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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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Dassault Systèmes: Out-of-the-Box Thinking in Three-Dimensional Design

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dassault Systèmes in Vélizy-Villacou­blay, Paris, France,  is a leader in three-dimensional design, visualization, and collabo­rative solutions that help customers define, simulate, and demonstrate their products in the virtual experience space. Michael Moser, global alliances network collaboration manager at Dassault Systèmes, recently shared his perspective on innovation, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking in the  soon-to-be-published Q4 Strategic Alliance Magazine cover story “Giving Birth to Innovation: The Brain Child of Out-of-the-Box Thinking.” The following Q&A is a continuation of the discussion.

What foundations do partnerships need to successfully innovate and create?

An alliance needs to be defined in terms of aligned strategy, shared objectives, a joint value proposition, and a set of guidelines that define the working together. A framework is put into place to protect the interest of either party, but there is risk that this may be considered as too limiting. In this case, I advise to focus on the original purpose of the partnership—probably defined in the early partnership definition phases—that needs to be tested and proven in the real world. What is more inspiring than focusing on a joint solution, to address a business challenge for a mutual customer or user group? With this setting, the alliance partners can unleash their full creativity for defining, developing, and marketing this joint solution.

Relate an experience you have had where out-of-the-box thinking resulted in problem solving and/or a better project outcome.

Here is an example of a very small technology partner that integrated its solution to enable testing of assembly situations in manufacturing in our platform. In this application, a real “operator” person enters the virtual world of a simulated factory environment to try out manipulations on virtual production models. Without a dedicated marketing department, they had the permanent issue of creating awareness of their solution offering, which is highly specific and needs to be positioned properly versus competitive solutions. We worked with the partner to create a partnership solution video, which is short and fit for social media use. The video summarizes the solution value (unique immersion into a virtual 3D world) and three functional benefits in a simple and upbeat way. We shared it on You Tube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. Targeted salespeople can get the message via their attention to social media.

What do alliance managers need to know when engaged in multi-party innovation?

First, ensure that communication is not lost in silos, e.g., in individual mailboxes. Propose a platform-based communication/collaboration hub. Work in digital communities, where exchanges are logged and can be found and retrieved by all participants. Governance of the multi-party alliances also needs to be done on the platform. Ideally, the status is depicted in online dashboards. Rather than clarifying a strategic fit in a unilateral one-to-one alliance, a multi-party environment is more challenging in terms of ensuring that everyone’s interest is understood and taken into account. Mutual interest is mandatory for mutual participation in the collaboration process. The alliance manager needs to live up to the challenge of balancing these interests, at best through a mix of a formal process and informal social practices. Animating the multi-party alliance also is an important role of the alliance manager.

What are some creative ways Dassault collaborates with customers?

There are many ways we try to capture customer feedback.

Pilots: New disruptive solution approaches are often launched with a set of selected pilot customers to test concept alternatives and fine-tune the applications before a general release. The users are the best source of telling the value an application provides to solve their business challenges. Their feedback on their usage of our software is essential for providing a better experience.

Playground: In many Dassault Systèmes offices as part of the EBC (Executive Briefing Center) initiatives, we have implemented demonstration spaces where we show experiences in various domains, often specific to an industry, always addressing a specific use case. Visitors can be immersed in these experiences, and we extract their perception of the value. This way we can test solutions—even prior to their release to the market—in order to learn and improve.

User Days: Our brands invite their specific user community to events in the local geography, with the objective to pass information to them. But also to get feedback on their perception of our software and to hear their questions and propositions on what could be improved.

Digital Communities: Each brand has one or several communities in dedicated domains, which host a specific audience of users. Digital communities are a way to harvest user feedback in addition to the physical meetings—by surveys and from discussions that occur online.

Videos on Social Media: Publishing video content on the known social media platforms, centered on You Tube, has become a major communication strategy for Dassault Systèmes. 

Tags:  alliance manager  alliances  collaborations  communication  creativity  Dassault Systèmes  governance  innovation  Michael Moser  multi-party alliance¬  out-of-the-box thinking  partnership  virtual world 

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External Collaboration for Innovation: Bayer’s Key Leadership Role in Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

External collaboration for innovation has become a red-hot topic in the pharmaceutical industryand a critical practice for success. It was also the central topic during the leadership forum at the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference, “Accelerating Life Science Collaborations: Better Partnering, Better Outcomes,” Sept. 13-15 at the Royal Sonesta Boston, Cambridge, Mass. Chandra Ramanathan, Ph.D, vice president & head of the East Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, kicked off the discussion with an overview of Bayer’s approach.  

Call it “East meets West.” Ramanathan’s discussion of building innovative product portfolios through external crowd sourcing and other collaboration approaches occurred on the heels of a dynamic leadership spotlight talk last spring at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit in San Diego, California, “Accelerating Innovation: Partnering Early and Often in the New Era of Cooperation,” led by Chris Haskellhead of the West Coast Innovation Center at Bayer, tucked away in San Francisco’s Mission Bay—who is responsible for Bayer’s CoLaboratory. Following is a recap of ASAP Media’s conversation with Haskell and coverage of his conference session in the spring.

Bayer’s West Coast CoLaborator space is a subdivision of the German healthcare company, which serves as an incubator for fledgling startups working on promising biotech projects. Haskell explained the impetus for Bayer’s focus on external collaboration: Pharma was taking a hard look at its business models, the challenges with the pace of innovation, and how to adapt to and work with the outside world.  “The pharma industry is a failure business. We have to put lots of drugs out to get one that gets to market,” Haskell notes. “We’re spending $2.6 billion per drug to get to marketthat’s an imbalance you sometimes can’t make up with a blockbuster,” he added.

