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A Virtual Event, but a Rich, Living Community—Thanks to You!

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What a day! And what a Summit!

Thursday, the final day of the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, was filled with highlights, and served as a resounding demonstration that the ASAP community is alive and well and that the whole organization and its members and staff are supremely flexible and able to pivot from an in-person gathering to a very successful virtual event.

Flexibility and agility, in fact, were two of the recurring themes of this year’s Summit, and its last day was no exception. The day’s livestream programming began with an in-depth panel discussion, “Biopharma Commercial Alliance Management Challenges,” skillfully moderated by Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, and featuring eminent panelists Brooke Paige, CSAP, former vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics and ASAP board chair; David S. Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; and Andrew Yeomans, CSAP, global alliance lead for UCB.

Aligning Around the North Star

Commercial alliances are the go-to-market phase of biopharma partnering, and thus there’s often a lot riding on their success or failure. The panelists discussed various aspects of delivering value from commercial alliances given the business risks, human risks, and legal uncertainties; the prospect of misalignment between partners; the perils of operating in different geographic regions with their varying cultures and regulations; the need for speed and flexibility; and other pitfalls.

Amid such challenges, alliance managers have to keep their eyes on the prize—or, as Paige put it, “It always goes back to the basics: providing alignment by constantly pointing to the North Star of the alliance.”

Twombly noted that bringing partners together to hash out a commercial strategy to maximize value coming from the alliance—and then implementing it effectively—is always “the crux of the matter.”

Yeomans, citing an alliance that operated in China as well as other experiences, said the constantly accelerating speed of events means that even the most experienced alliance managers end up “learning on the job.” “Things are so much more immediate in the real world,” he said. “A lot of things can happen fast.”

More than one panelist mentioned the human element in these alliances—from training alliance professionals to dealing with human risk and misalignment. “It comes down to, do you have the right people?” Paige said. “You have to have the right people with the right mindset” to make the alliance work effectively.

Driving alignment, according to Yeomans, happens in “three buckets”: formal (contract terms), semiformal (governance), and informal, which includes both performing regular health checks and doing the internal work of alignment to “get your own house in order.” In this way issues get turned around and resolved, and escalation is avoided. “This is where alliance management can really come to the fore and add value,” he said.

He also urged alliance managers to work toward achieving a “complementary fit” in the partnership and to “be a conduit” between global and regional representatives and between partners. “Be adaptable and be ahead of the curve. In this way you become almost the go-to person,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Yeomans said he could “wholeheartedly recommend” getting into commercial alliances. “Venture forth. Go forth and conquer!” he exhorted.

Influencers, Referral Partners, Resellers, and Customers

The next presentation in today’s livestream was also concerned with go-to-market partnering, albeit geared more toward the tech industry—but with broader applicability as well. Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group, spoke on “Making Everyone a Part of the Sales Process”—and by “everyone” he meant not just resellers, but also influencers and referral partners. All have a role to play, and if handled correctly, all contribute to the eventual sale and the booking of revenue.

In fact, the customer should also be included in this continuum, as a satisfied customer could be converted into an influencer, or even a referrer, according to Walsh. He quoted one of his “heroes,” Peter Drucker—no doubt a hero to some others in the ASAP community—who said, “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.”

“That’s why we have channels,” Walsh elaborated. “You try to create points of sale as close to the customer as possible.”

Walsh reminded the audience that the oft-mentioned “customer journey” is in reality just “part of the totality of their experience,” in which even if they’re not buying your brand, they’re still making judgments on it one way or the other. Thus it’s important to try to effectively engage everyone along the continuum from influencers to referrers to resellers to customers because, while expectations should not be overestimated, successful referral programs can be very effective. “Referrals have a lot of power!” Walsh enthused.

Since customers who are happy with a product or solution can become influencers, and influencers can become referrers, and a referral partner may even seem to be a sort of “lightweight reseller” in Walsh’s phrase, this seems to ring true. It also dovetailed with something that Tiffani Bova of Salesforce said on the first day of this year’s Summit: “Your greatest sales force is your customers and partners advocating on your behalf.”

