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5G: Overhyped, or a “Fairy Tale” Come True?

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Friday, July 17, 2020

Ready or not, the future is coming. In some ways, it’s already here.

So it is with 5G, the latest generation of mobile connectivity. The promise of this technology, and its implications for consumers, businesses, and partnering, were among the topics discussed in one of the many on-demand presentations that form this year’s ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

“How 5G Will Transform and Disrupt Business and Partners,” moderated by Stacy Conrad, director channel sales, TPx, featured three panelists:

  • Pradeep Bhardwaj, senior strategy director, Syniverse
  • Manoj Bhatia, CSAP, partner business development (technology alliances), Verizon
  • Andreas Westh, CSAP, director global partnering strategy, Ericsson

“Once upon a Time” Is Now

After a short introduction by Conrad to set the stage, Bhardwaj began by noting, “The story of mobile has been nothing short of a fairy tale. We have come a long way since the start of the first generation of mobile technology in the early ’80s.” Each generation of mobile technology has come with its own advancements, he added—including texting, Web browsing, and video—and 5G is no different.

For Westh, 5G brings with it “a lot of opportunities” for both consumers and businesses. These include connected smart homes, low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) technology, enhanced live event experiences, gaming, wireless virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), remote robotics, connected vehicles, and connected logistics for business. Westh views 5G as an “innovation platform” where “different companies come together and cocreate.”

Bhatia sees 5G’s impact as primarily occurring in three areas: mobile connectivity for business, new consumer services such as home broadband, and big industry services that will help enterprises digitalize and leverage IoT technologies, for example.

Of this last category, he said, “This is an area [where] everybody has been working for a while, trying to get new innovations. But with 5G, the speed, latency, moving massive amounts of data in a much more efficient way—that’s where the new challenge and the new excitement comes in.”

“A Complete Paradigm Shift”

Asked by Conrad whether 5G has been overhyped, the panelists seemed to agree on a resounding “no.” If anything, they suggested that perhaps the technology’s potential has been underestimated.

“The hype is very justified,” Bhardwaj maintained. “It’s a complete paradigm shift.”

Bhatia chimed in that when speed can be “magnified and amplified” anywhere from 10x to 100x over 4G, and latency reduced as much as 10x (avoiding delays in the movement of large amounts of data), “the hype is understandable.”

Furthermore, he said, “All businesses struggle not just in the transport of data but also in managing these big chunks of data. And that’s where 5G will actually help.”

“Cut All the Cables”

Westh said, “There’s huge interest from the business side, not just consumers. It opens up a lot of opportunities. We see a lot of interest from partners from different companies who want to leverage 5G for their businesses.” He added that his company, Ericsson, recently released the results of a survey predicting that mobile data consumption will increase 4x in the next couple of years, which has both business and consumer implications.

Looking at different verticals where 5G will have an impact, Bhatia mentioned healthcare—in particular noting contract tracing for the coronavirus, collection and analysis of public health data, the use of AR/VR in diagnosis, and telehealth. (And about the changes wrought by COVID-19 worldwide, he said, “We’re all going through this crisis. We’re all gathering the strengths, the technology, and the ideas to solve this problem more efficiently, so we are better prepared for this kind of crisis in the long run.”)

Westh mentioned advances in entertainment, including enhancing the experience around live concerts, shows, and sporting events—and even consuming entertainment safely at home. In these areas, he said, 5G will help remove or reduce capacity constraints, interference, and connectivity issues. Westh added that one of Ericsson’s goals is to “cut all the cables”—which means that professional cameras at live events will be able to get into spaces where it hasn’t been feasible up to now.

Bhardwaj took on the manufacturing sector, where he said that 5G could greatly improve both process and production automation, as well as connectivity and logistics, robotics, and other functions.

Partnering in 5G: From Small Islands to Super Ecosystems

Not surprisingly, the promise of 5G has spawned any number of new and innovative partnerships involving multiple players. “The foundation has been there,” Bhatia said, noting the prominence of technology and systems integrator partnerships, which he called “small islands.” But 5G, he predicted, will bring “a super set of ecosystems” with it, along with the incubation of a “new round of innovation—[creating] something that was unimaginable before.” Verizon itself is working with many startups on 5G projects, as well as with device makers like Samsung, and investing in “labs for new ideas.” But Bhatia warned that any such efforts must provide real, beneficial, “significant change,” or else it’s simply “hogwash.”

