ecosystem cloud

How CROs Can Use Ecosystems for Business Growth

Shifting buyer behaviors have led companies to look for pathways to scalable and sustainable growth. While being first to market can put you at a significant advantage, continuing momentum requires deep insight into the needs of the customer as well as an ability to envision and execute on a long-term strategy for revenue growth across sales, marketing, and product.

Chief Revenue Officers are business leaders first. CRO’s need to understand the shifting marketplace, evaluate the best opportunities for revenue expansion, and increase the lifetime value (LTV) of their customers to the business. 

In order to create sustainable and predictable growth, every channel needs to be a high performing piece of your revenue portfolio. Successful CROs have found ways to leverage their company’s partner ecosystems as an extension of their own team. According to a recent Accenture survey of over 1,200 global executives, “Executives believe that ecosystem participation allows businesses to innovate (63 percent), increase revenue growth (58 percent), access new markets (55 percent) and access new customers (55 percent).”

Accenture Strategy: Ecosystems cornerstone of future growth

Figure 1: Chart from Accenture: Cornerstone of the Future Growth – Ecosystems with a survey of over 1,200 global executives.

Clearly, CROs know that their ecosystem strategy will be critical to their success in driving revenue for their company.  But how do you operationalize an ecosystem strategy in a way that’s predictable, measurable, and scalable?

Great question!  Here are three ways we are seeing successful CROs do exactly that:

1. Break Down the Walls Between Sales and Partners

In the past, there hasn’t been a way for partners and sales leadership to collaborate on their pre-pipeline cadence. Sales and ecosystem partners relied on one-way communication and manual processes in spreadsheets. This has led to low visibility, inaccurate forecasting and little to no collaboration.  

“Modern” Architecture: PRM + Ecosystem Cloud

Figure 2: With Ecosystem Cloud, sales teams and partner business managers are 100% aligned on partner activities across company boundaries in a single, shared network to accelerate pipeline and drive higher win rates.

By operationalizing and automating interdependent relationships in ecosystems, all players that have been given permission, have an accurate, transparent view into pre-pipeline activities as well as the opportunity to build multi-partner sales plans. While this is a huge win for sales, from the CRO’s perspective, this gives predictability and visibility to previously unaccountable and non-transparent processes.

As sales campaigns roll out and CROs can identify and scale best practices, pre-pipeline activity improves, ultimately resulting in better quality opportunities and better customer experience—and, of course, more closed deals from your ecosystem.

2. Mobilize Ecosystem Partners to Help Drive Your Goals

Traditional partnerships are prone to a lack of transparency or hesitation to expose pre-pipeline information. The inability to view data and communicate quickly slows down deal flows. 

According to Constellation Research, over the past two years, the B2B sales cycle has lengthened and the number of decision-makers involved in a sales opportunity has risen from five to seven people. Without an ecosystem single source of record, you’re bound to have multiple partners working on the same opportunities without collaborating, creating redundancies, and leading to wasted resources and lost deals.

With an Ecosystem Cloud platform, everyone has access to the data they need, when they need it. Even more important, this system of record is the single source of truth for all partners, so no one is left in the dark about opportunities or updates they should know about. 

Now, rather than working in isolation on the same opportunities, each partner knows their contribution and can leverage their unique skillset to close business. And when the time comes to evaluate which partner is best for a new account, it’s easy to look at partner contribution data and invite the right partner into the next sales engagement.


pipeline reviews: nominate accounts

Figure 3: With WorkSpan, all partners working on closing a shared opportunity have a single place to collaborate and drive the business to close.

This creates a seamless, powerful process that accelerates deals, establishes a secure system of trust, and records all partner’s contributions from deal inception to closed-won.

3. Build Trust and Drive Revenue Together

Many partnerships begin with lofty goals of combined vision to build innovative solutions together, but often fall victim to fragmented processes and frustrating blind spots, leading to failure. As Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP has often said: “Trust is built in drops and lost in buckets”.  

