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Sellers, Partners, and Customers: Reorganization, New Tools, and New Mindsets Drive Change in the Channel at National Instruments

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Before they headed home to Austin, Texas, I caught up with longtime friend Penny Wright, CA-AM, and a new friend (i.e., first-time attendee and presenter) Jimmy Hwang from National Instruments after their session “Connecting Teams and Systems to Advance Channel Opportunities” on Wednesday, March 13, the final day of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Hwang is principal manager, alliance partner program; Wright is global enablement manager on NI’s sales and partner enablement (channels) team. Before NI’s recent reorganization, Wright and Hwang worked on the same team in a matrix structure; now they still work (and present) together, but are housed in different functional areas. In tag-team fashion, the two walked me through the story—and lessons learned—that they shared with the engaged group that attended their session. Here’s a segment of our discussion—you’ll find more of our conversation in forthcoming Strategic Alliance publications.

ASAP Media: What was the purpose of your presentation and what did you talk about?

Jimmy Hwang: The purpose of our presentation was to share the work we have been doing—to share best practices. In terms of how we use systems and tools, we’re trying to adapt to the changes that are happening internally at NI. Two important changes have occurred. The first one is we are focusing on three key industries where our platform is highly differentiated and we see the biggest opportunity to grow. NI serves a wide range of customers in a broad range of industries and applications—and we will continue to do that, but at the same time we are focusing more on our transportation, aerospace/defense/governments, and semiconductor customers. We want to maintain whatever we are doing—but in terms of incremental future investment, we’re want to deepen our relationships and solution offerings to the customers in these three industries.

Second is a change in how we provide sales coverage for our alliance partners. Sellers used to have a mixed book of accounts —for example, I’m a sales person for Texas, and as long as customers and partners are in Texas, they are my account. What’s changed is that we carved out partner accounts and establish a dedicated and separate sales coverage for them. Now, we have partner sales managers, responsible for a set of partner accounts, and they don’t own any end user accounts—all t do is to manage partner accounts. If I’m a regular account manager, that’s what I do—I manage end user accounts. This clarifies the role within sales, delivering more value to customers, partners, and National Instruments.

Penny Wright: We talked about there being a lot of friction over lead sharing. Because of that historical [organizational] setup, our partners were hesitant to share their leads with NI sellers, and sellers who said, “I’m not going to bring partnering into this opportunity because it’s going to bring my commission split down. We have implemented a standard GTM and account planning process where partner sales managers are now driving those integrations and collaborating with those sales account managers.  We adjusted our commission structure to break down the boundaries to opportunity sharing and incentivize sellers to bring partners in earlier in the buying cycle. We actually did that before the reorganization—one of the first steps to getting sellers on board.

From a tools standpoint, in 2013 we brought on our PRM system, Impartner, and were able to stand up a customer-facing directory, allowing partners to manage their own profiles and giving them the ability to market themselves for free. We don’t charge for that, it’s part of their membership. This really enabled us to get our salesforce more educated on who our partners are—it’s almost a sales directory for our sellers to find our partners, so it’s not just the customers who use it to locate a partner.

National Instruments also really was behind on industry tools for CRM. We had homegrown Oracle-based systems that were internally developed, but three years ago, an external sales vice president came onboard and said, “No, we’re standardizing on Salesforce.”

ASAP Media: What are other technology updates and how is the transition going for NI and its partners?

Jimmy Hwang: Because of the now separate, dedicated sales coverage for partners, there is an even stronger need to facilitate the collaboration between our sellers and the partners. So that’s why we introduced the connector module to connect the two systems—Salesforce and Impartner. 

Penny Wright: It’s worked out really well. We have an entire Salesforce business team internally, and that’s all they do is optimize our Salesforce instance. Everybody has tools, connecting with our install base of customers. They can do outbound marketing by connecting to our Eloqua marketing automation. We’ve replaced our internal sales opportunity systems and how we did quoting and pricing and commissions. Now that sales is standardized on Salesforce, Jimmy can pull a report from Salesforce and see partner opportunity pipelines by industry and application focus areas.

We’ve made a lot of progress, but are still just scratching the surface of where we want to go. And a lot of the things that we’ve been working on for years in the alliance program management team are now being adopted because the of the recent business strategy shifts. We now fully recognize that we’ve got to focus and bring our partners into our go-to-market activity. It’s an exciting time for NI and our partners and these efforts have put us in a really good place and position to support the global go-to-market strategy.

See more of the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive, on-site coverage of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit on the ASAP blog and in forthcoming Strategic Alliance publications.