Westh agreed that partnerships are already an important element in the creation of new 5G use cases for consumers and businesses. “It’s a collaborative game,” he said. “It’s an ecosystem and a value chain [for] cocreation. We’re just at the beginning with 5G. It’s a long journey.”

If you registered for the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, don’t forget that all conference sessions—both livestream and on demand—are available for viewing from now through August 18, 2020, on the conference showcase.

Tags:  5G  Andreas Westh  AR/VR  channel sales  diagnosis  Ericsson  Manoj Bhatia  mobile  mobile connectivity  partner  partnering  Pradeep Bhardwaj  Stacy Conrad  strategy  Syniverse  technology  telehealth  TPx  Verizon 

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As-a-Service at Your Service—Citrix, Ingram Cloud Blue Executives Educate Summit Attendees on Marketplaces

Posted By Jon Lavietes, Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Whether you have stopped to think about it lately or not, marketplaces are now a big part of our life. Most of us can’t go too many days without purchasing something from Amazon, Google, and Apple. Similarly, millions of businesses of all sizes have turned to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for any number of software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) subscriptions rather than hosting these IT solutions themselves.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of marketplaces are popping up all over the business landscape. Many other companies with a sizable customer bases and partner ecosystems are opening up their own virtual shopping malls for clients to browse and transact on their own terms, such as major carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile and enterprise tech bluebloods Oracle and Salesforce.

The growing trend toward marketplace shopping has confronted businesses with several questions. Should they build their own marketplaces for their customers and channel partners? Should they invest in campaigns around other ones? These are the issues that Glen Kuhne, director of major accounts at Ingram Cloud Blue, and Roger Williams, senior director of mobility and marketplace alliances at Citrix, wrestled with in the 2020 ASAP Global Alliance Summit session “Marketplaces: The New Buying Centers in the Age of As-a-Service,” which is on demand now for those who have registered for the event.

More Than Just a Place to Purchase

Williams began the session by outlining some of the trends driving the rapid spread of marketplaces—according to research firm Gartner, they will be the dominant channel for infrastructure software by 2024. Consumers are getting more and more comfortable making purchases via mobile and voice, and millennials, who have grown up in the digital age and know no world where they can’t browse an app store, are expecting the B2B universe to offer similar options. The proclivity toward self-service browsing and purchasing is forcing companies to incorporate marketplaces as part of the organization’s broader omni-channel strategy or “holistic point of view,” as Williams put it.

Marketplaces aren’t just forums for purchasing; customers are conducting more and more research and holding dialogue about products and services of interest in these virtual shopping centers.

“You have more buyers essentially getting their information about prospective products from their marketplaces than their sales reps,” said Williams, who noted that more than one-third of buyers in Citrix’s market now gather background from a marketplace, compared to 27 percent who tap their sales reps for details about an offering of interest.

Cataloging Your Marketplace Strategy

Is a marketplace right for your company, or is it better to piggyback other established virtual bazaars? Do you make your marketplace offerings available to everyone in your ecosystem?  Kuhne took the floor to go over these questions and other finer points of marketplace strategy.

First, marketplace activities are shaped in large part by whom you sell to and how you reach those audiences. Consumer companies generally make their entire catalog of products and services available to any marketplace browser. However, there are different routes to market in B2B. Ingram Micro, for example, sells largely through resellers and, thus, must ensure it doesn’t undercut these channel partners. There are other instances where it may only make sense to offer marketplace buying options to a limited subset of enterprise customers.

Another good question to address: who owns the company’s marketplace strategy? Is it the reseller division, alliance management, or product management? Perhaps it is the CEO? Someone has to take charge of the overall vision of for building your own marketplace and/or a platform that works with one or more other marketplace channels. Kuhne did warn viewers that executive changes can disrupt marketplace projects.

“They’ll make a strategic decision and then the efforts toward whatever project you were on might be curtailed or redirected,” he said.

