Collaboration between partners key to survival in IT channel

The partner ecosystem is a rapidly evolving place, with a host of new players and business models now in play. Increasingly, this is leading to a new type of channel relationship: partners collaborating with other partners on customer opportunities.

Even a few years ago it would seem doubtful that a partner would work with a rival on a deal. But it seems there is a growing acceptance that one partner alone is unlikely to be able to fulfil everything on their customer’s checklist. They need help from another partner from within the ecosystem that has their own ‘very particular set of skills’.

This, too, was one of the key messages coming from last week’s Channel Partners Europe event in London. IBM’s ecosystem leader in EMEA, David Stokes, said the challenges facing customers are now so complex, the only channel model that can exist is a multilateral network of partners working together.

“We all know that coopetition is one of the key models for our businesses: one day competing, the other day working together.”

This was a view echoed by IDC’s Stuart Wilson, who said that some advanced partners are now so focused on services, and on developing and creating their own intellectual property (IP), they are abandoning the resale model altogether.

“If that’s going through someone else, they actually don’t care,” said Stuart. “We’re seeing the transaction chain [becoming] almost separate from the services chain.”

This is leading to more partners working with one another to fulfil the customer’s requirements.

“Sometimes a solution for a customer can involve three or four partners working together to provide different things to that customer,” said Stuart. “So being a partner is about being much more open to how you’re going to work with our partners, how you’re going to collaborate. [Also], how you’re going to respond to these changing customer needs.”

It’s interesting to see individual partners identifying which piece of the jigsaw they are when it comes to delivering an entire, complex solution for their customers. It obviously requires all parties to be on the same page, and transparency and communication will be a must, one would think.

Are you already embracing this model? Are you working with in coopetition with any other partners? We’d love to hear from you.


The case for trust

Elsewhere, on the topic of partnering this week, channel expert Theresa Caragol spoke about the need for vendors to build long-term value with partners that can be passed along to their customers. This, she said, is especially true for complex technology solutions where partners are the ‘last mile’ trusted advisors to the customer.

Theresa cited a survey by The Economist, which asked business executives to select the essential qualities that build trust in partnerships. These include characteristics such as transparency, integrity, consistency accountability, competency and collaboration.

Check out the full post, and Theresa’s take on building trusted influencer ecosystems.

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