Partner Ecosystems drive joint success.

Continued increases in solution complexity and comprehensive customer demands will increase the need for ‘co-llaboration’ between many ecosystem partners, vendors, and distributors. To deliver comprehensive customer outcomes, most solutions require the involvement of 4 to 6 partners on average*, in addition to distributors and vendors. The co-success of a partner ecosystem is driven by co-innovation, co-creation, co-marketing, co-selling, co-delivery, and co-customer satisfaction. Bringing all the partners, products, solutions, and services together to deliver customer outcomes will require orchestration.

A partner ecosystem is a collection of companies that collaborate or compete to achieve a common goal. This definition emphasizes that there is no clear distinction between competitors and collaborators. Everyone is working toward maximizing value for the customer by providing them with a seamless end-to-end solution that delivers the desired business outcomes. Partners should focus on their core competencies rather than having to reinvent the wheel at every customer touchpoint.

The objective of partner ecosystem cooperation is to make it easier for customers to purchase products and services from multiple vendors with a consolidated and streamlined shopping and procurement experiences. This requires orchestration by vendors, distributors, or partners. Because of their role in the supply chain, distributors are well-positioned to orchestrate solutions comprised of products and services from multiple vendors and partners.

In addition to orchestration, ecosystem success requires many forms of ‘co-llaboration’. Vendors are finding it difficult to meet the growing demand for complete, multi-technology solutions alone, and IDC predicts that by 2026, 25% of organizations’ new application portfolios will be consortia-developed within their ecosystem. This will be accomplished via “Collaborative Ecosystem Product Development” (CEPD), defined as partnering with several, sometimes competing, vendors to develop innovative, new solutions in a timely, cost-effective way. Gartner estimates that “the early majority will use CEPD within a 3- to 6-year period because of the widespread support by application software vendors.” This is a form of co-innovation.

Co-creation has some of the characteristics of co-innovation in which the participants focus on building an asset, such as an application. The partners typically look to commercialize their co-created intellectual property beyond the initial customer or customers, so the asset becomes a saleable product. Co-creation can also include services. This includes developing the offer and building the service. Next, the parties develop a business plan and pilot the service with customers to launch the new service into the market.

Partners can provide solutions, industry, and market expertise to drive the right customer outcomes via co-delivery. Vendors equip partners with technical training, industry best practices, and market insights that accelerate time to value for customers and improve customer success.

Co-marketing in an ecosystem needs to reflect the benefits of the cooperation between partners. The goal is to build awareness of co-created solutions within your target market. Marketing messaging should be consistent within the ecosystem and highlight the customer value obtained as a result of co-innovation and co-delivery. Vendors must develop co-marketing plans with business goals, joint messaging, and target audiences. Partners lead the operational engagement while vendors provide support and share data insights.

Co-customer satisfaction is the result of cooperation within the partner ecosystem. Beginning with the end in mind, joint success planning should occur with all relevant partners within the ecosystem. The plan should provide alignment on customer goals, objectives, and business outcomes. Roles and responsibilities should be agreed upon based on each partners’ strengths. These may include technical support, renewals, and upselling.

Partner ecosystem ‘co-llaboration’ maximizes customer satisfaction and enhances partner success. By working together and embracing coopetition, the ecosystem provides a force multiplier for customers and ecosystem members.

AchieveUnite is a partner performance company built by experts with extensive leadership experience in channel strategy, program development, partner ecosystems, go-to-market models, leading edge education and management coaching. We empower companies and individuals to create value-driven, lifetime partnerships and drive transformational business results through Partner LifeTime Value®. Reach out to us to learn more!