As a CRO, you have to put the right systems in place to operationalize best practices, provide visibility and accountability, and ultimately build and grow trust across your sales teams and your ecosystem partners. Only by doing this, will you make sure you don’t have a revenue-killing “bucket-drop moment”.

Partner relationships that function in a way that consistently build and grow trust can’t scale with a traditional, manual system. They require an Ecosystem Cloud platform like WorkSpan. WorkSpan supports you and your partner’s needs to stay tightly connected on deal cycles and status, implement best practices across the organization, measure and report on joint pipeline and revenue, and close more business together!

Moving Forward

Today, it’s imperative for CROs to maximize all channels at their disposal to grow revenue and be successful.  Yet the world of partnering has changed dramatically from the old days of turning on a reseller channel and letting it fly.  CROs and their partner teams need to be agile, aligned and operating at the top of their game across a variety of go-to-market motions with partners.  Ecosystem Cloud enables your teams to do that consistently, measurably, and predictably.  

Good selling!


workspan new features

New Product Features: Restrict Participant Visibility, and Metrics Enhancements

As an Ecosystem Cloud category leader, we at WorkSpan keep our customers at the center of everything we do. We are constantly adding new features based on our customers’ feedback and this month, we are excited to share with you the launch of the following key features:

  1. Restrict Participant Visibility
  2. Filter and view funding & claim requests relevant to you
  3. Metrics Enhancements

Let’s dive in.

Restrict Participant Visibility into Your Programs and Solutions

What does it do

With WorkSpan’s new participant visibility restriction feature, you can block a participant’s ability to view information about other participants from other companies in your partner programs and solutions. 

How it helps you succeed

The majority of partner programs, marketing programs, and funds are designed to enable and drive engagement and contributions from multiple partners. However, these programs often include competing partners in the same program.

Similarly, a solution offering from a company can be sold by many reseller partners. Most of these resellers are competitors in a region or industry.

You, as a program host or solution owner, may not want these competing partners to be aware of each other’s presence.

With the new “Restrict Participant Visibility” feature, you can keep your communications and engagement with each partner private and hidden from other participants.

Use Case Example:

  • Partner Programs and Co-solutions:
    • Organizations running different partner programs have multiple partners across multiple regions. Enablement content is shared with all the partners across the program. Systems Integrators (SIs) involved in the program are often competitors on the same deals. Now, you can restrict visibility and the partners will not be able to see who else is involved in the deal. 

Metrics Enhancements

What does it do?

This is one of my favorite additions this month because now you can easily view all your metrics on one page, hide/share metrics, and also view the percent of the goal achieved in the progress bar. 

How does it help you succeed:

1) View All

With a new “View All” button you can view all the metrics on a single page.

WORKSPAN Metrics enhancement view all feature

workspan view all feature

2) Hide Metrics

You now have the ability to hide metrics, so that they are not shown on the Summary/Overview page or on the View All screen. This allows you to build metrics to use in Formulas [link “Formulas” to the KB article on metrics formulas], without having to display the metrics you only need for formula calculations.

WorkSpan Feature: Hide Metrics


3) New  symbols allowed in Metric names

Previously, Metric names had to be alphanumerical. However, our customers asked for greater flexibility with metrics naming conventions.Now you can use symbols such as these when naming a metric:   – : * / | = + # $ € £ % & [ ] ( ) ‘ “ 

4) Percent to Goal Displayed on Metrics cards

Sometimes even a small change can make a big difference. On the top right of the progress bar on a Metric card, you will now see an automatically calculated progress percentage, such as 50.7%, indicating the percentage of the goal that has been reached.  We hope this small change will help you understand how close you are to achieving your goals while avoiding the need to pull up a calculator.

WorkSpan feature: percent of goal displayed


If you have any additional questions regarding our new product features and would like to learn more, please contact us at

“Modern” Architecture: PRM + Ecosystem Cloud

Modern Partnering Enterprise Architecture

Companies today require agile innovation and the ability to quickly form creative solutions to solve customer problems. The need for more agile ecosystems has created a demand for an entirely new way for companies to work with partners with speed, agility, and effectiveness. 

