I’m a big fan of strategic alliances, and not just because I’m responsible for Schneider Electric’s alliances with key partners including IBM, Cisco and Microsoft. The reason is simple: with resources, time and money at a premium, I see strategic alliances as a way to achieve mutual goals faster, at lower cost and with less risk as compared to going it alone. All of this translates into better value for customers.
In this post, I want to share my thoughts on why strategic partnerships can help you save time and money, while lowering your risk.
1. Faster sourcing of resources. When any company undertakes a technology project, they need to find the resources to accomplish the project goals. Those resources include people who are experienced with the technology, hardware and software involved in the solution, and facilities and infrastructure to test the solution in an environment which mimics what end users will experience. All of those resources can be hard to come by, particularly the people – nobody has free headcount – and perhaps the facilities, especially for smaller companies that don’t have dedicated data center space for test and development. You can fill all of those gaps by finding a strategic partner that has its own team and can offer an end-to-end solution that has been verified to meet your needs.
2. One-stop shopping. As noted above, technology projects require you to evaluate and purchase some amount of hardware and software. Often, that means dealing with many different companies, or different business units within the same company. These piece parts then need to be successfully integrated to ensure the solution meets your requirements.
You can hire a technology partner to do the sourcing and integration work for you. Think of the partner like a general contractor building a house. The GC goes and finds all the plumbers, electricians, carpenters and so forth, not the homeowner. It’s a valuable service, since most homeowners don’t have the time or experience required to ensure they hire the best people and that they’re doing quality work. Similarly, a technology partner has expertise that most IT shops don’t. They’ve done the same jobs many times, and know how all the parts integrate to provide value. For the customer, this lowers the risk that something will go wrong and the project will fail to deliver full value.
3. Faster time to value. Strategic partnerships add up to faster project execution, which means the customer starts to receive the expected value from the project much more quickly than it would have by working with the vendors individually. This leads to benefits such as increased productivity, competitive advantage, more revenue, perhaps increased share price for shareholders or investors.
4. Playing in the big leagues. For smaller companies, partnering provides a way to take advantage of the same technologies that their larger competitors are using. While an SMB can’t outspend an industry giant, partnering provides a way to make a relatively small investment but still get quality technology, while transferring some of the risk to the partner.
I’ve seen first-hand how Schneider Electric’s strategic partners such as IBM deliver added value. IBM’s solution engineers bring to bear expertise built up over literally hundreds of projects involving Schneider products. As a result, the projects get done faster and customers can start reaping the benefits sooner rather than later. Strategic partnerships are indeed a beautiful thing.