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Moving Alliances from a Binary to a Multi-dimensional Ecosystem

Posted By Contributed by: Wissam “Will” Yafi, Founder & CEO – TIDWIT , Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Last year I had a memorable lunch conversation with an alliance vice president of a very large tech GSI. 

“We have had an alliance relationship with this ISV for well over thirty years. It is our oldest and largest,” he said.

“Great,” I said, “How is it going?”

“The strategy and intent are good. But execution could be better,” he answered. “Of our two hundred fifty or so thousand employees, no more than a dozen people actually engage online within the alliance.”

“Don’t you have a way to collaborate at scale?” I asked.

“We don’t really” he admitted.  “Most of our alliance work happens manually over the phone, email, and via Excel sheets.”

I have had conversations with several other alliance vice presidents, most of whom have openly confessed their partnership deficiencies. The symptoms are similar, and are getting worse as markets begin moving quicker, requiring more frequent updates, interactions, and alliance workflows—all of which places more and more stress on already tenuous relationships. 

The fundamental questions are what are the problems at the root of all these symptoms? And can they be overcome? The answers lie within three key factors from my work with a multitude of alliances:  binary (old) paradigm mentality, power plays/lack of trust, and deficient technology. Let’s look at each of these:

The traditional binary-alliance paradigm looks at relationships in simple not complex multi-dimensional terms. An organization that has only one alliance is very different from one that has dozens if not more alliances. Organizations that recognize this of each other are more able to understand the notion that they don’t sit at the center of any universe, but rather belong to one as do other organizations. As a result, they can empathize and collaborate in ways that a binary mentality is not able to.

Partner power plays are a bit more perplexing. When two organizations willingly sign an alliance to work with one another, what is the benefit of jostling for position? In fact, it only leads to distrust. Partners that respect mutual constraints and who work together to try to overcome them are much more likely to succeed in realizing joint opportunities. In a complex ecosystem of alliances, organizations cannot afford to be stuck in one-sided partnerships based on power plays—instead, they need to continuously seek ways to be on equal footing and build trust.

Even when alliances are able to overcome these first two factors in relationships, the next challenge they face is technology. More specifically, finding the proper technological platform architecture to allow them to conduct multi-dimensional alliances not with one but rather with an ecosystem of partners in a way that is standardized, secure, compliant, scalable, and cost effective. A cloud ecosystems network provides just that and solves for a wide range of alliance inefficiencies. A cloud ecosystem network not only allows an organization to connect with a multitude of partners with whom it has alliances, but for it to do so in a streamlined manner that provides it customization, control, compliance, data security, and integration capabilities, not to mention an impressive ROI.

Here are some compelling alliance benefits we have seen in deploying cloud ecosystems to global ISVs and GSIs:

  1. Boosting alliances and increasing the expected user footprint by as much as 800%
  2. Enabling the customization of applications to meet the needs of the organization with all its ecosystem of alliances
  3. Automating alliance processes with apps and workflows that cut across organizational boundaries—no more excel sheets over e-mail!
  4. Providing real time insight and reporting that allows alliances to be on the same page and monitor objectives together
  5. Ensuring PII and GDPR compliance, providing full protection and control over the data of each organization, while sharing what is agreed upon collaboratively and without power plays

Alliances are becoming increasingly complex, requiring more dynamic solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of the market. Going forward, organizations who want to ensure the success of their alliances have to evolve from a binary approach to a multi-dimensional ecosystems approach. They will also have to adopt a more collaborative approach that moves away from a zero-sum-game type of thinking to a whole-is-bigger-than-its-parts approach. And they will have to deploy the proper technology to realize all this and sustain it going forward. Doing all this promises to elevate the alliance from an elementary transactional state to a much more advanced state based on dynamic relationships, enabling instant “at scale” reaction to changing market needs.

This is not just theory; it is happening today.  The vice president who I had lunch with has gone from lightly involving a few handfuls of users to intricately engaging more than forty-thousand users through a cloud ecosystem launched via the TIDWIT network. The evolution to more effective, impactful ecosystems is real.  Are you ready to take the next step?

Tags:  binary-alliance paradigm  cloud  collaborative  ecosystems  multi-dimensional alliances  network  partnership  Tidwit  Will Yafi 

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“We Need to Be Where the Customer Is”: Toward a Sales Process That Includes Everyone

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Saturday, June 13, 2020

Sales of any kind has never been a job for the faint of heart, but like everything else it’s become far more challenging lately. Many customers have been stuck at home for months, unable to just walk into a store or even make connections with their usual sales contacts the way they normally would, from their offices and workplaces. So how and where do businesses and salespeople find them? And given these hurdles, how can they effectively influence, inform, and sell to them?

