According to the analysis by BCG, 83% of digital ecosystems involve partners from more than three industries and 53% from more than five industries. Companies are increasingly investing in ecosystem programs, to build joint solutions that leverage expertise and components from multiple partners. This enables them to build a unique competitive edge, tap into new markets and scale at a much faster pace.
This new reality can be challenging for incumbent players who grow their business the traditional way – developing technologies in-house or buying companies or fostering only bilateral partnerships. Companies must adopt modern ecosystem strategies to compete, innovate and maximize the value from these partnerships.
Let’s go over 3 such strategies and reasons why you must consider an ecosystem cloud platform vs. legacy partner management systems:
- The importance of building and fostering diverse ecosystem models
- Why partner engagement is essential, and techniques to accelerate this engagement
- How to effectively measure and demonstrate the business value from your ecosystem
1. Activate Diverse Ecosystem Models
Partnership models are evolving with the advent of ecosystems. Lines are blurring across partner types, and partners cannot be simply typecast into specific tiers or partnering motions.
As an example – A Software Vendor (ISV) partners with a System Integrator (SI) to develop an Intelligent Supply Chain solution for Retail industry. When the solution is ready to launch, they enable and leverage their channel partners to market and sell these offerings into specific regions.
Channel partners create value-added complementary solutions for these regional customers and invite ISV and SI partners to accelerate the sales motions. This ecosystem now has multiple types of partners (ISV, SI, and Channel), each bringing their unique expertise to build joint offerings, increase demand via joint marketing activities and engage in joint sales motions.
Legacy Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solutions are not suited to serve the needs of ecosystem models. These PRM solutions require you to sign into each partner’s portal, follow the traditional motions of the solution and deal registration, and give you a siloed view of each partnership. There is no mechanism to engage with other partners and foster N-Way partnerships.
The path to activating diverse business models:
- Gain a competitive edge with N-Way partnerships across all your partnering activities: Build-With, Market-With, Sell-With
- Co-innovate with multiple partners to develop holistic offerings for the end customer.
- Share MDF funds with partners of your partner to expand the marketing reach.
- Accelerate your win rates by driving collaboration across co-sell partners and sell-through partners, on a single sales opportunity.
- Scale your ecosystem rapidly, with advanced partner enablement features such as configurable workflows, tailored solution assessments and playbooks that align the sales motions across your company and the partner.
- Allow discovery of partners in the ecosystem, and facilitate intelligent connections based on common target markets and complementary solutions and expertise.
Ultimately in this connected world, your company will be engaged in many such partner ecosystems. On the WorkSpan Ecosystem Cloud, you can build your own partner program or participate in other companies’ programs. WorkSpan brings visibility across all these partner programs, to deliver more success from your partnerships.
2. Accelerate Partner Engagement
As a partner manager, you act as an orchestrator to define the strategy and drive engagement between your internal organizations and your partners.
But in that endeavor, you might face some roadblocks and lack of participation from partners. Partners are not armed with the right information at the right time, resulting in delays and frustration. This has a direct impact on the outcomes in these joint engagements.
How do you eliminate these roadblocks, and accelerate engagement:
- In-context communications and sharing of assets, that provide a single view of the engagement to all participating partners.
- Timely and transparent updates to partners, such as a change to an alliance-nominated opportunity stage in your CRM.
- Provide visibility to the field teams within your organization and your partner’s organization.
By definition, in an ecosystem, B2B organizations engage with multiple partners and further down – partners engage with their field organizations. It becomes a difficult task for each organization to drive engagement across hundreds of such partners globally.
WorkSpan Ecosystem Cloud is a shared system for you and your partners. As an ecosystem orchestrator, you can invite your partners and share your progress and activities. Activity logs notify you and your partners of updates in real time, remind you of upcoming tasks and milestones, triggering timely actions across organizations to deliver success on the joint engagement.
3. Demonstrate Your Ecosystem Value
Digital ecosystems collaborate in ways that are fundamentally different from past collaboration models. The ecosystem model requires a dynamic and systematic framework that can measure the success of each partnership and hold them accountable.
With the current PRM solutions, it is a manual and cumbersome process to submit data into and pull reports from each of the partner portals and get a consolidated view of the results across all partners.
What is the right way to measure and evaluate ecosystem partnerships:
- Create a joint business plan with shared objectives and goals.
- Consider both performance metrics and partner engagement metrics e.g. did the partner assign resources, build a PoC, conduct meetings with your field teams.
- Build a framework to consistently and frequently measure each partnership across the above dimensions.
This is where WorkSpan ecosystem cloud steps in and steps up the playing field. We empower organizations with a collaborative system that provides real-time metrics for the shared partnership goals, and a built-in business intelligence layer to standardize performance reporting across partners.
To sum up
Forward-looking companies have to embrace the ecosystem cloud model to stay competitive and innovative. BCG recommends that “A better approach is to actively participate in shaping the new landscape. To this end, many leading companies are building their own collaborative networks and/or joining existing ones.”
The practices and insights described above provide a starting point for B2B organizations. Your partner management solution should empower your alliance teams to build and activate diverse ecosystem models, drive engagement across partners and field teams, and provide a consistent framework to measure the success of each partnership. And if it doesn’t, it’s time to move towards an ecosystem cloud solution that does.
- Date - April 25, 2019
About the author
Nithya is passionate about designing and delivering innovative technology products. Prior to WorkSpan, Nithya incubated and led a strategic innovation team at NetSuite to deliver pre-packaged solutions. She was a product management and engineering leader for software products at Oracle. She holds a M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech and B.E. in Chemical Engineering from BITS, India.