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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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Vanguard Ecosystem Leadership: The Highly Successful Evolution of Salesforce’s Partnering Practices

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Salesforce’s vanguard leadership has been exemplary when building strong partnering ecosystems. As a rainmaker in the API economy, the company designed the largest technology ecosystem and most active cloud marketplace. Leslie Tom, senior vice president of AppExchange marketing and programs, has played a significant role in that transformation. In her session “API Economy: Salesforce AppExchange Partner Ecosystem” 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, she plans to share strategy and insight on how to build and benefit from a strong partnering ecosystem, and the invaluable role alliance managers play in fostering a healthy ecosystem.

“Our alliance managers at Salesforce are different than at other tech companies,” Tom began the interview. “They are involved throughout the entire process of recruiting partners to build solutions, onboarding partners, and working with partners on their go-to-market for business growth. They are building customer success from day one. Our alliance managers are critical to the success of the partners, [and we are] all focused on the joint success of our customers. When partners come into our ecosystem, the sole focus really is on partner and customer success. We have a saying at Salesforce to our partners: ‘When you succeed, we succeed.’”

In late 2005, Tom joined Salesforce and started recruiting partners for the AppExchange. The AppExchange was launched in 2006. From the beginning, Salesforce had “partner account managers” that acted like alliance managers, she explained. During the past 12 years, the company developed a much larger team that is now “100 percent focused on partners, their success and joint customer success.” Salesforce’s alliance managers work with one to many partners, depending on the company size and revenue opportunity. One of the company’s newest partners, Nokia, underwent a transformation similar to what many larger Fortune 500 companies are now trying to create—new revenue channels through partnerships, she continued. The former phone maker transformed to serve communications service providers, governments, and consumers.  Nokia created Nokia Intelligent Care Assistant solution on the AppExchange to provide holistic view of the customer to drive fast solutions to customer care issues.

The AppExchange—the #1 enterprise cloud marketplace—also goes by another name: AppExchange, the Salesforce Store. “We refer to AppExchange as the Salesforce Store because it offers much more than apps,” she said. “In today’s customer-driven world, we have apps, components, bots, data sets, and more. In 2006, we were more of an app directory where customers could find Salesforce extensions. Today, the AppExchange offers intelligent recommendations, personalized engagement and guided learning paths to help our customers find the right solutions faster. We have more than 5,000 solutions and more than 6,000,000 installs on the AppExchange.”

Other app marketplaces offer a one-to-one exchange, such as if you download an app for your phone, she explained about the difference. “On the AppExchange, one solution can be deployed to thousands of users; it’s not a one-to-one exchange. In fact, 88 percent of all of our customers are using AppExchange solutions and 89 percent of the Fortune 100 use AppExchange solutions. What is also unique about the AppExchange is that we think about it like Amazon in terms of customer reviews and ratings. If you go to AppExchange.com, there are over 80,000 customer reviews with star ratings, so our customers can look at multiple solutions, evaluate on peer reviews, and find the right fit for their business challenges.”

She then returned to the central theme of the session and reiterated the most important point: building a strong partner ecosystem focused on the success of your customers. “If your focus is on customer success, your partners and your company will be successful together. That is how we work with our alliance managers—to ensure that our partners are focused on customer success.”

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:  alliance managers  Amazon  API Economy  AppExchange  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  customers  ecosystem  Leslie Tom  partners  Salesforce  solution  transformation 

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Ready to Externalize? Start internally.

Posted By Stuart Kliman and Electra Hui, Vantage Partners (ASAP EPP), Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

In the past, most companies assumed that the way to create value and, indeed, to win in the marketplace was to have the singular best internal capabilities—from research to innovation to development to manufacturing and beyond. Today, more and more companies know that the best way to bring greater value to customers is by finding, accessing, and taking advantage of innovation wherever it exists—which is, of course, frequently outside the company. They know, in other words, that the key to winning is to “externalize”.

But while the will to externalize is there, and many firms have taken various efforts to do it, most still haven’t truly captured the promise of externalizing. Why? Because while they espouse externalizing as a goal, they haven’t fully embedded the notion of externalization into their internal processes and behaviors. They’re stuck in an outsourcing mindset (at best), focused on ensuring that their internal efforts are as strong as possible and looking to partner only when they believe they have gaps or, perhaps, that there is some unique external capability that they need to leverage. External partners are viewed as a means of fulfilling a specific, targeted function or technology instead of fundamental elements of the company’s strategy.