There are no easy answers, but thinking of the process holistically can help put the pieces together. That’s one of the themes that Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group, will be exploring in his presentation, “Making Everyone a Part of the Sales Process,” which will be livestreamed on June 25 as part of the first-ever virtual ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

A Network of Relationships

One of the key notions that Walsh is pushing is that the sales process needs to be seen less as a series of linear “handoffs” and more as a network of ongoing relationships involving different actors—in the indirect channel, three of them, to be exact.

“There’s the influencer, which is—no other way of saying it—influencing or driving consideration,” he explained in a recent conversation. “Then you have referrals, which are a step above influencers in that they will help drive consideration, [but] they will even help lead the customer right to the purchasing point. And then you have resellers, or the actual point of sales. And they’re the ones who actively engage with the customer to the sale point. We typically think of these as ‘handoffs’: once the influencer is done doing their job, they hand off and somebody else picks up the sale. Same thing with referrals—they will hand off to a salesperson, and the salesperson will then nurture them through the process. The reality is we really need to make sure that all these different actors remain persistently engaged as the customer goes through the sales funnel. That’s not really a new idea, but what really is a new idea is thinking that everyone is an influencer, and everyone has potential to refer, and everyone can actually participate in the sales process.”

Walsh maintained that we often underestimate just how many influencers are involved with our customers, or the importance of their role. The influencing itself, he said, takes place for two reasons: what he called “warm-glow altruism” and “anti-altruism.”

“Warm-glow altruism is when you do something because it makes you feel good. You want to help someone or you want to make a difference for them. And warm-glow altruism can have a benefit to you, but you’re doing things to help your customer. That’s one form of influencer. The other form is this anti-altruism, which is doing something to influence someone to buy a third-party product because there is something in it for [you]. An example of that would be, you and I have to do this meeting, so you really should be using Zoom, because Zoom is a really good platform—and oh by the way, here’s my tool that plugs into Zoom and that works. So that’s anti-altruism—you’re influencing them because it’s in your interest.”

Influencers, and Channels, Are Omnipresent

As an example of how this works in practice, Walsh pointed to the professional services marketplace on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The companies on that platform, he said, are “recommending AWS, but they don’t get compensated for that. What they do get compensated for is the services they sell around it. That’s a way of influencing the customer because it’s in your interest. You’re going to see this entire idea of making everyone a part of the sales process become more important going forward as you see more digital channels and omni-channels taking root.”

Walsh defined “omni-channels” as “a means for giving the customer the ability to have a seamless interaction with you regardless of where they are interacting with you. For instance, if I need something, and I want to buy it at Target down the street from my house, I look online: Do they have it? I want to be able to know that I can walk into the store and pick up the item—I can pay for it in advance, I can ask somebody, or access a chat bot and ask questions about it. I can scan it when I’m in the store, see if there’s a coupon available for it. I can research and compare across different platforms. That’s how omni-channel works. It’s not that you have just one channel; you have multiple channels, but the customer has a seamless experience across all of them.”

Last Mile to the Future: A Changing Channel and Evolving Ecosystems

I asked Walsh if taking this omni-channel or “get everyone involved” approach is more critical now, given the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. He thought so, but:

“I think it’s more about the future. The pandemic made us more reliant on digital tools for research and acquisition, but I was just reading today that Macy’s reopened 450 stores, and they have higher than expected sales. Which is great, but you’re going to see that because of the pandemic experience, they’re going to make it easier to purchase online versus in-store. Amazon, for example, is looking to acquire JCPenney. Why? Because Amazon is constantly attacking the last mile. I don’t want to wait for two days to get my widget, whatever it might be: I want to get it now. I know if I just drive down to the corner to that former JCPenney store they’ll have it for me—or they’ll have it for me in a day as opposed to shipping it in two days. Certain things are going to happen as a result of this—that’s not just a B2C example, that’s going to happen across B2B channels.”

And as we move more rapidly into that future, the traditional indirect sales channel is undergoing change as well.

“It’s becoming a part of the ecosystem,” Walsh said. “I think digitalization is something that everyone has to not just give serious consideration to, they have to figure out what their digital strategy is going to be, and build out the muscle to be able to communicate effectively with customers regardless of where the customers are interacting with them. Think about this just in terms of customer service: if the customer calls you up, they can talk to somebody who can retrieve their order history, who can retrieve their trouble tickets, etc. Or they can go into a portal and get the same information themselves. They need to have these capabilities to meet the customer’s expectations. The customers want this, it’s not something that we’re trying to invent. We’re not trying to push a concept out into the world—the world’s already adopted it, it’s us trying to catch up to them.