Partner to Partner in the Ecosystem Cloud

“Customers and partners” was a theme of the day’s final presentation as well. Amit Sinha, chief customer officer and cofounder of WorkSpan, and Dan Rippey, director of engineering for Microsoft's One Commercial Partner program, gave a presentation with the lengthy title “How the Microsoft Partner-to-Partner Program Is Disrupting How Technology Companies Are Leveraging the Power of Ecosystems to Grow Their Business, Acquire New Customers, and Gain Competitive Advantage.”

It’s a mouthful, no doubt, but Sinha and Rippey provided some great insights into, first, how WorkSpan uses its Ecosystem Cloud product to help alliance managers, channel partners—really anyone who puts partners together and seeks to manage and keep track of a multipartner ecosystem—both collaborate better and gain greater visibility into the tasks, activities, processes, pipelines, workflows, etc., that are creating value.

Sinha noted that traditionally, “a lot of partnering is meeting people.” Current conditions certainly make that challenging—our Summit being no exception—but he said that with Ecosystem Cloud, remote work becomes more possible and effective and “we can scale even in COVID times.” In addition, as partnerships become more multi-way and complex, these tools become even more necessary. “It’s shifting toward an ecosystem,” he said. “It’s multipartner.”

Among the major partners in this ecosystem is Microsoft, which is where Rippey comes in. As Microsoft has shifted over the years from selling products to selling more solution-based offerings, it has also shifted from an emphasis on individual partnerships—or “pick a partner to work with the customer,” as he said—to more collaborative solution creation and selling arrangements involving multiple partners.

Microsoft realized that it needed to encourage partner-to-partner—or P2P—collaboration in order to push the company forward and grow the ecosystem. It needed to “embrace multiparty conversations,” in Rippey’s words. “In some cases Microsoft just gets out of the way. It really puts the partners at the center of the conversation.” In other cases, Microsoft comes back to the table as needed, but either way, he said, “This puts the partner in the lead.”

When a new solution is discussed, the first question is, “Did somebody already build this?” In that case those partners can be pulled in to tailor the solution to the new end customer in mind. Otherwise, “is this an opportunity,” Rippey said, to design something new?

He noted that while Microsoft doesn’t always have to lead these discussions, they seem to be fruitful in any case, and the P2P program has led to “exponential growth.” Some of its new capabilities will be “lighting up for our partners next year,” he said. “It is Microsoft’s joy to see those partners succeed, [often] without needing our help.”

New Thinking at the New Breakfast Table

This does not come without new thinking, or at times “uncomfortable” negotiations or conversations, Rippey admitted. But he said it forces a large enterprise like Microsoft to be “putting [our] startup hat on again” and to get out and “hustle at all tiers of the ecosystem.” As is often the case in the IT world, some of Microsoft’s competitors are also involved, because “we’re better together.”

And while the P2P platform—just like a social media site—is in need of “moderation,” as Sinha put it, so that there are rules and community norms and some structure, it’s also important to be fairly straightforward about your company’s needs, capabilities, and interests.

“A negotiation is designed to be uncomfortable,” Rippey said. “Be up front, be blunt about what you need, and be OK to say, ‘It looks like we’re misaligned here.’”

Both Sinha and Rippey commented on the need for speed, agility, and flexibility in working with partners, especially in the current pandemic conditions.

“The nature of collaboration has always been getting together to do things,” Sinha said. “Getting together in a room, in each other’s offices, to do joint business planning. Now we have to do more remote collaboration.”

Rippey noted that Microsoft itself had to transition its usual annual “show” from in-person in Las Vegas to virtual this year, which he said was “incredibly hard to do.” But, he added, “It’s not about the show, it’s about the conversations in the hallways. You walk into breakfast and you have nothing, but you sit down next to someone and you walk out of breakfast and you have something—a connection, a business card. It’s really hard to do digitally, and you can’t do it without a platform. We’re providing that new breakfast table.”

Here’s hoping we can all meet again before long over breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a beverage to share insights and stories and to make connections. But until that time, it’s nice to know that we can meet virtually as members of the ASAP community and still get the benefits of sharing all the great wisdom, information, and learning that so many have been able to contribute.

