In the past few years, there have been ongoing recommendations, documentaries and stories regarding organizations migrating their IT operations and infrastructure to the cloud. We’ve seen this reality take form within three key sectors; finance, sales, and human resources. As relevant to your business as those, new research shows the importance of a company’s Ecosystem to their current GTM strategy and long-term viability.

Accenture recently released a research study stating ecosystems will drive their future growth and assist in reducing the impact of ongoing market disruption.

(Image Source: Accenture)

As noticeable as these trends, leaders struggle with identifying the value within their own business on how to measure the impact of ecosystems and decide on the most impactful roadmap to success.

We at WorkSpan have identified five value indicators, and associated business outcomes, to empower and enable ecosystem cloud transformation.

1. Grow Revenue

You can grow revenue by incorporating the following strategies & guidelines for your business.

Proactively manage pipeline & engage partners

  • When companies want to grow revenue, actively managing the deal pipeline is crucial. As an ecosystem professional, it is critical that you know which partners are engaged and at what stage vs. a static pipeline view. When customers systemize this space, they can experience a 25% lift in revenue.

Drive deals in the region via real-time KPI’s

  • It is imperative to have real-time visibility into global and regional KPI’s when you want to have a complete picture of the deal flow. When I work with customers, we divide these regions into the Macro, Micro and Local level, making it easier to keep track of deals at each step of the way.

Increase deal size by incorporating partner offerings

  • With legacy software, ecosystem professionals lack the visibility and capability to enable partners to add layers to existing deals to increase the value. Your partners can add value to the deal by bringing in their contacts, product offerings, etc. that you might not have. It will make the deal more enticing for the end customer and increase its chances for success.

Grow dollars with pull-through and sell-with partner expansions

  • Instead of always being in a push mode, you can accelerate opportunities by leveraging your ecosystem.

2. Boost Market Expansion

The principal focus of every alliance relationship is new customer acquisition in new and existing markets.

Set tangible goals

  • Set tangible and trackable goals with your customers and your partners; get their buy-in and hold them accountable.

Collaborate with your partners to market to new customers and markets

  • Consider for example that your company is in North America and you want to expand to India, desiring to leverage the best practices from your launch in North America. Currently, most companies will use Outlook or Excel to share the best practices with the new audience; which is a slow and cumbersome process. Create a system that enables you to share it dynamically, accelerating your time to market 30%.

Co-create new solutions with partners to build capabilities & be more competitive

  • I worked with a fortune 500 company, and they were most concerned about being competitive in the market. They were able to leverage their partner network to create more solutions. You as an ecosystem professional, can do the same and be more competitive in your industry.

3. Accelerate Time to Market

In today’s hyper-competitive market, if you can reduce your time to market for new solutions, you can reap big rewards. Some of the best practices to accelerate your time to market are:

Reduce decision cycle time on nominated opportunities, activities, solutions

  • During my first meeting with my customers, an early question I ask them is: How long does it take you to take a solution to the market? And often I hear 90 to 180 days, and in today’s competitive world that can be detrimental to your business.
  • By using a collaborative platform, if you can push the information out to the field, get your partners on board, you will be able to accelerate your time to market. Our customers have seen a 20% – 50% reduction in time to market by using an ecosystem cloud platform.

Reduce alignment time

  • Companies using legacy systems do not have access to live dashboards and often use outdated old excel sheets to share information with their partners. By using an ecosystem cloud solution your partners can log in regularly, see what is happening in real time and be proactive.

Improve utilization of funds and resources

  • Consider a scenario; if your company’s quarter ends on Dec 31, 2019, you might be waiting for 3-4 weeks for the quarterly performance reports & updates. At this rate, you are starting four weeks late, and you might be putting funds into the wrong buckets vs. proactively assigning funds based on real-time data & track – push – hold people accountable.
  • By responding faster to the funding requests from the field, you can improve the utilization of your MDF funds, compared to the industry norm of 35% MDF funds going unutilized.

De-risk opportunities and forecasts

  • Traditionally, due to the lack of real-time visibility, it’s been challenging for ecosystem professionals to forecast with confidence. By improving the speed of information from the field, you can keep track of the deal flow and eliminate the risk of missed opportunities.

4. Assemble a Holistic Offering

Today’s customer has high expectations and expects each solution to be fully functional out of the box. E.g., if a customer is working with a real estate company, they expect eSign functionality to be embedded in the process. It becomes essential that you provide a holistic solution for your customers. Here are a few best practices that you can adhere to:

Solicit and package joint solutions

  • You should define a process and use a tool that enables you to be an industry innovator. By tapping into a common fast network for soliciting and packaging joint solutions and ideas, you can be first to market with creative solutions.

Test & Iterate, fast

  • Test innovative solutions with nominated opportunities and audiences, quick. Traditionally, it takes companies 3-6 months to test new solutions, but if you can reduce the test time, you will be able to launch multiple solutions and focus on the best solution.

Scale with customer-centric case studies and endorsement

  • Collect & track the data from all the solutions you test in the market. Then you can go back to the management and report that this quarter; you have tested ten different offerings and based on your data, these are the top three solutions.
  • Follow it up with your plan on how you will tweak, pivot and adjust your strategy, moving forward.

Engage your partner’s SME in GTM activities

  • If you can increase the size of your sales team, you can get your solutions in front of more customers. But hiring more people to your sales team can be expensive. But what if you could tap into your partner’s sales team and have more feet on the street.
  • You can share your GTM activities with your partner’s sales team and have another set of feet on the street to sell your co-solution.

 5. Develop Trust

Trust is at the core and center of every relationship. It varies from trusting a babysitter with your newborn to trusting an alliance partner to go to market with. Trust is not built overnight; it’s a process and takes time to establish and nurture. You can start building trust with your partners by:

Share opportunities early and information in real-time

  • Work with your partners early on in the pre-pipeline process, take in their feedback and ideas on new solutions. Make them feel like part of the team by valuing their point of view.

Provide transparency in the status of joint pipeline and joint solutions

  • Have one source of truth for all the data and hold yourself and your partner’s team accountable.

Be a reliable partner

  • The fastest way to lose trust is by missing deadlines and being unreliable. Be a reliable partner by over delivering on your engagements and tasks.

To Sum Up 

As you and your organization set out on the journey to empower Ecosystem Cloud, reflect on the five value indicators. As you reflect, identify and prioritize the business outcomes which will have the highest impact on your Ecosystem.

Leverage these outcomes as your True North, prioritizing and guiding the direction. As importantly, understand you’re not in this journey alone, we at WorkSpan would enjoy hearing from you, your unique story and helping you mature down the path of Ecosystem Cloud.

About the author

Mark Haubry

Mark is the General Manager Ecosystem Value at WorkSpan. A senior leader with expertise in Go-To-Market execution, business transformation, organizational design/effectiveness and project management. He provides a keen focus on award-winning pre and post-sale customer service while delivering innovative solutions to drive revenue, optimize productivity and increase financial returns.