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Ecosystem Business Summit August 2023: Event Summary and Key Takeaways

Amit Sinha

Our latest Ecosystem Business Summit was a resounding success, showcasing insights from two esteemed partner leaders: Bronwyn Hastings, EVP of Google, and Zia Yusuf, VP of VMware.

For those who couldn't attend, we've compiled the crucial insights from both sessions for your convenience.

Dive into the key takeaways below…

Session 1: Bronwyn Hastings, Corporate Vice President, Ecosystems and Channels, Google

Bronwyn Hastings is currently the Corporate Vice President of Partnerships at Google.

Before Google Bronwyn also ran partnerships and business development at companies like Citrix and SAP.

In her Ecosystem Business Summit session, she sat down with WorkSpans President and Co-Founder Amit Sinha to discuss the key things that she is focussed on at Google Cloud in addition to offering some key insights into what it takes to create a successful partnership program.

#1 The Customer is the Center of any partnering motion

During her session, Bronwyn emphasized that any partner program's core focus should be on the end customer. Specifically, it's about how we can leverage partners to ensure customer success.

At Google, Bronwyn highlighted that a single Google customer often engages with up to seven different partners. Thus, the challenge for her team lies in orchestrating these partners to collaboratively provide a solution that maximizes the value the customer derives from Google's offerings.

To facilitate this collaboration, Google is continually devising new resources and tools. One notable initiative Bronwyn mentioned is the establishment of "Challenge Labs." These are platforms where partners can hone their proficiency with Google's product suite before engaging with end customers. The platform ensures partners are well-prepared, guaranteeing customers the best experience possible.

#2 Transparency of information is critical in any partner program 

At Google, they are equally focussed on the overall partner experience and want to know what they do to improve the lives of their partners.

She called out the pilot that Google has been running with WorkSpan to drive efficiencies in their ISV partner program and how it has enabled Google to track and measure the success, and flag areas where more help is needed.

#3 Co-selling is critical to achieve end-customer value

The final key takeaway from Bron's session is the importance of co-selling to any successful partnership motion.

She referred to three key things that drive this home.

  1. Co-selling breeds trust with the end customer

Bronwyn emphasized that co-selling marks the beginning of a customer's journey with you. 

By collaborating with a partner and demonstrating a commitment to shared success throughout the customer journey, trust is more likely to be established with the end customer.

  1. Co-selling brings together best-in-class domain knowledge

The second point that Bronwyn made was that when co-selling, you are able to bring to the customer deep domain knowledge on a number of things that are complex to the customer.

Having combined domain expertise helps again with end value creation.

  1. Co-sellng creates an open ecosystem that helps the end customer

The final point as it pertains to co-selling that Bronwyn made is that by being part of an open ecosystem, you are able to participate in a network of value that not only helps you grow your business, but also enables you to provide value to your end customers.

Session 2: Zia Yusuf, SVP, Ecosystem and Industry Solutions, VMware

Zia Yusuf, leads the Ecosystem strategy at VMware, prior to VMware, he held leadership roles at Boston Consulting Group and SAP.

During his EBS discussion with WorkSpan President Amit Sinha, Zia delved into the essentials of building a thriving partnership ecosystem. He also touched on the key personnel and skill sets vital to ensuring the success of a partnership strategy.

#1 Ecosystem offer organizations an incredible offensive and defensive capability

Zia's initial emphasis was on the dual power of ecosystem partner strategies when executed well; they can serve as both potent defensive and offensive tactics for an organization.

He underscored that an ecosystem isn't about forming isolated, individual partnerships. Instead, it resembles a spider's web of interconnected relationships, where the focus is on cumulative value creation for the end customers.

Distinct from one-off partnerships, ecosystems are more strategic. They demand foresight and a proactive approach to designing a system that maximizes value for end customers.

Zia mentioned that VMware has had to adapt to this intricate partnership mode, particularly when collaborating with their larger SI and hyperscaler partners.

#2 Diversity of thought and skillset is critical in being an effective ecosystem manager

Zia's second key insight emphasized the importance of the personnel responsible for designing an ecosystem strategy. For such a strategy to flourish, one must carefully consider who is at the helm.

He passionately discussed the value of diverse perspectives for these roles, stressing that a variety of skill sets enriches the crafting of the ecosystem strategy.

In conclusion, Zia highlighted that diversity spans multiple facets, including gender, ethnicity, functional background, and education.

#3 VMware is focused on what matters most to our partners

Another insight Zia shared revolved around a shift in VMware's approach to understanding their partners' needs.

Historically, VMware's focus was primarily on their own business growth, often overlooking the value delivered to their partners.

Zia has since championed a change in perspective, urging partner managers to delve deeper into their partners' priorities and their criteria for success.

By recalibrating this approach to prioritize mutual success between VMware and their partners, it nurtures honesty, transparency, and ultimately contributes to the thriving of the entire ecosystem.

#4 Hiring the right people is critical to ecosystem success

Zia's concluding insight emphasized the critical role of staffing in the growth of an ecosystem.

At VMware, Zia highlighted that many of their ecosystem leaders boast some of the highest seniority roles within the company.

He stressed that exceptional ecosystem managers should possess a strategic mindset, hold firm viewpoints, rally internal support effectively, and craft clear action plans prioritizing partner value.

Zia reiterated the paramount importance of recruiting individuals with the right skill set to ensure the success of an ecosystem strategy.

A big thank you to all of those who attended our Live Ecosystem Business Summit and to our speakers! 

The world of Ecosystem Partnerships is constantly evolving and we will continue to bring you the most recent strategies and updates in the industry.

Have Questions?

If you have questions or want to chat with us about ecosystems, partnerships, and co-selling, don't hesitate to reach out.

We’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for making EBS a success. We’ll see you at our next event!

About Amit Sinha

Amit is passionate about driving ecosystem growth through co-selling programs. He co-founded WorkSpan after experiencing firsthand the success of SAP HANA's ecosystem approach, which led to it becoming the fastest-growing SAP product to reach $1B in sales. He now oversees all Sales, Marketing, Services, Partnering, Customer Success, and Support teams at WorkSpan.

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