ELEVATING PARTNERSHIP SUCCESS IN
MODERN TECH COMPANIES
Microsoft, Google, Apple, Atlassian all have one thing in common - they achieved rocketship scale through their integration, service and developer partner ecosystems.
Despite the huge impact Partnerships teams have in tech companies it is still rare to see a Partnerships or BD leader on the executive leadership team.
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Partnerships Leaders is the invite-only industry association for Partnership, Channel, and Alliances leaders at technology companies to share best practices, receive guidance from peers, and build relationships in this fast-growing space.
Elevating Partnership Success In Modern Technology Companies
Partnering is a basic human instinct. People need partnerships like they need water to drink and air to breathe. From the beginnings of our lives through our adult years, we form partnerships at home, at school, and at work, repeating the process as we create families and jobs of our own. People also need partners in business. The bottom line is that everyone needs to work with other people they can trust even within an organization. You can try to go it alone, but at the end of the day, knowing how to build partnerships in business can make a huge difference in your success.
Technology partnerships assist companies and agencies in implementing and optimizing technical systems. In the software industry, these partnerships can be formed between the organizations that use these systems in their daily operations and the vendors who provide them. Or they can be formed between vendors who have identified urgent tasks that are not core to their business but that they cannot accomplish alone. Technology partnerships are flexible. Relationships between companies that create and use technology are like other business relationships. Business relationships aren't set in stone. But agie partnerships can enable companies to take care of their core business while opening themselves up for collaboration in new business opportunities.
Technology partnerships help vendors roll out new products and help technology users implement new systems smoothly. For software creators, technology partnerships are part of the answer to the question of build or buy. For software customers, technology partnerships enable collaboration where collaboration is useful. These partnerships can also provide platform compatibility that integrates IT systems from different companies to operate in sync with each other.
Our suggestions on building successful partnerships in this article are useful for any software company thinking about forming a technology company, but they are also useful for any organization looking to embed analytics in any process, product, or service.
Advantages of Partnership
No company can afford to not deliver what its customers expect. Software companies have to decide whether the time and money spent on developing a new feature will provide a commensurate improvement in market share and profitability. Software users have to decide whether they can train their staff to use new software features or they need to outsource the use of that feature to satisfy their customers. Or companies can look for the advantages of a partnership with other companies that have the resources they need.
One of the key elements of a successful partnership working together is timing. Decisions to build, buy, or seek a partnership depend on the urgency of the task and the centrality of the task to company success. It's helpful to look at the build, buy, or partner decision in these terms:
If customers aren't demanding a new feature or service and the new feature or service isn't core to the company's product, then the best decision is business as usual. There's no need to buy the feature or the service, and there's time to create it in-house.
If customers want a new feature or service that is important to the company's core business, but they don't want it right away, it's still a good idea to create the new feature or to rev up for the new service in-house. Profitability and control are greater when your company does its own product or service development.
If customers want a new feature or service and they want it right now, and those customers are core to your business, and your company is not in a position to provide it, then it's time to buy the feature or hire the service. Partnerships sometimes take too long to negotiate for a timely rollout.
If customers want a new feature or service right away, and it's not a core feature of your business, then it's a good idea to explore a technology partnership. Buy what you must have right now to stay in business. Create technology partnerships to take advantage of new opportunities for growth that aren't make or break for your business.
The time to build a new feature is when it is core to your business but not urgent. The time to buy a new feature is when it is both core to your business and needed right away. And the time to enter a new technology partnership is when you see business opportunities your organization cannot optimize on its own.
Examples of Partnership
Let's take a look at a few examples of how technology partnerships play out in the real world.
Processors from a single manufacturer have powered smartphones for decades. But it wasn't until 2010 that the maker of the world's most popular pad computer started using those processors in its products. The runaway success of this pad computer made those processors a must-have in other pad computers and even in laptops.
As recently as 10 years ago social media websites were treated as, well, websites. It wasn't until a games company recognized that social media was a great place to play games that we all started to regard social media as a platform for other activities.