Tags:  Channel  go-to-market strategy  Impartner  Jimmy Hwang  National Instruments  partners  Penny Wright  PRM  Salesforce  tools 

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‘Running on Ice’: Creating a Winning Partnering Team When the Odds Are Against You—Part 2

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“Just getting on the track was a challenge,” Donna Peek, CSAP, vice president, global alliances at Genpact, said during a creative session “Cool RunningsThe Road to Building New Alliance Capability” co-led by her colleague Scott Valkenburgh, CSAP, vice president, global alliances leader. She was further explaining their analogy of their process of building a winning bobsledding team, much as was done for the 1988 Olympics by a Jamaican team (see Part 1 of this blog for background on the movie used to frame for their session).  The analogy was particularly near and dear to Peek’s heart because her grandmother is Jamaican, she said, while modeling her yellow jacket worn for the event. Peek continued to describe Genpact’s challenging experience transitioning into a partnering mindset where they created teams capable of “running on ice.”

“Our organizations are filled with sellers with no partnering experience. We didn’t know how to think about partnering. So we created a  quick and easy checklist to answer the existential question: To partner or not to partner?” explained Peek to rippling laughter throughout the room. The list highlights the following key questions:

  1. Should we consider partnering?
  2. Will partnering increase the likelihood of winning?
  3. Can we team with this partner?
  4. What are my options other than partnering?

We eventually “had in place the owner, experienced coaches,  growing team, strategy. Now we needed uniforms, equipment, etc.,” she further explained. “And you can’t win races without money. That means getting sponsors and establishing partner programs. … In doing that, we work with all the key stakeholders,” she continued, and then talked about areas in need of alignment with the strategy:

  • Marketing
  • Legal
  • Services lines: “We created our Blueprint 2.0 to … understand their strategies and align with our strategies.”
  • Risk/compliance: “We created a vendor governance office at Genpact—not the most ‘partner friendly’ processes.”
  • Sales and the CRM system: “The very first order of business when contemplating partnering, where we looked at fields to tag partners [in our CRM system to] capture data about partnering.” 

Prepping the training track is another important component, added Van Valkenburgh. “The  challenge is to achieving the “perfect slide”—a bobsledding term. When bringing a bobsled onto the track, and getting people to push it, you need to ask: “How do we know the track is running well and consistent?”

Peek and Van Valkenburgh experienced “the antithesis of what every alliance professional experiences,” he observed. “Senior leadership was behind it, but then you get to the other 89,000 people. So you get the funding, support, and visibility, and then you realize there is  concrete underneath [the snow], and someone melted the ice. ... It’s really apparent on the track that that is concrete, not ice,” he joked. “We are a company of entrepreneurs, but a company of entrepreneurs with 90,000 people is a lot of train wrecks. Systems and processes really matter. So how do you combine that track with the entrepreneurial spirit?” he asked. “The last part was, we don’t have a track. If I don’t produce the results, building out the track doesn’t matter. How do we build this track and get the culture behind it?”

What was one of the best tools Genpact used to reconfigure the organization? An alliance maturity model, said Van Valkenburg.  “Most of us have these complex models, these spider webs. What we created was [a simple] six things.

“If you can get the maturity level to advance, the growth potential is huge,” he noted. “This can be difficult for one-on-one partnerships, but multi-tenancy partnerships are even harder. … You have to spend as much internal time with [your organization’s leaders] building a true connection. Once they believe you are going to build a bobsled team, you are in. Your team skillset matters. The involvement of the leadership matters,” he concluded. “The celebration is with the team, not just the alliance partners.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s comprehensive coverage at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

Tags:  alliance professionals  alliances  Donna Peek  Genpact  Global Alliance Summit  partner  partnering mindset  partners  Scott Van Valkenburgh  team 

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The Living Heart Project: Insights from a Global Collaboration

Posted By John M DeWitt, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“If We Work Together, Can We Build a Human Heart?” This was the tagline for Steve Levine’s March 12 Leadership Spotlight session at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. His captivating presentation detailed, in TED Talk style, his multi-year journey as a collaboration leader to find the answer to this question. (Spoiler alert: The answer is yes.)

Levine is the senior director of life sciences at Dassault Systèmes, as well as the founder and executive director of the Living Heart Project. He holds a PhD in materials engineering from Rutgers University, and in 2015 was elected as a Fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Levine opened his presentation by describing his current company, the 40-year-old Dassault Systèmes, a computer-aided design company that evolved to offer a “3D experience” software platform used by many industries and the public sector. Most cars on the road today, Levine said, are designed by Dassault software, which renders three-dimensional experience with visually as well as technically exact realism. Car manufacturers use Dassault simulation technology to not only design cars, but to crash test them as well. For example, BMW, a Dassault customer, stopped physically crash-testing cars in 2013.