Tags:  aligning  Alliance Management  Amit Sinha  Andrew Yeomans  Biopharma  Brooke Paige  channel  cloud  Commercial  Dan Rippey  David S. Thompson  ecosystem  Eli Lilly and Company  Influencers  Jan Twombly  Larry Walsh  Microsoft  Referral Partners  The 2112 Group  The Rhythm of Business  UCB  WorkSpan 

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It’s Nearly Here! ASAP’s Virtual Summit About to Start

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Saturday, June 20, 2020

Have you registered yet? I hope so, because it’s almost here. ASAP’s first-ever virtual Global Alliance Summit begins Tuesday, June 23, with livestream sessions running June 23–25 and on-demand sessions available—well, on demand, anytime you want to view them.

As usual, the leading lights in alliance management and partnering will be sharing their insights with the ASAP community, along with some special guests who will provide a look into aspects of the partnering landscape you may be less familiar with.

People like Dr. Louis B. Harrison, MD, FASTRO, of the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. He’s the chair of the center’s radiation oncology department, but he also happens to be its chief partnership officer, and he’ll be talking about the kinds of partnerships a cancer center engages in and the challenges and opportunities that arise from those engagements. He’ll be leading off day one of the Summit, along with Tiffani Bova, growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, whose presentation, “The Untapped Gold Mine of Building Trust, Unconventional Affiliations, and Iteration-Based Partnerships,” looks to be a highlight.

And by the way, aren’t you itching to know the winners of the Alliance Excellence Awards? I know I am, and fortunately the waiting is almost over as these exemplary partnerships will be showcased on the first day as well, with Ard-Pieter de Man, CSAP, PhD, professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and coauthor of the recent book How to Survive the Organizational Revolution, handing out the awards.

Day two will see a presentation by Steve Steinhilber, global vice president ecosystem development at Equinix—and an alliance and ecosystem veteran with years of experience at Cisco under his belt—called “Creating Alliances and Digital Ecosystem Capabilities in an Increasingly Platform-Enabled and Interconnected World.” This will be followed by what should be a fascinating panel discussion moderated by Jessica Wadd of Vantage Partners and featuring panelists from across industries, “Managing Power Imbalances: How to Navigate Partnerships Between Large and Small Organizations.” (Does that sound like a perennial topic of interest?) Finally, Wednesday will also boast a talk by Carl DCosta, worldwide general manager of partner success at Blue Yonder, “Foundation for Partner Success in the Digital World.”

Thursday kicks off with another panel, this one moderated by Jan Twombly, president of The Rhythm of Business, dealing with commercial-stage alliances in biopharma and their challenges and featuring nearly a who’s who of pharma alliance leaders: ASAP’s board chair Brooke Paige, formerly vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics; David S. Thompson, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; and Andrew Yeomans, global alliance lead at UCB. In addition, Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst at The 2112 Group, will speak on how to include everyone in the sales process in today’s interconnected, omni-channel, partnering-everywhere world, while Dan Rippey of Microsoft and Amit Singh of WorkSpan will give an inside look at how Microsoft’s partner-to-partner (P2P) program works to connect the ecosystem and power business growth and competitive advantage.

OK, that’s the three days in a nutshell—but that’s just the livestream content. Did I mention on-demand sessions? The list is extensive, and you’ll want to check a good number of them out. Like these:

