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?