Also in 2013, Levine began to explore the idea of building a virtual human heart, one that could be used to diagnose ailments and educate people about the organ. Even in the big data era, this was a truly enormous task, given the amount of detail that he and his team needed to fit in. They needed new models for tissue, fiber orientations, coupled multiphysics (the electrical impulses that control the heart muscle), valves, and hemodynamics (flow of blood through the heart), among other things.

The medical community already has the understanding of the heart necessary to build a digital one, but that knowledge is “deconstructed,” as Levine says, distributed around the globe in many minds and texts and databases. The single greatest challenge, then, was getting all of that knowledge into one spot, then applying it. Or, as Levine asked the audience, once the pieces are gathered, “Can we put it back together?”

In order to put the heart back together, Levine needed to bring together many of the best medical and engineering minds from around the world (his team had members from 24 different countries) in order to pool their knowledge and capabilities. To accomplish this, while protecting what most partners would consider their proprietary intellectual property, he designed a hub-and-spoke collaboration, with Dassault Systèmes at the center. By centralizing trust, he maximized the amount of information exchanged. Not surprisingly, as trust in the Dassault hub grew, the spokes became increasingly comfortable and increasingly open with sharing their knowledge to support the common mission.

In the end, this Herculean feat of collaboration allowed Levine and his team to launch a completed and realistically rendered digital heart into the cloud in 2015. This digital model is expected to pave the way for personalized heart models, used to determine more exact treatments, safer and faster tests for drugs, image diagnostics, and, one day, for this technology to be applied to a patient’s entire body. Doctors and pharmacists would then be able to better design a specific treatment for the patient in question, with no guesswork involved—because the treatment can be tested on the virtual model before given to the real human.

To learn more about Steve Levine and the Living Heart Project, visit www.3ds.com/heart. Stay tuned to the ASAP blog and Strategic Alliance publications for the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive coverage of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.  

Tags:  3D experience  ASAP Global Alliance Summit  collaboration  Dassault Systèmes  life sciences  partners  partnership  Steve Levine  The Living Heart Project 

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‘Running on Ice’: Creating a Winning Partnering Team When the Odds Are Against You—Part 1

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Running on ice. That’s how Genpact’s Scott Van Valkenburgh, CSAP, vice president, global alliances leader and Donna Peek, CSAP, global alliances, described their company’s transition to a partnering mindset in their session “Cool RunningsThe Road to Building New Alliance Capability.” The session took place at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystem” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Despite the challenges, the transition to partnering has served them well: Genpact pulled in $47 million in business in their first year of partnering. The company brought in 8 partners and plans to add 10 more in 2019. But the process “was like running on ice to build the team,” said Van Valkenburgh during a clever retelling of their experience in a session based on the 1993 movie “Cool Runnings.”

The movie is a fictionalized account of the Jamaican bobsledding team that in real life trained for the 1988 Olympics. It was the first time Jamaica competed in the Olympics, and in a category mismatched for a country that rarely sees snow and has average temperatures hovering around 80 degrees.

So what does the Jamaican bobsledding team have to do with Genpact? For Van Valkenburgh and Peek, the process of transitioning Genpact to partnering took considerable training and a highly strategic approach. “We didn’t have the language …. We had to define what partners were,” he explained to the packed room. It was like: “You’re on a journey, we are funding you, we got you a sled. Now train people who have never run on ice before.”

Building the team was structurally challenging with the need to balance roles, weight, and speed—to name just a few of the considerations. Bobsled racing is performed with either a two- or four-person team. A team of four requires sensitive balancing in the sled at the ends and in the center. “If you have four people sprinting and one person is out of sinc, it doesn’t work,” he explained of the analogy. “You have to have people doing the right things in the right order. How do we get homegrown talent …  working well? And how do you create that culture?” he said, describing some of the problems faced.

“I build culture first and processes and goals second. If you can’t get the culture of your team right, then all the challenges happen,” he added, while also pointing out the importance of being open to the fact that the team you had before doesn’t easily fit into the new partnering structure: “You can’t have people who can’t run,” he observed.

To build a world-class team, you need to  create world-class athletes, he said. “There’s a whole reset mindset involved” just getting on the track. To make that happen, Genpact found, you need to do the following:

  • Create tipping points.
  • Build important things. “If it wasn’t going to get us on the track, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Make moments that matter. “That emotional deposit you give, that’s your bank account.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s live, onsite coverage of this session and others from 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. Cynthia B. Hanson is managing editor of ASAP Media and Strategic Alliance publications. 

Tags:  alliances  Donna Peek  Genpact  Global Alliance Summit  partner  partnering mindset  partners  Scott Van Valkenburgh  team 

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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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