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“Ecosystems 101”: Summit Session Demystifies How to Engage in Emerging Shared Model

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Saturday, September 12, 2020

Ecosystems are the topic du jour in alliance management today, a fact that was reflected in the agenda for this year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit. The Summit track “The Power of the Ecosystem” explored a variety of elements of this evolving partnership model, including a presentation on how to use them to acquire new customers and another that focused on novel capabilities.  Since not everyone is steeped in ecosystems basics, it was only appropriate to feature an overview of sorts on the subject—call it “Ecosystems 101,” if you will. That task was enthusiastically undertaken by Claudia Kuzma, CA-AM, managing director and global ecosystems program leader at Protiviti, and Nancy Ridge, president of Ridge Innovative, who delivered the on-demand presentation “Demystifying the Ecosystem—an Interactive Conversation.”

The presentation began with a video of Ridge standing on the rocky shore of the Pacific Ocean looking down at the variety of marine life in the tidepools around her.

“Subject to harsh environment, this ecosystem is highly competitive, and yet all of these creatures rely on each other to fulfill their purpose and thrive,” she explained, setting up an “ecological metaphor” to which she would return throughout the presentation.

The New Paradigm: Decentralized Platforms Replace Hub-and-Spoke Ecosystem Model

Of course, the “science” of alliance management is similarly accelerating the development of business ecosystems, which Kuzma illustrated with a figure from analyst firm IDC: partners that adopt ecosystem business models will grow 50 percent faster than those that eschew them. So how should executives begin wrapping their minds around the pursuit of an ecosystem play? It helps to understand that technology ecosystems themselves are undergoing a transformation of their own, from a model with a large player at the center—such as Apple and its vast network of developers, accessories, content, and end users—to a “shared model,” a “many-to-many” platform where no one company serves as a hub around which thousands of “spokes” revolve.

Ridge spoke of cloud ecosystems company Tidwit’s automated and distributed “learning and enablement” platform, in which participants join through APIs, data is kept separate and secure, and content is automatically updated and delivered intelligently to users at an optimal time. The Apple model “is very difficult to scale, and requires a lot of capital, both human and financial,” said Ridge. “This shared platform is the new paradigm.”

The pandemic is accelerating the growth of shared ecosystems. Ridge noted that the state of California connected with labs across state and local hospitals to provide drive-through COVID-19 testing. Kuzma cited the example of telemedicine, which has become indispensable in the context of self-quarantining; behind the scenes, many technological parts from different organizations are working together to enable patients to talk with a physician by simply registering and clicking a few links on a mobile device.

Total Solutions: Customer-Focused, Senior Leadership–Approved

A similar trend is taking place in the B2B world. According to Ridge, Salesforce acquired Tableau in order to enable clients to drive insights out of their data that would enable them to “expedite intelligent, connected customer experiences which, again, drove innovation and accelerated it for their users.”  

Ridge continued to hammer the point home that customers are at the center of these ecosystem models—or should be—and that satisfying their needs is often made possible through coopetition.

“Today, total solutions are delivered as managed services. Now, behind the scenes, many of those companies that used to be competitors are working together, but what the customer sees is a complete solution that is brought to them as a seamless experience.”

As she spoke over a slide that listed the building blocks of ecosystems—reaching new customers, building new products and services, enabling more efficient

business operations, educating clients, accelerating innovation, and creating awareness of specific needs—Kuzma stressed the importance of balancing the objectives of the individual company and the group and obtaining executive sponsorship of this new model. 

“That awareness and collaboration, and just showing the organization how the ecosystem contributes to the organization’s greater goals, is really important,” she said. 

Building or entering an ecosystem is easier said than done, though. According to an Accenture survey of 1,200 executives, 40 percent felt their organizations didn’t have the capacity to build out the structure, deliver the value exchange, monitor their roles in the ecosystem, and manage relationships. The biggest barriers: cybersecurity, IP protection, and structuring ecosystem governance. In fact, these were the primary obstacles to telemedicine before COVID-19 created the urgency around the service, Ridge recalled.

