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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 72

July 31, 2019

#72 Michael Thomas: Digital Evolution and Strategic Alliances

When you think about major tech giants such as IBM or Microsoft you probably think about the thousands of skilled employees it takes to run those companies.

However, can you imagine what type of talent it would take to form strategic alliances between those two behemoth companies?

Today’s guest on this episode of the Alliance Aces podcast, Mike Thomas, joins us in the Workspan Headquarters in Foster City to talk about just that.

Mike is the GM of Ecosystem Practice at Active Worldwide Inc.

Mike started Active Worldwide Inc. back in 2012 with the vision of helping people create alliances and ecosystems that would help create A-Z partnerships in a way that the market really needed. Their work helps with assessment, creation, programs, processes, tools, and execution.

In essence, Mike and his partners have a breadth of experience that helps their clients to get a lot of help in several key areas.

He and his two partners take pride in the “active” part of the name, as they are all passionately active in helping their clients to execute in their business development.

An Industry Icon’s Expertise

Mike has been an industry icon in the alliance management space over the span of a very rewarding career.

After starting in software sales, he moved to Cisco in 1996 where he began working on alliances, with hardware partnerships working with IBM.

After working with several industry giants he’s seen many trends come and go in the intersection of business and technology.

In particular, Mike notes the importance of the evolution of digital transformation and its effects on his company’s current work with alliances. In the past, he’d do a large global partnership 1-on-1. However, with the creation of the IoT, there are much larger integrations that have been both disruptive and creative in the industry in recent years.

Even for an industry vet like Mike, the newer, more complex partnerships take time and effort to navigate. One such example was when he was at GE Digital he led their Microsoft partnership. This included the cutting-edge vision for Industrial IoT, where large machinery such as jet airplanes, oil refineries, and other large industrial machines can use sensors that hold data and streamline their maintenance.

Evolving Tech

The digital evolution has caused companies to learn core and context, and has helped them start partnering to create better value propositions.

With all of the innovation around the IoT it can be difficult to know what’s coming next. Leaders like Mike can see ahead of the curve.

One of the best practices that he shares with our listeners is to choose the right executive sponsor.

After being blessed with really great corporate sponsors and partners he suggests choosing sponsors who have skin in the game.

He also advocates for executive sponsors in every region, so that they can be a point of escalation and help drive sales.

At WorkSpan we are really excited that Mike and ActiveWorldwide are a key alliance partner working together to create some amazing things in the days and months ahead. Please take a few minutes to hear what Mike has to say!

Listen to the podcast here.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Alliance Aces Podcast, or visit our dedicated Alliance Aces page.

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