look at lighthouse accounts—those accounts that will bring you revenue in 2016-2018.  “It’s incumbent upon us to stand up and show true leadership. As alliance managers, to be leaders you need to say 100 times to the same people, you will see revenue!” says DeSpirito.  “We don’t need to be the fastest bear. The winner of the Internet of Things is a group of kids in China that developed a remote control way to control forest fires. All of the innovation we are talking about is API [Application Programming Interface].”

Tags:  alliance managers  Alliancesphere  API  Apple  Citibank  cloud  disruption  IBM  Internet of things  Laura Voglino  Lorin Coles  Schneider Electric  start-ups  Tony DeSpirito 

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New England Chapter Event Discusses Alliance Management amidst Disruption: ‘You’ve Got to Be Strategic, You’ve Got to Be Entrepreneurial, You’ve Got to Be Adaptable’

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moderator Jan Twombly, president of The Rhythm of Business, introduced the panelists last Wednesday night, Nov. 5, as ASAP’s New England Chapter convened at the Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass. USA: Petra Sansom, head of alliance management, Genzyme; Alyssa Rosinski, global business development director, IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals); Kathy Faigen, Certified Client Executive, IBM; and Tony DeSpirito, VP, Global Alliances—IT Partners, Schneider Electric.

 

Twombly’s vivid opening slide—two planets in collision—acknowledged the challenging context of the evening’s topic, “Alliance Management in an Age of Disruption: Today’s Critical Partnering Success Factors.” Twombly then flashed four percentages on the screen: 92% … 68% … 42% … and 53%.

 

“Recent studies say 92% of chief marketing officers are looking to partner to get closer to customers and better understand them,” Twombly explained. “68% of chief information officers are partnering to bring additional capability to their organization,” she continued, noting that IBM studies are the source for these two data points. “42% represents CEOs in last year’s PwC survey who said they were going to enter into a significant strategic alliance within the next year.”

 

Finally, 53% represents that very familiar data point for anyone involved in alliance management—the virtually unchanged success rate for strategic alliances despite the proliferation of alliances and alliance management practice across most industries. “It is so clear that alliance management has to step up its game as partnering proliferates,” Twombly said. With her final slide, she asked her panel of expert practitioners, “So what’s changing for alliance managers—do the fundamentals still apply or do they need to change as our businesses change?”

 

Panelists then dived into the discussion—bringing diverse perspectives to an exploration of why alliance management matters more than ever today, yet must adapt if partner success rates are to improve.  Tony DeSpirito discussed how Schneider Electric—confronted with major disruption around the internet of things—moved beyond its stodgy infrastructure company heritage, recognized that it lacked many capabilities, and embraced partnering across both its traditional and emerging business lines. IBM’s Kathy Faigen discussed how her company developed a coherent approach to the disruptive technologies of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) while honing in on the crucial role of engagement, with customers and other constituents, in allowing businesses to successfully embrace unrelenting waves of change. Petra Sansom shared with the audience how Genzyme, a powerhouse biotechnology company now owned by Sanofi, is evolving its partnering strategy as it, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry overall, grapple with pricing pressure from all around the world.

 

Alyssa Rosinski rounded out the discussion with her organization’s interesting lens on disruption. Privacy challenges are exploding thanks to ubiquitous connection, mobile device proliferation, whistleblower disclosures (think Edward Snowden) and correspondingly magnified risks of exposure that companies of all types now face when handling personally identifiable information, she explained. In the face of this challenge, over just the past few years, IAPP membership has grown from 8,000 to more than 20,000.

 

When partnering amidst disruption, DeSpirito said, it’s vitally important to ensure that your partnering is tied to overall strategy—and to do that requires a strategic review of the portfolio, making sure you’ve got the right partners aligned to your company strategy . Faigen talked about the critical importance of ensuring you’ve got the right value proposition for your customer as well as for the partners. It’s never been more important to rethink, to relook at it, and make sure the value proposition remains relevant, she explained.  

 

Wednesday night’s panelists also talked about importance of governance and metrics.

 

“That can be harder to do amidst disruption, because people are so crazily busy, so it’s hard to make the time to plan, to evaluate, it can be hard to think beyond the current crisis or meeting the current quarter’s numbers,” Twombly noted. “I think some of it is a maturing of the alliance capability, where people are recognizing the importance of having good governance. In biopharma, governance is in the contract but that’s not always the case in other industries.”

 

The final question of the night went to Alyssa Rosinski. Asked what quality or skill she is finding essential, she said that adaptability is at the top of her list.

 

Adaptability is, not surprisingly, crucial for alliance managers, who must “understand your partners’ needs, understand what your organization needs, understand what the customer needs, and be flexible and adaptable about how you’re going to get your result,” Twombly said in summarizing the discussion.

 

“In other words, you’ve got to be strategic, you’ve got to be entrepreneurial, you’ve got to be the expert,” she said. “You’re the one who needs to know everything about your partner, to represent the partner within your company, and everything about your company, to represent it to the partner. You’re the only one who has that big picture view, and that’s part of the expectations of senior management today.”

Tags:  alliance management  Alyssa Rosinski  ASAP’s New England Chapter  biopharma  disruption  Genzyme  governance  IAPP  IBM  Jan Twombly  Kathy Faigen  Petra Sansom  Schneider Electric  SMAC  The Rhythm of Business  Tony DeSpirito  Verizon Innovation Center 

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