Alliances Require Empathy, Strategy, and Patience


Last Updated on January 30, 2019

Alliances are chess matches. They are dynamic, multi-faceted, and change rapidly. An SAP alliance partner like Fujitsu Global understands this. Who better to give advice on alliances than their SAP Sr. Alliance Director for EMEIA, Andreas Hoehnen?

Andreas speaks four languages, he’s an avid cyclist, and he simply loves challenges. He’s helped develop SAP alliances both from within SAP and from inside SAP partner organizations, such as Wipro, Landis + Gyr, and now, Fujitsu.

We spoke with Andreas at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando to hear his thoughts on how alliances are built and maintained. His insight was invaluable.

Fujitsu: SAP’s first global tech partner

Fujitsu was SAP’s first global technology partner back in 1999. Andreas knows, because he was the Business Development Manager for Technology Partners at SAP that year. Further, they were one of the first to invest heavily in SAP Hana. That long-standing experience has been a key reason the alliance is considered such an asset.

Traditionally, Fujitsu’s expertise lies in Japanese algorithms, and this can provide a challenge at times, combining with SAP. A few key areas Andreas says the partnership is evolving into include:

  1. Potential for Fujitsu to partner with SAP in S/4HANA. Many other companies are trying to occupy this same space, to establish business through migration from SAP ECC to S/4HANA.
  2. Further down the road: Machine learning and AI.
  3. Manufacturing is the 3rd big area of joint interests between SAP and Fujitsu.

3 keys to leading alliances

With all these opportunities, sometimes, Andreas said, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. It’s important to hone your resources and energies on key developments.

Andreas gave three keys for alliance leaders:

  1. Define a sustainable, win-win relationship between two partners. If it’s a one-off or a one-sided interest, the project will not be sustainable
  2. Leverage your customer installed base with your bread-and-butter products as well as with new solutions.
  3. Deliver. In the technology industry, there are far too many promises made and far too many commitments kept.

The importance of trust

Trust — It comes in drips, and leaves in buckets. There is nothing more valuable than a loyal customer. It takes an immense amount of time, money, and resources in gaining a customer back if trust is broken.

Sometimes, gaining trust means admitting you cannot do something. You can’t do everything, and a customer will recognize this.

Empathy in alliances

Alliances combine different individuals from varying organizations who have no clue about each other or their experiences. With no background, no prior relationship, neither party has context on how a statement or proposition will be received. You really have to put yourself in the other’s shoes.

This is why Andreas speaks so many different languages. Living in Central Europe, this is priceless. He is able to connect on a sincere level with a variety of colleagues. Andreas uses this empathy from a high-level context all the way through to how he conducts meetings.

In each meeting, Andreas said he considers the other individual, and how his words could make them react.

Final thoughts to other alliance leaders

We always ask our guests if they one final piece of advice to alliance professionals. Andreas had a powerful, succinct message:

“Alliances are not won in a single day.”

Andreas took a lesson from his cycling background: In his words, to view an alliance as a multi-stage race. You need to take risks, and you may need to sprint sometimes. But, at the same time, you have to truly consider what you are doing and who it will affect the others involved.

This post is based on a Alliance Aces podcast with Andreas Hoehnen. To hear this episode, and many more like it, listen and subscribe to the Alliance Aces Podcast, or visit our dedicated Alliance Aces page.

This episode is part of the Alliance Aces Roadshow. Watch the video interview with Andreas Hoehnen here.

To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about alliances, he can be reached by:

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