Darwin in the Ecosystem: Learn on the Fly, Fail Fast, and Adapt Accordingly

The presenters were setting up the larger point that companies shouldn’t shy away from entering ecosystems because of the technical complexities. Rather, they should get comfortable with learning on the fly, failing fast, and adapting their ecosystem model over time.

“There’s going to be risks and failures along the way,” said Kuzma, who added later in the presentation, “It never feels good to fail, right? But we always learn something from it. When we embrace those learnings and we advance forward that’s when we begin to see those roots of innovation.”

“Adaptive programs are going to be so important. Folks are going to have to build programs that can adjust over time, but also dynamically,” said Ridge. “Not all species survive, but the ones who do have that adaptive, responsive mindset.”

How do you go about selecting ecosystem partners? First, identify the market opportunity—the customer need that has yet to be filled. From there, align with the dominant player in that space, “the core player [that] can really set the pace, driving innovation and pushing the rest of the participants to coevolve and stay relevant,” advised Ridge. From there, you can start to layer infrastructure providers and service delivery partners that will build out the end-user experience.

A Rising Tide Delivers Growth, If Not Comfort

Keep in mind that the more diverse the set of players in your ecosystem, the faster you will churn out novel solutions.

“The more diverse your perspective, the greater your innovation is going to be and the broader the market that you are likely to engage with. Unlike the old models where companies used to operate as competitors in their separate silos, today the new environment disregards that competition in favor of contribution and collaboration, meeting the needs of end user,” said Ridge. “A rising tide raises all boats.”

Kuzma then laid out a roadmap for assembling an ecosystem strategy ordered in the following steps:

  • Awareness – How are your customers accessing your products and services?
  • Landscape – Who are you working with today?
  • Strategy – Based on your strategic drivers, whom should you partner with?
  • Framework – Develop KPIs, policies, procedures, communication, and change management.
  • Align – Are your partners in position to deliver on your goals and the customers’ needs?
  • Source – Add talent and technology that aligns with business objectives.
  • Innovate – Enhance the customer experience—what needs to change?
  • Optimize – “The sky is the limit,” said Kuzma.

In making this journey, Ridge urged senior leaders to prioritize innovation and engage stakeholders in sales, marketing, finance, legal, and other parts of the business “to lay out that roadmap first internally under that leadership guidance to reach beyond the enterprise to the market at large.” She added that you may not have to recreate the wheel—an ecosystem might already exist that is right for your organization and accepting new members.

Ridge closed by echoing Kuzma’s endorsement of the “fail-fast” mentality.

“There’s no growth in the comfort zone and no comfort in the growth zone,” she said.

Find out how Protiviti’s 2020 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award–winning “i on Hunger” program exemplifies how ecosystems can not only deliver great customer experiences but also change the world, in the estimation of both presenters.

(For the full story of i on Hunger and the other ASAP Alliance Excellence Award winners, don’t miss “Paragons of Excellence” in the Q3 2020 Strategic Alliance Magazine, coming to inboxes and mailboxes soon. The Q3 edition will also have a “Focus on Ecosystems,” which will consist of three articles on this business model that is fostering digital transformation and evolving the alliance management discipline.)

Tags:  alliance excellence awards  alliance management  Claudia Kuzma  Ecosystems  I on hunger  innovation  Nancy Ridge  partnership model  Protiviti  Ridge Innovative  stakeholders  Tidwit 

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ASAP’s Summit Kicks Off with Partnering as a Path to Growth, Even—or Especially—in a Pandemic

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Day one of ASAP’s first-ever virtual Global Alliance Summit got off to a great start today, with opening remarks by ASAP president and CEO Mike Leonetti and board chair Brooke Paige, along with two fascinating keynotes and the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards presentation.

Leonetti began by thanking everyone not only for gathering together virtually, but for “sticking with us” as both the date and format of the Summit had to be changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He also noted that alliances and partnerships everywhere are still working hard and driving business growth, as well as “saving the world” by collaborating in efforts to combat and mitigate the effects of COVID-19. He also reminded everyone that “even though we can’t get together, we can learn from each other” via ASAP tools and publications, 365 days a year, and that the goal of all our partnering efforts is “not only to survive the new normal, but to thrive and prosper.”

