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Cleopatra and Marc Antony: 3 Lessons for Alliances in the Digital Economy

The recent Ides of March remind us of the assassination of Julius Caesar in Rome over 2,060 years ago. That event led to one of the earliest examples of partnership: that between Marc Antony and Cleopatra. What started as a successful and high profile alliance was ultimately disastrous for both parties. With its highs and lows, the lessons from their 11-year union remain relevant to today’s increased focus on digital partnerships.

So, here are three dos inspired by a true, if ancient, life story.

Start with a bold ambition: If Marc Antony had succeeded in winning sole control of Rome, with Cleopatra as his queen, he could have changed the course of the Roman Empire, making the world we live in today a different place. Successful and long-lasting partnerships have a vision at their core, which includes, but transcends, immediate commercial interests.

Deliver value to each other: In 38 BC, Marc Antony needed Cleopatra’s troops and money to attack the Parthian Empire (located in today’s Iraq/Iran). She needed his protection after the death of her previous lover, Julius Caesar. An early, tactical, win-win is a good start for any partnership. The 2014 tie-in between Uber and Spotify (your favourite playlist welcomes you as you enter the hired car) provides added value, meaningful competitive advantage and exclusivity to both companies.

Co-create: Between 40 BC and 36 BC, the couple had three children, a sign of mutual attachment and the assurance (although eventually thwarted) that successors would perpetuate their mission to change the face of the Eastern Mediterranean. Short of procreating, partners today should co-create. A joint venture (such as Avanade, the company founded by Microsoft and Accenture), a shared innovation centre (AT&T and Amdocs jointly run one of the ‘Foundries’ near Tel Aviv in Israel) or common go-to-market plans (such as the $1.5bn BT/HP alliance of the mid-2000s) are some modern examples.

Long-lasting partnerships have a vision at their core which transcends commercial interests
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Vincent Rousselet

Author: Vincent Rousselet

Vincent is founder and MD of V Rousselet & Associates. With more than 20 years of strategic and operational marketing experience, predominantly in IT and telecommunications, he is an experienced global marketer and strategist who has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable organizations and brands in Europe, America and Asia. Vincent is passionate about customers, who must be at the heart of strategy and transformation.