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As in life, the only constant in managing ecosystems is change.
A company’s needs change as it grows and matures. Market patterns shift and evolve.
A successful ecosystem is one that adapts in the face of rapid change. And while adaptation can mean different things to different organizations, it’s something every ecosystem reckons with on a regular basis.
Holly Whalen is director of the Global Strategic Partner Program at UIPath, which, for anyone familiar with UIPath, has experienced incredible growth in the past few years.
Holly joined us on the #EcosystemAces Podcast and shared insights learned from her experience managing an alliance ecosystem through this growth in a constantly shifting market landscape.
In alliance ecosystems, sometimes less is more.
At an organization in the midst of a tremendous growth pattern, the goal is always to balance managing that growth with managing the increasing costs associated with it, including its partner ecosystem.
At UIPath, Holly tackled this challenge by paring down the number of partners in the ecosystem, targeting certain preferential qualities over an initial quantity of partners.
In fact, Holly trimmed the number of strategic alliances from 1,200 down to under 40.
The reasons behind this are simple. There is a cost involved in enabling those partners and ensuring customer delivery is highly successful.
So the decision was made to scale back partnerships to be able to invest more in the partnerships that best help the company achieve the key performance indicators it strives to meet.
Adapting is easier with the right alignment.
While an ecosystem needs to accommodate an organization’s evolving needs, it also needs to adapt to the environmental pressures exerted upon it.
Tectonic shifts have shaken up go-to-market patterns over the last half-decade across several marketplaces, including the automation and transformation sector in which UIPath operates.
Holly’s approach involved focusing on where the company was in terms of its maturity and aligning with a partner community and ecosystem that was best suited to elevate it to its next market.
Once the ecosystem was scaled back to the most optimally aligned partners, this allowed mutual enablement between UIPath and its partners.
UIPath made sure its partners had the newest and best information at all times. While its partners even helped develop the very training programs it provides to them, leveraging the partners’ closeness to the customer.
Of course, maintaining such closeness between partners is much easier with 40 partners rather than 1,200.
Managing ecosystems demands a wide range of talents.
While markets are constantly changing, they are also getting more complex.
A robust background of varied experience is required to keep the moving parts of a successful ecosystem well-oiled.
In the current landscape, managing a successful partner ecosystem necessitates a thorough understanding of selling and direct selling. And, of course, the only way to understand their value proposition and differentiation is a thorough understanding of the products themselves.
On top of that, strong business acumen is needed to know how to drive ROI with the customer community and recognizing where the company is on the maturation curve.
In the end, this wide-ranging knowledge adds up to being better able to locate the incremental value the ecosystem can provide and capitalize on it.