Kuhne also cautioned listeners to be cognizant of potential new legal and accounting burdens that result from marketplace selling. If buyers in different regions are purchasing from your company directly through a marketplace, then the finance department may have to sort out the resultant tax implications.

“The states are getting aggressive in revenue collection,” chimed in Williams. 

Are Your Buyers Ready?

Kuhne then urged listeners to ascertain how ready their buyers are. Although marketplace adoption is growing rapidly, there are many that aren’t going down this path willingly. Some are old school and would simply rather deal with a sales rep or order from an old-fashioned website. Others may prefer traditional transactions but understand that these online markets are the future. These businesses might be good candidates for beta testing, as they might want to make sure they are not getting left behind if the marketplace becomes the standard conduit for conducting business.

Kuhne then outlined a number of potential challenges companies could confront as they assemble their marketplace strategies, including:

  • Product complexity – If your product portfolio contains many interdependent components, it may make sense to offer only prepackaged bundles. Maybe it is only economical to offer best-selling products. If your customers are savvy, perhaps you grant them more options and configuration control.
  • Education – Marketplaces are places for self-service research as much as they are for shopping. Thus, it is critical that product specs, reviews, how-to videos, and forums are easy for your buyers and channel partners to find and understand. If a product is too complex for self-service, it may not be ready for a marketplace.
  • Security – Customer verification, fraud protection, credit card verification, and payment authentication must be built into all marketplace transactions. In fact, there are many ready-made services available in these areas, so companies do not necessarily need to develop these capabilities from scratch.
  • Data privacy – If you sell online to customers in the European Union (EU) or California, make sure your customer communication complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), respectively.
  • Catalog management – In addition to deciding which products to sell via marketplaces and in which marketplaces to sell, businesses must support both one-time purchases and ongoing subscriptions. Some customers are accustomed to a mix of both. For example, many in IT buy hardware once but prefer to subscribe to software as a service.
  • Channel management – Find a way to enable both selling to customers directly and through resellers and other channels.
  • Standardization and maintenance – When companies sell through resellers, it is critical to make that process easier for them. Ingram Micro, for example, has an automated go-to-market tool that forces new vendors to fill out sales and product documents before they can resell Ingram Micro’s products.
  • Demand generation – Promote your marketplace offerings every chance you get, and have your channel partners do the same. Again, an omni-channel strategy involving mobile, voice, AI, and web is critical.

Kuhne then concluded by laying out a series of best practices:

  • It is not all or nothing. Businesses can test out a minimum viable marketplace option, then scale the operation by creating application programming interfaces (APIs) if the original proof of concept sparks optimism.
  • Secure executive sponsorship. Again, whether it is product management, channel management, or IT, it is critical to appoint and empower a respected leader to see these initiatives through.
  • Choose a technology platform that scales with your ecosystem. Whether your goal is to sell 200 units per month or 200,000, the technology underpinning your platform better support it without a hitch.
  • Start with a customer segment and its buying journey. Make sure there are no bugs in the process of browsing, selecting, customizing, and paying for products and services. Involve customers in the design and testing phases to ensure that the marketplace fits their desires and buying habits.
  • It’s not just a purchase. Customers expect their entire histories of interaction with your company to be accessible, including outstanding purchases, purchase history, past communication with support teams, and the like. “It’s more than the buying experience,” said Kuhne. “It can turn into a ‘My Account’ place if it’s your own marketplace.” If you sell through another marketplace, make sure the accounting, billing, purchasing, invoicing, and shipping processes—the entire “e-commerce cycle,” as Kuhne labeled it—are seamless.
  • Don’t underestimate the investment needed to take a marketplace to market. Kuhne counseled viewers to set aside a “decent chunk of your budget against that.” Customers need to know where to find you, and what you are selling. Remember, you must enable resellers to sell your marketplace, too. “It is not a build-it-and-they-will-come endeavor,” read a bullet on Kuhne’s presentation slide to hammer home the point.

Kuhne and Williams delivered more great insights during their session. Remember, Summit registrants can view the full presentation, as well as close to two dozen other sessions chock full of information and advice that will help improve your career and the alliances you work on each day.  