  • Session 301: “The Profit Power of Collaboration,” by Robert Porter Lynch, The Warren Company
  • Session 403:  “Resiliency in Alliance Management: How Amgen-UCB Managed the ‘Roller Coaster Ride’ of a Long-standing Alliance,” by Tracy Blois, Amgen; and Alistair Dixon, UCB
  • Session 404: “Integrated Joint Alliance Marketing Best Practices: How to Establish Joint Marketing Moments That Drive Impact,” by Liz Fuller, Citrix
  • Session 501: “How 5G Will Transform and Disrupt Business and Partners,” moderated by Stacy Conrad, TPx, with panelists Manoj Bhatia, Verizon; Pradeep Bhardwaj, Syniverse; and Andreas Westh, Ericsson
  • Session 503:  “Marketplaces: The New Buying Centers in the Age of As-a-Service,” by Glen Kuhne, Ingram Cloud Blue; and Roger Williams, Citrix
  • Session 504:  “The Strategic Partner Executive of the Future and the Skills Needed for Success,” moderated by Norma Watenpaugh, Phoenix Consulting Group, with panelists Rafael Contreras, ServiceNow; Jim Chow, Google Cloud; and Greg Fox, WorkSpan
  • Session 602: “Demystifying the Ecosystem: An Interactive Conversation,” by Claudia Kuzma, Protiviti; and Nancy Ridge, Ridge Innovative
  • Session 702: “Big Pharma M&A and Alliance Portfolios,” moderated by Adam Kornetsky, Vantage Partners, with panelists Mark Coflin and Jeff Hurley, Takeda; Dana Hughes, Pfizer; and Chris Urban, Amgen
  • Session 703: “Absorbing and Facilitating Change: Managing Your Partner Program During Organizational Upheaval,” by Ben Anderson and Susan Cleveland, Thomson Reuters

And while there’s nothing like “being there”—in this case virtually—whether you’re able to participate in the livestream presentations, on-demand sessions, and interactive roundtables that are part of this year’s Summit, you’ll want to check this space during the coming days and weeks, as my colleague Jon Lavietes and I will be blogging both livestream and on-demand sessions to give those who missed it a taste of what’s going on. We hope to whet some appetites for more of this kind of programming, as well as to showcase some of the great content on offer at this year’s virtual Summit.

So tune in, and stay tuned! 

Tags:  Amit Singh  Blue Yonder  Carl DCosta  Dan Rippey  Equinix  Larry Walsh  Louis Harrison  Microsoft  Moffitt Cancer Center  Salesforce  Steve Steinhilber  The 2112 Group  The Rhythm of Business  Tiffani Bova  Vantage Partners  WorkSpan 

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Unaligned Is the New Black in Partners

Posted By Larry Walsh, CEO and Chief Analyst of The 2112 Group., Monday, August 1, 2016
Updated: Sunday, July 31, 2016

More solution providers and resellers are forgoing vendor loyalty in favor of independence based on their own technical prowess and business savvy. What they lack in loyalty, they make up for in influence.

Defined by autonomy, these are the partners that align with vendors, but keep loyalty out of the mix. It’s not that they don’t value loyalty, or that they deem vendors untrustworthy. It’s just that they feel more comfortable flying solo. On the flip side, some of these partners won’t align themselves with any vendor at all.

Aligned partners without loyalty are putting their capabilities and services first. They see their value and viability in their intrinsic technology skills, domain expertise, and problem-solving capabilities. They’ve grown tired of the sales treadmill in which they earn pennies on the dollar for shilling products, and still have to perform services to make money. Maintaining vendor relationships comes with a partnership tax – the need to comply with expensive and distracting training, certification, and performance requirements. Instead, they’re letting the volume resellers – CDW, SHI, and Insight, for example – sell the product, and then they clean up by delivering the services.

Another facet of today’s vendor community that’s fueling independence in the technology channel is turmoil. As vendors go through difficult transitions – evolving business models, disruptive competition, and so forth – that chaos trickles down to the partner level. Some would rather sit and observe than get tossed into the storm.

Read the full 2112 Group article, Unaligned Is the New Black in Partners

ASAP Corporate Member, EPPP and guest blogger, Larry Walsh is CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group.

Tags:  Larry Walsh  partners  solution providers  technology channel  The 2112 Group  vendors 

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Spring 2016 Issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine: Comprehensive of the 2016 Summit, Certification’s Impact on Your Career, and an In-Depth Look at Bridging Cultural Differences

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, May 6, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Spring 2016 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine, formerly called the Q1 issue, introduces readers to some new and exciting features that were added to programming at the March 1-4 2016 Global Alliance Summit, “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. This issue’s cover story highlights one of these innovative new offerings: An intensive two-hour session of Cultural Roundtables, where participants explored cultural aspects of a region in relation to business acumen, with the focus this year on China, Latin America, and India. The roundtables are certain to become a regular feature at future ASAP conferences and summits.