Paige also acknowledged that “the world looks completely different now from when we were last together,” but said that given the economic and health challenges of the pandemic, “there has never been a better time for alliance management.” She felt that alliances and partnerships actually have “an incredible role” to play in countering the pandemic and its effects.

Fighting Cancer and Learning to Be a Good Partner

This remark was reinforced by the first keynote this morning, given by Dr. Louis B. Harrison, MD, FASTRO, vice president, chief partnership officer, and chair of the radiation oncology department at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla. “A Cancer Center’s Experience Developing Clinical Partnerships and Alliances: Opportunities and Cautions” showed how a top-flight US cancer research center has used partnerships to increase patient access and provide more widespread cancer treatment in various communities—especially important now, given the greatly reduced travel due to COVID-19.

Dr. Harrison admitted that he is not an alliance professional and is still “a rookie” when it comes to alliance management, but stressed that “we can’t just do business the way we used to” and that it’s up to institutions like his center to do their best to learn to “be a good partner” in order to further the goal of better and more widespread health care. And in any partnership, he said, “They have to want you, you have to want them, and you have to behave in such a way that you bring it all together in a win-win.” (For more on Dr. Harrison and his work, see my June 8 ASAP blog post, “‘A Commonality of Spirit’: How a Cancer Center Partners to Help More Patients.”)

Music to the ears of the assembled alliance management multitudes tuning in to ASAP on Vimeo for this virtual Summit, no doubt. Similarly, the next keynote also hit some familiar notes, but with variations appropriate to the different times in which we find ourselves these days.

Get Smart and Get Growing

Tiffani Bova is a growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, as well as the author of the book Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices That Will Make or Break Your Business (Portfolio/Penguin, 2018), the host of the What’s Next! podcast, and a frequent contributor to Forbes and other publications. Her presentation, “The Untapped Gold Mine of Building Trust, Unconventional Affiliations, and Iteration-Based Partnerships,” aimed to shed some light on what might be the best path or paths to the “New Future,” as she put it.

Bova challenged companies to ask themselves: “If we could do anything now, what would it be, in order to get us to this new future?” In her view, this should be subdivided into three phases, or tracks:

  1. Stabilize the business by mitigating short-term risks.
  2. Get people back to work—not necessarily back to the office, but productively employed as much as possible.
  3. Get back on track to growth, and remember that your customers and partners are going through this same journey as well.

In looking toward and navigating future growth, Bova highlighted four “focus areas” businesses can use. These are:

  1. Experience: This includes creating and delivering a beneficial experience to customers, partners, and the supply chain.
  2. Innovation: Noting that the pandemic-related shutdowns of retail and other businesses demonstrated a prior lack of investment in innovation, Bova pointed to shifts to digital, agility, use of communications, and ecosystems as ways of promoting innovation. (She also noted that “digital transformation” doesn’t mean just technology, but actually should be viewed through the lens of “people and process.”)
  3. Trust: Saying that studies have shown that businesses and consumers don’t trust brands—especially in the way they use their data—Bova posited trust as the “barometer” or “backbone of the relationship” between businesses and their customers and partners.
  4. Values: An important component of a brand in attracting employees, partners, and customers. At Bova’s own company, Salesforce, establishing values has meant supporting communities, using technology for good, and providing “help for everyone,” especially in the current conditions. This includes direct investments, having a 90-day no-layoff pledge, and collaborating with some of its partners such as AWS, Google, and Apple to provide aid to communities.

Pivoting and Partnering in the “New Future”

For Bova, “partnering in the new future” will mean maximizing existing business; entering new markets, regions, and industries; and launching new products. “This is not a time to cut back on costs,” she said, but rather represents an opportunity to leverage existing assets and capabilities to pave the way for future growth.