Research from top analyst firms like Gartner, IBM, Accenture, IDC, Forrester, and others show that the top-performing companies have adopted an ecosystem model for partnering.

Companies have been selling their solutions through channel partners (“sell-through” model) for years using traditional PRM solutions. But to remain competitive and thrive in today’s market, modern partnering requires collaborating with your partners in an ecosystem model (“sell-with” model).

What is Ecosystem Cloud?

While this massive disruption is taking place and ecosystems are on the rise, the ecosystem partnering model has lacked a solution designed with these new collaborative partner motions in mind. Companies have been using spreadsheets and emails to collaborate with partners requiring excessive amounts of time and effort for manual updates and data reconciliation between partners. 

what is ecosystem cloud

Ecosystem Cloud is the shared place where all partners engage equally through a single, secure, cloud-based network. Your company can share its solutions, opportunities or marketing plans with selected partners. Your partners can share their solutions, opportunities or marketing plans with you. Notice that explicit sharing is needed – only those users and partners that are in the sharing list are given permission to collaborate.

Ecosystem Cloud enables a collaborative environment. Each company can selectively engage with their ecosystem and customize their own data model, access policies and reports for their needs; integrate with its own SSO, CRM, PRM, and Marketing Automation systems.

“As Is” Architecture: PRM + Spreadsheets

PRM and Partner Portal solutions were designed and built to handle the traditional channel “sell-through” model of partnering.   The philosophy when implementing a PRM and Partner Portal solution is typically:

  • Set up a partner portal
  • Invite partners to your portal (partners login to each company’s different partner portal)
  • Offer training and enablement
  • Enable deal registration
  • Track partner incentives

However, your top partners demand more collaboration with you and want to execute on sell-with, market-with and build-with motions that are customized for their objectives and initiatives. Such collaborative execution is simply not handled by traditional PRM solutions.  In fact, for your top partners, they may also have their own PRM / Portal solution. When that happens, who will log into the other’s portal to transact major deals together? The answer is neither — companies are not using PRMs for these kinds of transactions.

What is used? Your Partner Business Managers (PBMs) – sometimes called Partner Development Directors (PDD) – are using spreadsheets and emails to try to manage their programs, initiatives and pipeline with your top partners.

“As Is” Architecture: PRM + Spreadsheets


The bottom line, if you’re like most companies, your current process to manage your top partners looks like the architecture shown above.  You’re using a PRM solution to handle well-defined packaged use cases with partners (channel marketing, channel enablement, deal registration).  

And for your top partners, your PBMs are managing programs, initiatives, plans, pipeline, solutions, and marketing in their own spreadsheets.  However, each partner manager uses a different format of spreadsheet and a different process depending on the partner they are working with, the region, industry, and solutions they are selling. This makes it hard to report and manage effectively across all your top partners.

“Modern” Architecture: PRM + Ecosystem Cloud

Ecosystem Cloud is built as a network of peer companies that are planning and executing together.  Each company, including your own, logs into one place to work with all of your ecosystem partners. Your partners do the same to work with you and their own partners.  This provides a single, shared system of engagement and system of record to manage their partner build-with, market-with, and sell-with activities.  

As the chart below shows, Ecosystem Cloud allows your PBMs and their counterparts to work in a single place together that securely integrates with your CRM and PRM solutions to align all of your GTM motions with your ecosystem partners.  Many of our customers choose to keep their current PRM and Partner Portal in place to provide a simple login-based model for your volume channel VAR partners to log in and download partner materials or training courses.

“Modern” Architecture: PRM + Ecosystem Cloud

Collaborative Execution via Ecosystem Cloud

An Ecosystem Cloud enables these 3 elements for effective collaborative execution:

  • A Peer Network of Companies — All participating companies in an Ecosystem Cloud are peers across the network and log into one system to connect and conduct business with all other partners on the network.  This allows partners to engage in “n-way” partnerships inviting in whichever partners are working together to bring a solution to market or manage joint pipelines together.
  • Flexible business schema — All companies on the network have their own ways of organizing their internal systems and ways of interacting with the market.  Ecosystem Cloud solutions have the built-in flexibility to accommodate different data models and configuration tables for each company in the network to allow for every company’s unique way of defining their building blocks of business, like industries, regions, market units, organization structures, etc.
  • Configurable business policies — similarly, each company in the network may have different ways of defining their business processes, data views, metrics, derived fields, values, etc.  

