I have spent a lot of time these past few years trying to understand (and articulate) what defines a successful partnership in the IT world. It’s safe to say that I’m far from finished exploring this topic; however, I can say with certainty that a partnership can only be deemed “successful” by the customer if it accomplishes at least one of two things:

• Helps the customer take advantage of the benefits technology has to offer
• Improves the way a customer can do business

Said another way, they are “intelligent” partnerships.

(A point of clarification before I continue—there are many ways that companies and organizations can benefit from working together.  These include alliances, collaborations, formal partnerships, and other types of teaming arrangements.  To simplify our discussion here, I will use the term “partnering,” but I do not intend to refer to only formal, legal partnerships, as other forms of joint relationships certainly could apply.)

The method by which a partnership can produce results will vary. Supply chain partnerships should produce cost savings, better product or reduced time-to-delivery. R&D partnerships should promote innovation. Solution partnerships must address complex challenges (think “Intelligent Building”) and channel partnerships should allow for proper design, installation and delivery of a technology solution to a customer. There are a lot more examples; however, I think you get the idea.

This begs the question—can an IT organization evolve without some form of partnership strategy? I think no and here is why:

• Regardless of whether the strategy is stated or left in the wild, IT organizations live within the larger IT world. To evolve, we must all (somehow) fit together.
• Customers in the IT space always want to know how we communicate and integrate with technologies in our eco-system. Customers rarely accept systems that are inflexible and do not allow for creativity, especially with the rapid rate of change in the IT space.
• Even the most proprietary systems (that appear to stand alone) need a network of designers/installers to come to life. The method in which an organization works with this channel is, by definition, part of a partnership.

I believe there are massive opportunities for IT firms who get it right with their partnership strategy.

One of our goals at CommScope is to identify companies with which we can cultivate relationships that deliver these types of benefits. A wonderful example is our SYSTIMAX iPatch Intelligence Infrastructure Solution coupled with Cisco Systems’ EnergyWise Energy Management Architecture. In doing so, we strive to deliver true value to our customers and business partners. We look to enhance our current technology suite or enable our industry-leading business partner network to grow and deliver next generation solutions to our customers, as in our recent announcement with Redwood Systems.

Do you agree that it is critical for an IT firm to have a partnership strategy? I am curious—what IT partnerships do you believe are successful and why?

About the Author

Melanie A. Reid

Melanie A. Reid is a member of the Channel Organization within CommScope’s Enterprise Solutions division. Melanie has more than 10 years of telecommunications and marketing experience and currently manages CommScope’s Global Alliance Program. Melanie holds an MBA from Boise State University with an emphasis in High Technology Marketing.

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1 comment for "Intelligent Partnerships: A Discipline Hard To Master But Worth Its Weight in Gold"
Fredrik Östling

Hi Melanie, Thanks for taking up an interesting topic! I been working in the Intelligent Building world for many years now and I can tell you that the best and most profitable solutions I seen, are built on natural partnerships were all parties really share a common goal, which is to deliver added value to the end user - and by doing so, deliver added value to the client! All this is maybe stating the obvious, but in my world it isn't, as it almost never occurs. IT companies delivering solutions to a real-estate client normally deals with their IT department, as they feel comfortable talking the same language - which in turn means that they don't really get the full picture and do NOT fully understand their clients business, or the end user perspective! And even worse, most IT companies trying to enhance their value to real-estate clients, will go to another IT company to form partnerships, instead of searching far outside the box, where value added knowledge really lives. For example, I would state that IBM, SAP, Oracle and many others providing FMS and CRM systems to the real-estate market, for many years completely neglected to see the potential their system really have to the clients and their end users - otherwise I am sure they would have integrated data and functions which actually is of core value to those clients! The same goes for other kinds of IT and Networking outfits, if they took the time to really understand where value added knowledge lives, the development of truly Intelligent Buildings delivering more value for less cost, would increase faster than online storage capacity is needed on the net. But in all fairness, it is getting better, much thanks to outfits like Commscope, as you guys seems to understand the value of working in partnership with people outside your normal comfort zone. And in today's world, when technology and solutions change faster then ever, it is obvious that no single entity will win the war on its own. End to end this far to long comment, I will add one more thing - if you want to succeed with your IT solutions in the Intelligent Building, Construction and Real-Estate sector - please remember to make IT simple for "Normal" people to understand what you offer and they might have a chance to understand the value of IT! Kind Regards Fredrik Östling

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