Bayer wanted to harness the advantages of the life sciences ecosystem in Mission Bay, San Francisco, through local collaborations in early-stage research. So in 2012, it opened the CoLaborator, an incubator lab space located at Bayer’s US Innovation Center, which houses the US Science Huba scientific team actively identifying partnerships with academic and biotech researchers. The CoLaborator includes an open lab layout that is designed for a quick start of research activities. The 6,000 square foot lab fosters collaboration among companies who are emerging innovative life science firms. Bayer often lends support through financing some of the project and/or offering access to the expertise of their staff.

“Pharma companies haven’t done great with incubators—it’s hard to innovate in a short length of time. … But now there are 100 startups within 10 minute walk of my office that weren’t there 10 years ago—that’s thanks to incubators,” he said. “The CoLaborator structure isn’t so much experimentation. If it works, everybody wins. If doesn’t, you can’t sell it anywhere else.”

Their partners are selected because their innovations have the potential to be aligned with Bayer internal projects.  But it’s not a requirement that the work of these life science companies matches Bayer’s needs. The CoLaborator tenants are highly independent. The model relies on the flexibility of “strategic leasing,” allowing Bayer to work with these emerging companies that may not be immediate partners. At the same time, there is potential to build further partnership agreements that would share risks and rewards for both partners. Bayer looks for technologies or therapeutics that could have a major impact on its ability to improve the research process. “We consider the future growth and potential of these companies to see how our needs and the product will link together. Within the CoLaborator, the standard lease is two years, but we do not have a fixed timeline," he added.

Early innovators—it’s different than later-stage licensing. Developing trust and the tools you use are different, he then explained. “One thing we did to improve trust was to put people where the partners are—this is the structure of our global innovation and alliances group. We created innovation centers in five different regions to complement the core development in Germany,” he added.

“We hear a lot about trust—the pharma company is suffering a bit of a trust crisis” and politicians and others are certainly beating the drum against big pharma, he noted.  “You really have to work on this well before the deal comes into play and ask, ‘What does an innovator want, and what can you do to help them build trust’” to achieve that goal? He then provided several key suggestions to establish this foundation:

  • When working with smaller partners, be clear what you can’t do, and why you need them.
  • Acknowledge the speed differential when you are moving at different speeds.
  • Create a clear joint definition of success, which is often an iterative process, and then de-risk the process.
  • Have a local interpreter when cultures and processes merge.
  • Run joint test projectswhen they crash and burn, view it not as failure but a   learning opportunity.

“One of the challenges alliance managers have in early innovation partnering is the belief that it’s “not in my job description,” he concluded. “Trust yourself, and keep sticking with it because you will have wins in the end. Know who to go to, de-risk, and build a story. Finally, simple contracts and dialogue risk info leaks. That could happen. This is where trust comes in. … Stay in touch, create support letters for grants, make your network their network. This is not 2007. Get over it. They will come to you first if you’ve built that trust. What has Bayer created? Successive leadership is driving this.”

Stay tuned for more coverage of this topic from the 2017 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  Bayer  Chandra Ramanathan  Chris Haskell  CoLaboratory  Innovation  Leadership  network  pharma  startups  strategic leasing 

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NetApp’s Trackable System Garners Best Practice Accolades at ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Ceremony: A Q&A with Ron Long, CSAP

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, April 3, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 31, 2017

Finding new ways to implement alliance management tools and processes is valuable for the entire ASAP community because it sets a new standard for best practiceswhether in the area of measurement, communications, conflict resolution, training, or other applications. This year the Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award was presented to NetApp at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28–March 2, at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California. This award highlights how NetApp has strived for exemplary partnering tools and practices. While many companies still try to manage partnering processes through spreadsheets, NetApp invested in technology and governance with stringent trackable processes that produce measurable results for its alliance co-selling program. The program assists NetApp and partner representatives proactively involved in account mapping, account planning, and pipeline management in the most difficult aspects of go-to-market alliances. The system also provides detailed reports on joint co-selling activities. I spoke with Ron Long, alliance director, who explained the progressive change undertaken that now acts as a valuable model for other companies tracking multi-alliance details.

What challenge were you problem-solving?
We were problem-solving the lack of ability to effectively manage and measure multi-alliance sales engagements. The challenge had to do with multiple partners pursing the same sale and having an impact when closing the deal.  The question was, “How does a system that is originated toward single-product sales measure revenue across several different companies?” We also wanted to improve the ability of teams to collaborate across multiple companies.

Describe some of the benefits of the new trackable system?
We were able to track investments and results, and that resulted in executive alliance growth. We also were able to track results for paying out commissions to salespeople. It was the impetus for growth and investment. When we could track those alliance partners, we had tangible data we could take to management and ask for investments for growth. Revenues have clearly improved through measurement and collaboration. We also use the system to set up sales pursuits to get partners to collaborate. This type of a problem is across multiple alliances, not just technology. Because it’s a problem that exists across multiple industries, it’s applicable outside the tech industry.

How did the new system evolve?
Two years ago, we started with some self-design, but we modified the sales tracking systems already in place with cloud technology, such as Salesforce.com. It’s adaptable because it’s a cloud-based service, and you can link in different information sources in the cloud. It’s easier to link that in than to do an in-house modification system. For governance, we do quarterly APRs, and each of the alliance leads added tracking of their progress, pipeline, revenue, investments, and training to ensure that what we’re doing plan-wise meets with results.

What ASAP tools and practices were useful when designing the system?
The greatest benefit came from ASAP Summit sessions that had to do with the overall management of multi-alliances. Also, we used several ASAP best practices as guideposts.

Tags:  alliance management  Alliance Managers  collaboration  governance  innovation  Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award  multi-alliances  multiple alliances  NetApp  partners  Ron Long 

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