In looking back over the weeks and months of the pandemic, Bova said there’s been “a burst of learning” since early March, when the US along with many other parts of the world began in one way or another to shut down. One of the lessons has been “how quickly we needed to pivot,” she acknowledged, saying that using partnerships and coopetition are two of the ten paths to growth laid out in her book, Growth IQ. Even pre-COVID-19, more than half of CEOs saw creating new partnerships as a viable path to growth, but most of them also said that fewer than 60 percent of those partnerships have proven to be effective.

Bova added that the tenth path to growth in her book is “unconventional strategies,” and these include establishing partnerships with “unlikely bedfellows” and “disrupting current thinking.” She encouraged CEOs and other senior leaders to think seriously about what kinds of partnerships would help get them through the three phases of stability, getting back to work, and getting back to growth, and not to be swayed by some of the rumored downsides of partnerships: e.g., that they are too big and unmanageable, or that partnering means “we don’t make any money,” or that “we don’t own the customer.”

Tying some of these strands together, Bova asserted, “Your greatest sales force is your customers and partners advocating on your behalf.” If indeed partnering is one of those “unconventional strategies” she recommended, it looks like it’s one that, handled with care and best practices, should start propelling more enterprises down the path of future growth.

Keep checking this blog for more to come on the ASAP Global Alliance Summit, including the Alliance Excellence Award winners, highlights of the livestream presentations, and on-demand sessions as well.

Tags:  advocating  Apple  AWS  customers  experience  Google  Growth IQ  innovation  Louis B. Harrison  Moffitt Cancer Center  partner  Partnerships  Salesforce  supply chain  Tiffani Bova  trust  values 

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A Lesson From the Whiz Kids: Change and Teams— ‘An Inevitable Combination’

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, July 22, 2019

My father, who recently passed away, worked for Ford Motor Company in its heyday. A 1950  graduate of Harvard Business School and a former Marine in World War II and the Korean War, he started working at  Ford in 1953 and eventually worked under Ford President Robert McNamara, who later became the longest-serving secretary of defense in United States history under Presidents  John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

 

Ford Motor Company was losing millions in the post-  WWII era, but turned a corner through innovative production and management. Seeking new ways to succeed in a time of rapid change (sound familiar?), the company engaged in a unique partnership with a group of United States Air Force officers. Ford would provide the young men just out of the military with jobs and, in turn, the former officers would revamp the company. Disparagingly dubbed the “Quiz Kids” by fellow employees for their youthful questioning, they renamed themselves the “Whiz Kids.” As a manager in finance, production programming, sales, marketing, personnel, and technical and transportation operations, my father worked under their guidance to help reorganize Ford’s financial framework, redefine corporate culture, and contribute to automotive innovation.

 

After my father’s memorial service, I pored over the books in his library. You can tell a lot about a person from the books he or she reads. Based on the collective mix, he pursued self-education to the end, especially in the areas of business, history, leadership—and the art of fly fishing. The mix included tomes such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit and Nigel Hamilton’s The Mantle of Command. But what really caught my eye was an unassuming slip of a book: The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High–Performance Organization, by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, Harvard Business School Press, 1993. As I paged through, I found only one sentence in the entire book underlined. In the chapter “Teams and Major Change: An Inevitable Combination,” the final sentence on Page 211 was highlighted: “It is no accident, then, that every single major change effort we know about has depended on teams.”

 

Through landmark business reconstruction and major wars my father had significant life experience leading and participating in successful teams. He must have come away from those experiences with an understanding of how major change is conjoined with well-organized teamwork. At age 93, the concept of digital transformation was a mystery to him, but the strategy necessary for such radical transformation was very familiar: Major change requires visionary leadership, well-orchestrated collaboration, and flexible innovation.

 

History can teach us a lot about successful collaboration. That connection came through at a ASAP BioPharma Conference in a session on “Alliance Management  Learnings from Great Leaders,” led by Harm-Jan Borgeld, head of alliance management at Merck KGaA;  David Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; Steven Twait, CSAP, vice president, alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca. The three alliance professionals probed questions about the “Big Three” WWII alliance led by Winston Churchill,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin—and how history’s lessons learned relate to today’s strategic alliances.