“Here’s the thing,” he continued. “I deal with channel strategy. I help companies recognize what their best routes to market are, and how do we most effectively get to them. The biggest mistake I see companies make is they go, ‘Oh! We need partners to expand our sales and our sales coverage.’ Why is that? Partners have revenue. They have customers, therefore they have revenue, and we should be able to tap into those customers. That’s not the reason for doing this. The reason for doing it is because the partners will do something either you can’t do or you won’t do. Otherwise, you don’t have enough separation between you for justification.

“There’s a reason why we have channels,” Walsh concluded. “The traditional reason for having channels is to have a point of sale where the customer is. And the reason why we need to have omni-channels and we need to engage with everyone who has a piece of the sales process is because we need to be where the customer is.”

Tags:  2112 Group  B2B channels  channel  channel strategy  channels  ecosystems  Influencers  Larry Walsh  network  parnters  referrals  resellers  sales 

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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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ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Highlights Exceptional Contributions: Part 3—From Great Platforms to Epiphanies

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, August 17, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The following is a continuation from Part 2 of the ASAP Summit Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A Panel session, which took place last March at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held in San Diego, Calif. Highlighted on the podium for their exceptional company contributions were Celine Schillinger of Sanofi Pasteur; Chris Haskell of Bayer; Maria Olson of NetApp; and Kevin Hickey of BeyondTrust. The session was moderated by John W. DeWitt, CEO of JW DeWitt Business Communications and publisher and editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance Magazine.  After DeWitt finished his questions, the audience jumped in with their own, one of which is included at the end of this post. 

Describe the greatest epiphany of your career, something that changed your worldview and made you a better executive or leader.

Maria: This was definitely an epiphany: I started working in the supply chain and felt like I was always in the trunk and someone else was driving. I wanted to get in the car. I had more value to give. I then tried product management and was lucky to work for a small division in telecom. I felt like a high tech janitor. And when you try to do everything, you don’t really do anything right to some degree. But in the end, that was all great training ground. My most challenging job, the one I didn’t like the most, was the most beneficial.

Chris: When you do the drug discovery business, 20 to 30 new drugs are approved each year. The more I stepped back, the more I realized my passion was about connecting and empowering rather than being an adventurer and discoverer. I began looking for ways to impact the company, writing strategies on how to create this hub, referring to how to move things along. And advancing the technology to beat cancer I get such joy out of being part of that.

Kevin: I worked for IBM and became one of the glorified gophers for the chairman’s office. Years later, I was sitting in a boardroom seeing a patient system that was broken. It was just so bad. It was a great and fabulous company, but at that point, I realized I wanted to go somewhere smaller.

Maria, FlexPod is a platform. Solutions die very quickly. You created a platform that was able to evolve, and you won an ASAP award several years ago because you took the time to get it right.

Maria: At NetApp, we do it similarly to what Kevin has described [see Part 2 of this blog series]. We step back, ask “what is the value we are delivering,” and hold ourselves to a higher level of thinking.

Celine: I would advocate to go faster and refrain from overthinking. In pharma, every step becomes huge and complicated. It’s as if it feeds itself with its own complexity. We spend more time building than actually doing it. It’s important to realize when perfection is needed, and when it is not.

Audience question from Luna of Belgium: How do you organize this? I understand that purpose, mastery, and a sense of perfection need to be everywhere. But do you create mastery throughout the organization, or do you create the silo for really good professionals? What is the tradeoff between mastery and autonomy? The silo is so natural for pharma.

Chris: Bayer went through a transformation of its alliance structure years ago. There are other parts of the organization in alliance management, and now we are starting to develop best practices and work with them. There are different frameworks within the organization. We’ve also started talking about rolling out trainings that we think are valuable for this transformation.

Maria: I work for companies where alliances are spread out, corporate strategic alliances are all over the map. HP brought the question to a leadership council and surveyed top strategic alliances. At the end of the day, [leadership recognized that] we need to stop having four to five people calling us from your company, and the decision they made was to pick new patterns from a management standpoint. It’s very different to manage everything strategically.

Kevin: It shouldn’t just be executives making decisions. You want to find the right people who have a great viewpoint, such as a systems engineer, and you pull them in. You need to find the knowledge workers to help your collaboration. You have to find the right people. Executives are not looking at all of the details every day.

