Ease of Doing Business Trumps Everything Else in Partnerships

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Last Updated on May 23, 2022

Successful ecosystems are built with a purpose of solving real world problems, value creation, and sharing of wealth. 

An ecosystem is a network of organizations and individuals that co-evolve their capabilities and roles and align their investments to create additional value and improve efficiency. An organization’s success partly depends on how effectively it takes advantage of each partner’s complementary capabilities, resources, and knowledge of the network of firms, institutions, and individuals around it. 

Yet, the most important attribute to make these ecosystems succeed often goes unnoticed. In an IDC survey, 91% of the partners rated “ease of doing business” as the topmost attribute when considering partnering, even rating it above “market/ customer demand”, at 80%.

We have to understand the reasons behind why “ease of doing business” is such a big factor in making ecosystems work. Let’s try and unravel those possible reasons.

Your partners are not just your partners

According to the Gartner Technology and Service Provider 2025 Survey, 46% of partners that participate in any ecosystem also participate in another partner’s ecosystem and another 46% of the partners have created their own ecosystem. For these partners, a multitude of tools, systems, processes, and workflows adds to the complexity, needing to follow those processes and additional costs for hiring resources to manage partnerships. These all add friction and result in barriers to the success of an ecosystem.

Watch Jose Van Dijk, Vice President, Operations and Partner Performance, Global Partner Organization (GPO) and Cisco as she shares Cisco’s journey reducing from hundreds of different tools to manage partner ecosystems to now just a few.

Most ecosystem leaders are realizing this reality and working towards cutting the number of systems and tools to manage their partnerships. Most see investing in existing ecosystem networks where their current partners already operate. A major part of this investment in ecosystem networks is funded by shutting down old and redundant tools and systems that were adding to operational complexities.

It’s the network platform that WorkSpan has, the fact that when we looked at our over 100 alliance partners, more than half of them were already on WorkSpan and that’s what mattered to us.

Mary Sawyer, VP, Ecosystem Strategy and Management, Deloitte Tweet

Knowing your role in the ecosystem 

Some ecosystems evolve through serendipity and self-organization. In some ecosystems, hub companies play a major role by orchestrating ecosystem partners for not only value creation but also value capture. As ecosystems advance and become self-governing, they often don’t require orchestration by lead firms. In some instances, multiple orchestrators take center stage, in other cases partners themselves take initiative in making the ecosystem work. All this needs to be achieved while keeping partner experience in mind to keep the ecosystem intact and growing.

Watch Gavriella Schuster, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advocate Former CVP, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft as she talks about the need for orchestration in a healthy ecosystem and the importance of understanding your role as a “lead” or an “attach” to an activity within the ecosystem. 

The old thinking was all about gaining leverage and controlling the supply chain. Increasingly, however, value is created through networks where partners share data, code, and skills; where communities of businesses create value and antifragility together.

Ensuring frictionless partnerships through simplified operations by automating processes, facilitating shared workflows, helping partners engage to advance deals, exchange co-sell referrals, manage shared pipelines and book of business and track performance will go a long way in making your ecosystem a success.

Traditional tools are not the answer

Solutions like partner portals were optimized for reselling relationships, but have never been effective in managing partner ecosystems with ISVs, IHVs, GSIs, cloud, and other partners. Different teams within business functions like sales, marketing, business development and finance have to collaborate and share data, tasks and activities within and across partner organizations to make an ecosystem truly operate at scale.

Ecosystem Business Management Platforms end this counterproductive isolation. To learn more about these solutions and their capabilities click here.

Check out our Ecosystem Business Management Principles guide to learn more about the best practices in activating a winning ecosystem. 

Nitin Mathur
Senior Product Marketing Manager at WorkSpan. Ex IBM, Motorola and Philips. Writes about technology, business development and partner ecosystems.

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