Tags:  AI  Channel management  channel partners  Citrix  customers  Data privacy  Demand generation  Education  Glen Kuhne  Ingram Cloud Blue  marketplace alliances  Marketplaces  mobile  mobility  omni-channel strategy  Product complexity  Roger Williams  Security  voice  web 

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Covey Got It Just Right: ‘Sharpen Your Saw’ in 2019—Because the Faster Partnering Moves, the More Learning and Professional Development Matters

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Saturday, March 9, 2019

We recently did some research into ASAP’s Certified Strategic Alliance Professionals. Going back to 2010, we found that fully 90 percent of CSAPs—nine out of every 10 recipients—remain active members in the association. That tells me that that CSAPs are leaders who think seriously about our profession, who want to ensure this is an enduring profession, and who can do the hard, heavy lifting it takes to be at the top of their game.

In other words, our CSAPs are still reinvesting, following the late Stephen Covey’s advice: “We must never be too busy to take time to ‘Sharpen the Saw.’”

Covey’s seventh habit of highly effective people borrows from ancient wisdom traditions as well as modern insight into the importance of renewal. It reminds us to take regular breaks in our personal lives, and to periodically re-sharpen the skills and knowledge that keep us on the forefront of our profession. This essential saw-sharpening only happens when we engage deeply in the alliance management community and participate in its events.

Just how sharp does the learning get? Check out our Strategic Alliance publications’ coverage of the November 8-9, 2018 ASAP European Alliance Summit in Amsterdam—and join me in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the March 11-13, 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystems.”

Both of these international events exemplify how our community collectively sharpens the saw—how we continually reflect, reexamine, and renew the content of our learning. ASAP events are an eye-popping confluence of brilliant and diverse people—typically a 50/50 mix of ASAP veterans and newcomers. Our content gets richer and more nuanced with every conference as it updates tried-and-true alliance management fundamentals with the bleeding edge of practice.

The alliance lifecycle—as presented in the ASAP Handbook of Alliance Management: A Practitioner’s Guideremains very relevant “blocking and tackling.” But—as we push across industry boundaries and into ecosystem partnering, agile practices, organizational collaborative capability, and even partnering process automation—it’s obvious that so many things around the alliance lifecycle must be agile. One partnership may skip lifecycle steps two, three, and four; another alliance might start at one, continue through three, and then go to market.

We’ve talked for years about partnering going beyond alliance management. Now we’re in the “perfect storm” as the partnering everywhere model comes to life. Ecosystem partnering is everywhere—in technology, in life sciences, even in jewelry, where open innovation networks fuel innovation for Swarovski, as I learned last fall in Amsterdam. Classic channel partnerships are in decline, cloud partnerships are accelerating, and the whole field of partnering is getting much larger, much more complex.

Look at digital therapeutics—I’ve been predicting at ASAP conferences that IT companies would be the healthcare partners of the future. Now we have life science member companies partnering with big data and analytics and launching therapies approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that are primarily software based, while tech companies’ business models evolve to be able to deliver safe, reliable healthcare-related services. In telecom, 5G speeds will create new networks and mobile capabilities that we’ve never seen before—requiring partners we’ve never seen before. And artificial intelligence—what organizations and processes will become our partners in the future because of the advances of AI, and how will that again change the complexity of our alliances? 

Amidst this perfect storm, ASAP is a perfect conduit for everyone who leads collaborations to learn how to do it better and evolve “the how” every day in practice. So sharpen your saw. Invest in your community through ASAP, and invest in yourself through ASAP’s professional development events and publications.

Stephen Covey got it just right: “‘Sharpen the Saw’ means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have—you.”

Visit http://asapsummit.org for the most up-to-date agenda for March 11-13, 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, and register for the event, at. See the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive before, during, and after coverage of the 2019 Summit in Strategic Alliance publications and on the ASAP blog. 

Michael Leonetti, CSAP, is president and CEO of ASAP and executive publisher of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications. A previous version of this article appeared in Q1 2019 Strategic Alliance Quarterly

Tags:  5G  agile practices  alliance lifecycle  alliance management  artificial intelligence  ecosystem partnering  healthcare-related services  mobile  organizational collaborative  Partnering  Professional Development  telecom 

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