 

The issue also includes nine pages of photographs and news from the Summit, including coverage of an outstanding conference keynote address by Intel’s Jonathan Ballon “Partnering: The Connective Tissue of the Internet of Things.” The keynote was followed by the 2016 Alliance Excellence Awards Ceremony, which included several new awards given to outstanding companies and individuals for their contributions to ASAP.  Among the recipients was Jan Twombly, CSAP, of The Rhythm of Business, who was presented with the Guiding Light Award for many years of exceptional volunteer contributions to ASAP programming.

 

Four captivating “ASAP Quick Takes” talks are also covered: Anne Nelson of IBM Watson on What is Watson Teaching Us About Building a Partner Ecosystem;” John Bell of Johnson & Johnson Consumer on “Creating Partnering Opportunities thought Open Innovation;” Marcus Wilson of HeathCore, Inc. on “The Alliance Professional as Intrapreneur; Lawrence Walsh of the 2112 Group on “Seeing Around Corners is a Masterful Move on the Partnering Chessboard.” The talks were accompanied by a new, lively session “Quick Take Roundtables,” which allowed participants to zero in on a topic of choice from 26 offerings led by industry leaders and ASAP members.

 

In the Up Front column “Every Day We Write the Book,” ASAP President and CEO Mike Leonetti describes ASAP’s new chapter in the evolution of alliance management.In chapter one, ASAP’s early days, we defined the need for professional alliance management,” he writes. “The second chapter was figuring out this function with repeatable process—and thereby dramatically improving alliance success rates. Now we have to improve the speed and reach of partnering to make it an organizational capability. That’s chapter three.”

 

In this issue’s Your Career feature, I interview several alliance managers on their “Aha” moments when obtaining CSAP and CA-AM certification: How it has boosted their confidence, contacts, and abilities. There’s also another thoughtful and practical Eli Lilly & Co. Editorial Supplement that offers advice on how to build an effective ethics and compliance program with an alliance. Finally, in The Close, we hear from the late, great Peter Drucker in “What Would Drucker Say?”a stark reminder for us all of the relevance today of the crystal ball predictions and sage advice of one of America’s most renowned business gurus. Which is why we think this issue of SAM belongs not only in company coffee klatches, but also in corporate boardrooms.

Tags:  alliance management  Anne Nelson  ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  Eli Lilly & Co.  HealthCore Inc.  IBM Watson  Intel  Internet of Things Group  Jan Twombly  John Bell  Johson & Johnson Consumer  Jonathan Ballon  Larry Walsh  Marcus Wilson  Mike Leonetti  Peter Drucker  The 2112 Group  The Rhythm of Business 

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Relationships: Currency of the Channel

Posted By Diana L. Mirakaj | President and Chief Operating Officer of The 2112 Group, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Of all the things the channel brings to technology vendors’ table, including market reach and vertical expertise, among them, perhaps the most valuable is partners' longstanding relationships with end-user customers. 

Built on trust and knowledge, those relationships are worth their weight in gold. If there's one person on a vendor's team who can safeguard all parties involved receive maximum benefit throughout the sales process, it's the channel account manager (CAM). As the chief liaison between a vendor and its channel partners, a CAM can nurture and enable solution providers, help them gain clarity on the value proposition of a vendor's product or service and guide them in areas like marketing, where they may not be as strong as they would like. 

To bring out the best in partners and maximize their ability to leverage customer relationships, vendors and their CAMs should set measurable goals; provide constant feedback and review partner performance and channel-program reward structures periodically. 

Read the full 2112 Group article, Relationships: Currency of the Channel.

ASAP Corporate Member, EPPP and guest blogger, Diana L. Mirakaj is president and chief operating officer of The 2112 Group.

Tags:  best practices  CAM  Channel  channel business  customer relationships  Diana L. Mirakaj  end-user customers  IT Channel  partners  solution providers  The 2112 Group  vendors 

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