Where once we had companies positioning their worth (alongside their chosen partners) against their competitors, times have changed. The same firms that made up the competition have in some cases become strategic partners. Some even call it ‘coopetition’.
The business landscape and business models, supply chains and the objectives that drive it are in a state of constant flux, so the way we approach the boundaries of business has now changed.
Finding the force multiplier
When they get this process right, these firms can use partnership as the peak of digital transformation to drive new profit streams and explore new areas of business development.
One plus one equals three
Successful strategically planned and executed partnerships can result in new business entities that are, in both a virtual and real sense, a place where the ‘whole’ is greater than the sum of the ‘parts’ that go to make it up.
Businesses start to broaden as they share their own DNA and IP (Intellectual Property) with companies working alongside them in the market, though sometimes in a position that is tangentially differentiated from the original firm’s market proposition and area of expertise.
The Internet of Things (IoT) can be used as a prime example to explain the above point. If we think about firms working on the back end the a cloud data centre; companies working on the ‘edge’ of the IoT with device specialization; and all the players somewhere in the middle who work on aspects of connectivity, networking, data analytics, security, maintenance and so on, then a whole ecosystem of partnership collaboration has to exist for the entire process to work.
A virtuous circle of connectedness
As A Case Study of Employee Engagement in AkzoNobel Corporate HR concludes, a wide circle of virtuous development arises from a more connected, more collaborative and more cooperative business model.
Connected firms with a positive view on partnerships have ‘action teams’ that are specifically tasked with looking for areas where new engagements will fit the business’s core operational model and the employees who populate it.
Further bonuses from partnership formations often come in the form of shared and/or combined research and development work, shared responsibility for management, shared strategic decision-making carried out across what is a broader base of board, and technical and financial managers. Plus, in some cases an opportunity to share capital investment programmes.
Okay, so not every partnership is made in heaven, so pick your partners wisely. Think about who you want to work with today, tomorrow and (just perhaps) in 10 years from now, and what it would be like working in opposition to them instead. Once you are ready, strategically and tactically, then take your partner by the hand.
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Author: Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance technology journalist with a specialist focus on the development and management of enterprise software applications and services. He has spent the last twenty years in a variety of technology-focused media roles and as such is fully conversant with the wider technology.