The world's most successful maker of smartphones wasn't always the leader in its market. Even though it had world-class expertise in both hardware and software for smartphones, it only became predominant in its market after it teamed up with the world's number one search engine.
The world's most commonly used operating system was barely a blip on the radar screen until the world's then-largest manufacturer of personal computers started using it. The operating system only runs on a particular kind of processor, and as a result 80% of computers worldwide have that company's chips inside.
The lesson from these and other famous technology partnerships is that technology partnerships work best when both companies are young and competing in a new market with explosive growth. Partnerships between unequally matched companies can quickly turn into competition. But it isn't just huge international companies that can benefit from technology partnerships. Sometimes in the best business partnerships it isn't just size that matters. Even a small company may benefit from a technology partnership that provides:
Expertise, an in-depth understanding of the technology relevant to your market.
Unbiased recommendations, that save your company's having to do research.
Time and money, when your technology partners provide and support the solutions they provide your business.
A small to mid-sized business may want to outsource cybersecurity. Small to mid-sized companies may want to let another firm take care of data backup. Or they may depend on another company to provide tech support 24/7. It's just a matter of making the right connections.
Partnership Strategy Framework
The key to success in partnership building strategies, especially in brand partnership strategy, is to make your choices for technology partners from the broadest possible selection of potential partners. To do that, you will need either to be a global leader in your market, which you probably aren't yet, or you will need to work through an agency.
Technology partnership agencies can introduce your company to many different kinds of partners that have different business models and that are different sizes. The one thing that the potential technology partners you can research through your agency have in common is that they are very good at providing a depth of expertise for businesses like yours. They can determine exactly the solution that is right for your company. They can complement those technology solutions with impartial advice and the service you need to implement the technology without taking on more staff of your own.
Technology partnership agencies know that you are in the business of running your business, and not just playing the role of systems architect for your technology solutions. Agencies realize that your core business isn't implementing someone else's technology, and they can help you make facts-based, profits-driven, logical decisions for choosing among the many potential technology partners for your company's technology needs.
When you achieve successful partnerships in business, how do you know it?
Two important facts about IT partnerships are (1) nearly every smaller company has a technology partnership with one or more big IT companies, and (2) those partnerships don't work as well as they could for the smaller companies because the different big-company technologies tend to wind up in separate silos. Successful partnerships integrate services from multiple partners.
One of the most important successful business partnerships characteristics is attention to U/X. The experience of vendor technology shouldn't have your staff constantly having to refer to user manuals. Your technology partner's contributions should fit seamlessly with your existing systems. All successful business partnerships examples include examples of openness. You have to have easy and open access to your partner-vendor's IT stack for development purposes.
Successful partnerships examples also include examples of laser-focus. It is very important to be clear and focused on your market strategy, your product roadmap, and what the opportunity at hand truly is. Successful partnerships always involve open communication and clear value for both parties. And in the software world, successful business partnerships tend to be developer-centric. It's important to realize that developers don't know how well their software and algorithms work until they are posted at least in your organization.
What Makes A Good Partnership In Business?
What makes a great partnership in business, not just in the technology business, but in any business endeavor?
One of the primary characteristics of a good partnership is supportiveness. Both partners have to feel they are pulling the same way and have the same goals in sight.
Another part of what makes a good partnership is cohesion. Both parties have to be able to trust the other. Both parties have to be able to treat each other as equals in the business situation at hand, committed to open communication to work out problems as they arise.
A key consideration in how to build partnerships within an organization is security. This doesn't mean protecting individuals from themselves or depriving individuals of opportunities for personal and professional growth. But it does mean that individuals can grow in a safe environment, mistakes and all.
And a key consideration in how to build partnerships with community organizations is remembering that process in community organizations is a lot stickier than process in business organizations. It's important for the business partner to be very clear about their goals and needs to build seamless cooperation, usually slowly.
Partnerships are easier with partnership leaders. We're here to elevate partnerships in modern tech companies.