Complementary Capabilities and Strategy Keep Vodafone and Enterprise Services Partnership Fresh

Think of great partnerships and who or what springs to mind? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, dance duo and among the Hollywood greats, are an obvious pairing: with so much ability, chemistry and pizazz, their audiences just wanted more. In business, it’s got to be more than show time, of course, and for a relationship to endure and stay relevant to customers in changing market conditions, partners have to refresh and adapt.

What’s more, partnership is becoming strategically more important to CEOs and IT chiefs who need to bring on board new partners – and fast – in order to execute on digital business ambitions. According to Gartner Group, 70% of CIOs intend to change their sourcing mix in the next 2 to 3 years, while the Economist Central Intelligence Unit estimates 63% of line of businesses will source IT capabilities externally.

Michael Hilsenrath, Alliance Partner Business Development at Vodafone, confirmed these trends when we spoke at Discover London, 2016 about the strategic partnership between HPE and Vodafone. “At a global conference about strategic partnership I recently attended, a survey of Fortune 500 delegates showed that more than 50% of CEOs have strategic partnering on their agenda for the next 3 years”, he pointed out.

Drawing on his own experience of cultivating the relationship with HPE, Michael confirmed that a business partnership is not a simple task and never achieved overnight. “HPE and Vodafone have a longstanding relationship as customers and suppliers to each other. But we have strong executive relationships and complementary capabilities, too”.

The complementary portfolio enables the partnership to introduce new features and capabilities to clients – either separately or collectively – at lower cost or negligible cost, and much faster than previously. “The partnership is a great driver for business”, Michael affirmed. Clients from all sectors and with varying needs can be served by the partnership, plus the two individual partners get to grow their own capabilities and enhance their own brand along the way.

A large UK government department was one such mutual client of the HPE-Vodafone partnership. Vodafone delivered an integrated solution which combined its managed wide area and other communications services with HPE’s managed LAN services.  “Together, we were able to very quickly deliver a differentiated service”. Similarly, communications and data capabilities were delivered jointly to a paramedic organisation enabling consultants in accident and emergency units to advise paramedics in ambulances.

At a technology level, the partnership is an opportunity to expand technical capability and to enhance reputation. “We’ve taken HPE Helion into our cloud portfolio, and it’s quickly given us hybrid cloud capability.  In addition this we offer related HPE CPE (customer premises equipment) solutions as part of our hybrid cloud solution or to refresh a client estate. Both offerings allow us to have a different conversation and give customers a different perception of what we can do.  HPE is learning how to take our comms infrastructure to their clients as well. It’s quite a mix”.

For companies seeking new partners, not only are complementary capabilities an absolute necessity, but business strategy must fit together, too, advises Michael. “There are certain organisations we would never partner with”. Additionally, he counsels, make sure there is commitment from executive level. “Your relationships have to be both broad and deep, and constantly refreshing the partnership offer. What works for year 1 and 2, won’t work for year 3 – markets and capabilities change”.

Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.