To successfully capture the value promised by externalization, you need to change the way you think and the way you operate. That means shifting the foundations of the organization from an assumption that you need to win through your own expertise to an assumption that you will win through world-class partnering, broadly defined.

Organizational and Behavioral Drivers for Successful Externalization.
Once you’ve made the mindset shift to winning through partnering, the next step is to embed that mindset into every aspect of the organization—from culture to organizational structure to incentives to processes and tools to skills and behaviors. Otherwise, you’ll have only limited success. Below are just a few of the things organizations need to do to externalize successfully.

  1. Create and communicate a clear and coherent external relationship strategy, so potential partners bring their best opportunities to you. It’s important to proactively, externally communicate the extent and seriousness of your new model and the porousness of your boundaries.
  2. Build the operational interfaces for drawing on external resources. When partnership is baked into operations, companies can move rapidly into new initiatives and markets with a broader set of strategic objectives. This often requires adopting a project mindset, in which internal and external capabilities can be tapped quickly and seamlessly for any given effort, without regard to employment status. It also requires building budgets that account for variable external costs.
  3. Be open to creative, “win-win” partnering structures that get the company access to the best opportunities. Companies must be comfortable with creating fit-for-purpose relationship structures that allow for maximum and fair value creation based on the unique needs of each partner.
  4. Ensure partners feel respected and would want to work with you in the future. When companies move slowly on decisions, de-prioritize partner meetings, or undervalue partner contributions or expertise, those partners aren’t likely to bring their best. When partners feel respected, on the other hand, relationships flourish, and companies are viewed as partners of choice.
  5. Train people on how to manage and engage in external relationships successfully. To make partnerships work, people within your organization need to have solid collaboration, influence, and negotiation skills. Managers must be deft at creating and supporting just-in-time teams that can both leverage and deal with difference.
  6. Address issues with partners in a transparent and collaborative manner. Proactive identification, management, and accommodation of difference—between company and partner strategies, goals, culture, risk tolerance, etc.—has to be part of the organizational DNA.  Both parties need to be committed to experimenting together, working iteratively, and periodically reflecting on what is and isn’t working.

Successful externalization doesn’t happen on its own. Leaders need to explicitly define the change in their organization’s strategic assumptions, articulate the implications for the way people will work and how the organizational model will shift, and—most important—purposefully and methodically move the organization to the new, externalized model. Otherwise, externalization will remain nothing more than a nice idea at best, a failure at worst. 

Tags:  Electra Hui  Externalization  operational interfaces  Organizational and Behavioral Drivers  Partnering structure  partners  strategic  Stuart Kliman  Vantage Partners 

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Five Ways to SCORE Big When Overcoming Obstacles and Conflict in Alliance Relationships (Part Two)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, April 12, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Part One of this blog post covers how Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management at Xerox Worldwide Alliances, explained Xerox’s SCORE framework for improving alliance relationships in his 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit workshop “Onboarding Your Partner: Understanding How to Design a Partnership that Works.” Xerox adopted the framework to help overcome and make sense of cultural and relationship challenges in alliances, he explained. The template has five important plateaus:

  • Select: (target the right partners)
  • Connect (implement business and personal drivers)
  • Onboarding (create a very structured, easy onboarding process)
  • Revenue (take on and understand the sales)
  • Execute (be on task; take what doesn’t work and make it work)

Part Two of this blog post continues Arreche’s description of how the framework works through implementation.

Most alliance relationships hit a snag. The SCORE tool alerts us when a rough point is coming, Arreche explained. Before Xerox implemented this tool, the company’s partner success rate was a dismal 30 percent. Now it’s over 70 percent, he added. Alliance professionals in large organizations sometimes become enamored with building complex tools. What we really need is something like the SCORE model to focus on the process. It’s simple to use with clear standards. Our tools are typically one-sheeters outlining the steps an alliance manager needs to take and understand what we do every day, he said.

It should be leveraged to everybody working in the alliance. It’s all about continuous improvement with all relationships in the alliance: “SCORE creates a common language that gives alliance partners an easy ways to adapt their course,” he said.