PRMs are not organized to enable Ecosystem Cloud. Each PRM is set-up by the host company and is customized for the host company. Your partners cannot set up their own business schema, set up their own SSO and access policies, set up their own CRM integrations, and hold their opportunities private from you.

Preparing Now

There is a massive opportunity ahead for organizations able to embrace this modern architecture leveraging the Ecosystem Cloud platform.  McKinsey estimates that digital ecosystems will account for upwards of $60 trillion of revenue by 2025 — more than 30 percent of all global corporate revenues.  

And at the same time, IDC declares:

“Partners that adopt an ecosystem business model will grow 50% faster than partners which do not.”   

IDC, January 2019

Forward-thinking organizations are preparing now by defining and implementing a vigorous ecosystem strategy that includes a modern partnering architecture with Ecosystem Cloud.

7 Unexpected Industries Where Business Ecosystems are Driving Value

7 Unexpected Industries Where Business Ecosystems are Driving Value

Business Ecosystems have taken B2B industries by fire. But, SaaS companies and software companies aren’t the only industries leveraging ecosystems and disrupting their markets. Nearly every market is seeing significant disruption, first by digital transformation, and now by the growth in ecosystems. According to recent research from Accenture,

More than 40 percent of companies across 20 industries—accounting for a combined enterprise value of $26 trillion—are highly susceptible to future disruption.

For those business leaders who are ready to seize on it, massive opportunities and revenue are available for the taking. Here are seven surprising industries where ecosystems are shaking up the market.

MedTech: Microsoft, and Walgreens 

The business side of the medical industry has historically been slow to innovate. However, digital transformation has accelerated the pace of new technology and propelled massive growth in the medical technology (MedTech) sector. Healthcare organizations are forging exciting partnerships with technology companies to provide the solutions patients are looking for.

Recently, Microsoft and Walgreens Boots Alliance formed a strategic partnership to “develop new health care delivery models, technology and retail innovations to advance and improve the future of healthcare.”

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expand your business ecosystem

3 Steps to Boost Market Expansion with Business Ecosystems

Everyone is talking about ecosystems—including those in the boardroom. Ecosystems have become a key strategy for businesses looking to stay relevant through ongoing marketplace disruption and drive growth and innovation. 

In fact, according to an Accenture survey of C-level professionals, 76% of business leaders agree current business models will be unrecognizable in five years—and ecosystems will be the main change agent. 

And these business leaders aren’t wasting time—84% of those surveyed said ecosystems were important to their strategy of disruption & 52% say industry innovation is a great threat from competitors forming ecosystems.

Accenture Study on the rise of ecosystems

Doing nothing is costly—in future years, 30% to 70% of revenue is predicted to flow through ecosystems, and without a strategy in place to leverage partner relationships, businesses will find themselves missing out on significant revenue.

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strategic alliance definition

Strategic Alliance: What is it, Types, Benefits & Why You Need it.

Alliances and partnerships are a key staple in business strategies for organizations large and small. But while many partnerships begin with big visions and aspirations, not all alliances turn out to be strategic. 

In the last few months, I have seen various new alliances being formed among top companies of the world.

But, what is a strategic alliance, what are the types of strategic alliances, how can they be a boon—or a burden—to your company, and why are they now mandatory for success in today’s marketplace?

Let’s dive into it. 

Three Different Types of Strategic Alliances 

Alliances are business relationships. They’re about who you know in business, and like a personal network, they supplement your capabilities and weaknesses with strengths. Each alliance is a joint venture where two or more entities work together to achieve a shared goal while remaining separate and independent.

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Create A product first!

Create a product first please!