Celine: There’s often a long debate in companies about quality belonging to the quality department. Actually, quality belongs to everyone who wants to own it. Co-create the purpose. It’s attractive to be co-owned. Anyone who feels they can contribute to the way we work is welcome. Boundaries become less important. What is important is how motivated and connected people are in the organization. Instead of appointing teams, we called for volunteers and asked why they wanted to lead the change initiative. We ended up with a team of 25. The jury, which is made up of half volunteers and half leaders, needed to focus on emotional intelligence and a willingness to help. It’s a peer-to-peer network. People want to make a difference. When you tap into this pool, you achieve miracles.

This concludes ASAP Media’s three-blog series covering the Spotlight Leadership Forum Q&A. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.  http://membersstrategicalliances.site-ym.com/blogpost/1143942/ASAP-Blog

Tags:  alliances  Bayer  BeyondTrust  Celine Schillinger  Chris Haskell  frameworks  Kevin Hickey  Maria Olson  NetApp  network  product management  Sanofi Pasteur  strategic alliances 

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On the Cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, How Agile is Your Alliance?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Being brittle during a time of industry change can break a fragile allianceand even a business. Agility is key to surviving disruption, especially when a major shift is taking place to a new industrial age. Find out how your company can adapt and weather the change at the session “Agile Alliances: Catalyst for the Next Industrial Age,” as part of the 2017 Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA. The session will be moderated by Ann E. Trampas, CSAP, of the University of Illinois—Chicago, with panelists Anthony DeSpirito, CSAP, Schneider Electrics; Gaye Clemson, Globalinkage Consulting; Michael Young, Klick Health; Philip Sack, CSAP, Asia Collaborative Business Community. Sack provided these insights into the session during a recent interview.

How should companies prepare for the fourth industrial revolution with the increase in multi-partnering?

If we accept that the external drivers of global change are going to continue challenging organizationsslow economic growth, digital disruption, globalization, geopolitical uncertainty, speed of change, new nimble competitors, etc.then there is great pressure on organizations to become more agile, innovate, and continually adapt and change. However, this requires additional strategic thinking from previous approaches of value-chain efficiencies, market regulations (barriers to entry), improving costs management, and competitive positioning (differentiation). Success now requires greater thinking about how to continue driving new innovations, customer centricity (creating value), enhancing collaboration (external, internal), and new or adjacent market positions while simultaneously improving performance. That is no mean feat!

Why is it essential for partnerships to become more agilefaster, lighter, more flexible?

There is an increasing appetite for organizations to engage in more strategic collaboration and alliance partnerships, in part driven by the global changes affecting many organizations. Managed effectively, with appropriate support and investment, these relationships assist organizations to enhance their agility, market responsiveness, and new innovation efforts. Many organizations are looking at their strategic partners and networks of partners as a faster way of achieving these objectives rather than typical M&A (buying), or organic internal development (building). This “need to speed” implies that new collaborations and alliances focus on quickly assembling and disassembling around customer/market requirements, delivering rapid prototyping and development capabilities, and operating comfortably within complex and ambiguous situations.

How can alliance managers make their collaborations more agile and successful?

A good place to start would be to review existing collaborations and strategic alliances and how they support achieving these objectives, i.e., new innovations, co-creation capability, improving customer centricity, new products and service solutions, and incremental go-to-market approaches. This open dialogue provides an opportunity to review the original focus and strategic intent of the alliance, what is now required, and where the next evolution of the relationship needs to take place. However creating new alliance relationships that support these new strategic imperatives will involve taking a slightly different approach. Given that these strategic imperatives address significant challenges facing the organization, a firm-wide approach is required for success. The alliance management function has a natural orientation towards strategy, firm-wide thinking, facilitation, collaboration, and ecosystem orchestration. Hence, it should be in the perfect position to lead efforts to create cross-functional teams that would focus on creating, supporting, and delivering to these imperatives. These teams would include members from executive, strategy, research and development, marketing, and human resources and have a strong focus on entrepreneurial action and creation—in effect, a start-up way of thinking within the organization.

 
Is there anything specific to Asia that you think readers might want to know to improve their alliances with Asian companies?

Similar large-scale issues and challenges are being addressed by organizations across Asia as they are worldwide. Engaging within this area is quite exciting and challenging and should be done in a considered and measured approach. There certainly is a strong emphasis on relationships, a natural entrepreneurial spirit, and orientation to deal making. This requires addressing opportunities and making alliances aware of the various local and cultural contexts. This often takes quite some time to evolve. The key message is to do some research, find some local support, and be patient.

Tags:  alliance  alliance partnerships  Ann E. Trampas  Anthony DeSpirito  collaborations  cross-functional teams  cultural  ecosystem orchestration  Gaye Clemson  innovation  Michael Young  network  partners  Philip Sack 

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