You can ask useful questions with each step of SCORE. Take Select, for example: How do you know how to select the right alliance partner? Then there is Connect, which is probably the most important step. At Xerox, for example, we want our alliance and channel managers asking questions about matching business and personal drivers, Arreche explained. You can ask questions about misaligned objectives—from building a strategy session to building a joint business plan to key performance indicators and metrics. There are two types of drivers in any relationship. Business drivers, which are about the goals for being together, and personal drivers. What are the personal drivers, and how do you understand what’s important to Nathan and what important to me? How do you build trust and make sure the end goals are aligned? Which raises the question of Onboarding. If Nathan is new in the company, what are his drivers? He wants to make this work. He wants to show he has room for promotion and ascending in the company and that his new hire was a good idea. He wants to create brand awareness in his organization. How do you uncover his personal drivers in a fast, easy, simple way to get alignment with both parties? It’s important to set business and personal drivers to get commitment and maximize Revenue. “What’s tough is Execution. How are you going to make it work? What performance measures do we have? What is the timeline for execution?”

When you have SCORE for enhancing communication by designing and asking key questions, you improve relationships, which makes it easier to create and align strategy, he concluded. 

Tags:  alliance relationships  alliances  business driver  Candido Arreche  collaboration  Conflict in Alliance Relationships  connect  Cultural combinations  execute  onboarding  partner management  partners  revenue  SCORE  Select  Xerox Worldwide Alliances 

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Five Ways to SCORE Big When Overcoming Obstacles and Conflict in Alliance Relationships (Part One)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, April 11, 2018

“Every partnership is bringing two cultures together,” explained Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management at Xerox Worldwide Alliances. He was reminding the audience at his workshop “Onboarding Your Partner: Understanding How to Design a Partnership that Works” about the challenges associated with cultural mergers. The energized presentation recently took place at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit,  “Propelling Partnering for the On-Demand World: New Perspectives + Proven Practices for Collaborative Business,” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

Cultural combinations can be potentially explosive or provide pressure that can act as catalysts for progress and innovation. How you manage them will make the difference in the outcome. Alliances are all about relationships among people, he pointed out, while recalling a trade magazine article that stated that 80 percent of marital relationships are in divorce, separation, or undergoing counseling. In the world of alliances, 50 to 70 percent are in jeopardy. “If we are going to spend time and money to run alliances, we want to make sure they execute,” said the Six Sigma Black Belt.

He then illustrated an emergency landing to drive home his point: US Airways Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III’s historic landing on the Hudson River in 2009. The “miraculous” touchdown took place when both engines failed after a run-in with a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff.  Sully’s quick thinking under pressure resulted in a hair-raising yet smoothly executed landing that saved all 155 passengers on board.

“How do we execute a landing on a body of water where all passengers survive, which has never been done before?” Arreche then asked. “What was going on? What was going through the pilot’s mind? And how did he execute on it? He was communicating with the airport control tower while under a lot of pressure trying to do what was best for the passengers.”

Sully made great decisions based on three fundamentals that pilots follow, which are similar to how we build frameworks, he purported.

  • They have to aviate—they need to get from point A to point B and keep the plane in the air.
  • They have to navigate—the pilot needs to know the parameters and where he is going.
  • They have to communicate—they need to know how to work the tools to communicate.

Sometimes when we are under severe pressure in our relationships, we seem to not perform. But we need to keep our lives and the alliance going and navigate through the challenges. We need to figure out how to move quickly and overcome resistance, he said. Several years ago, Xerox adopted a framework called SCORE to help overcome and make sense of what’s happening with these types of challenges, he explained. The template has five important plateaus:

  • Select: (target the right partners)
  • Connect (implement business and personal drivers)
  • Onboarding (create a very structured, easy onboarding process)
  • Revenue (take on and understand the sales)
  • Execute (be on task; take what doesn’t work and make it work)

For an explanation of how SCORE can be used to enhance communication and seamless execution in your alliances, see Part II of this blog post. 

Tags:  alliances  business driver  Candido Arreche  collaboration  Conflict in Alliance Relationships  connect  Cultural combinations  execute  onboarding  partner management  partners  revenue  SCORE  Select  Xerox Worldwide Alliances 

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