 

When designed and executed well, alliances can resolve conflict, innovate solutions, win wars, and rejuvenate flagging companies. Collaboration can even streamline services in the public sector and define the  workplace cultures of successful 21st century companies like Jazz Pharmaceuticals. For my father’s generation and for ours, it still comes down to inspired leaders and engaged executives who grapple with change by fostering a culture of teamwork and collaboration— and embrace partners along their journey forward. My dad would recognize this approach as “an inevitable combination.” 

Tags:  Alliances  AstraZeneca  Collaboration  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Harm-Jan Borgeld  Innovation  Jazz Pharmaceuticals  Merck KGaA  Steve Twait 

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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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Morphing Your Partnering Philosophy in a Changing World of Digital Drivers (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, March 29, 2018

Key sectors of the economy are struggling to adapt to disruptions from digital technologies, such as the cloud. The change is resulting in new business models and service sector opportunities in areas such as security and supply chains. This article continues our coverage of the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “Partnering with Change in a World of Ongoing Disruption.” Presenters Joe Schramm, vice president of strategic alliances at BeyondTrust, and Morgan Wheaton, senior director, global partner alliances & channels at JDA Software, addressed the considerable transformation in company culture that is needed to better enable new partnering models. The first part of the session covered emerging industry paradigms needed to succeed in today’s fast-paced, partnering-oriented ecosystems. These additional insights and excerpts are gleaned from the second half of the session.

Wheaton: JDA had a new CEO come in a year ago, and instead of replacing people he created a team of JDA employees to create a new culture. The culture at JDA is about three key concepts. Results—JDA is obsessed with delivering customer value. Relentlessness—we relentlessly drive new learning and innovation. Teamwork—we candidly and respectfully collaborate. So what kind of cultural change is needed to better enable new partner models? [The first change is] TEAM, which stands for Together Each Achieves More, a gradual change that takes time.

Schramm: Next on the list is [that] executives need to walk the talk: High-level executive alignment is critical.

Wheaton: Celebrate mutual success: Nothing gets more attention than selling a deal. It’s so very important to get the word out when we close a deal.

Schramm: Re-educate and reinforce. This is a big one as we go after new and different partners. We need to educate ourselves on what the win is with a new partner and why to go after them.

Wheaton: Compensation matters. I’m a coin-operated machine. Salespeople do what you pay them to do. Figuring out how to drive the right behavior through compensation is important.

Schramm: Transparent, open communications. Partners are in for the whole ride, and we need to include them.

In terms of the cultural change specific to BeyondTrust, there are lots of items. We emphasize passion—approaching each day with energy and enthusiasm. Teamwork—we work together and act as one. Customer and partner focus—the most important consideration, we are 100 percent committed to meeting the requirements of our customers and partners. Innovation—we work relentlessly to improve our products and processes for the benefit of customers, partners, employees, and the company. Integrity—we are honest and consistent in our actions.

Wheaton: So can alliance leaders design “future proof” alliances that accommodate ongoing disintermediation, otherwise known as cutting out the middleman in connection with a transaction or series of transactions? My crystal ball may not tell me what future technology will be like, but I know we will be involved in partnering. You need to put metrics in place. Sometimes you can’t future proof all alliances, sometimes you need to pull the ripcord and get out. Sometimes the pesky market shifts.

In summary, Schramm and Wheaton agree on implementing these key principles:

  • Listen and survey—be aware and anticipate changes.
  • Build a culture of “partner first.”
  • “Semper Gumby”—always be flexible; be ready to change things on the fly.
  • Execute today, but keep an eye on the future—monitor what’s coming while keeping an eye on the distance.

Tags:  alliance leaders  BeyondTrust  collaborate  collaboration  cultural change  Digital drivers  ecosystem  flexible  future proof  innovation  JDA  JDA Software  Joe Schramm  Morgan Weaton  Morgan Wheaton  partner first  partnering  partners  Semper Gumby  strategic alliances 

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