Archive for the ‘Global Systems Integrator’ Tag

Measuring Alliances in ICT Systems Integration and Other Industries: How Easy?   16 comments

Update: this post has driven valuable discussion with many colleagues – thank you!
I have captured the main conclusion in a later post on qualitative alliance metrics focused on the quality of relationship.

My company is reviewing how we manage alliances as part of our region’s systems integration business.
This has given me a great opportunity: look hard at alliance metrics again, in the field, with very individual stakeholders looking personally after a business. 

At the same time, two recent ASAP events have discussed alliance metrics.

Both ASAP events describe alliance measurement as difficult, while my experience indicates measuring alliances is actually quite easy.

My experience focuses on a specific industry and business model: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) alliances between global systems integrators, platform partners and their ecosystem.
This focus may well make measuring easier than in broader contexts, still I believe simple guidelines such as those I propose below can make alliance measurement easy anywhere.

Let’s look at the two ASAP events, and their thesis:

Quintile’s webinar focused on managing the execution of an alliance’s joint strategy map:
First, draw a map of the alliance’s strategic objectives.
Then, define metrics based on the objectives, to track progress towards each.
Finally, as a governance committee, define and execute work streams that pursue these objectives, and so advance these metrics.
A steering committee will then manage strategy execution by assessing progress of the work streams through tracking of corresponding metrics.
This webinar focused on the process, deferring to specifics of each partner and alliance to identify strategic objectives and so metrics.

The Benelux round table, according to reports above, also highlighted how complex and specific defining alliance metrics is, and how complexity grows with the scope of the alliance, or portfolio of alliances. The consensus at the table was that each alliance needs its own metrics, depending on its own objectives.

The lesson of the two events is clear and consistent.

How may alliance measurement become easier?

I believe the choice of metrics is in fact easier than described above, and that choosing the right metrics makes easier both tracking them and measuring the alliance or portfolio.
To keep alliance measurement simple, I believe we can use two guidelines:

  • Base alliance metrics on each partner’s business metrics.
    Choose very few of them, among those business metrics that the alliance aims to impact most, such as sales, margins, innovation of solutions.
  • Tune each alliance metric to the specifics of each alliance, and keep it consistent with metrics for other alliances, by answering one simple question: how will we decide that any one contribution to a company’s business metric is associated to one specific alliance?
    For instance: how can we tell that a given alliance has indeed driven a given new sale? 

Following these two guidelines helps keeping alliance metric results consistent and comparable with the partners’ overall business results, and minimizes tracking effort. This in turn is especially relevant for ambitious, high impact alliances that aim – and claim – to influence a significant share of each partner’s business.  

The second guideline also helps meet a key requirement for an alliance’s success within each partner: that the alliance matches both partners’ cultures.
Each company has strong beliefs, powerful stories, about who wins business, and how. The more consistent we can make the rules measuring alliances with these stories, the more executives and field teams will be prepared to appreciate a contribution from a specific alliance, and so to embrace that alliance.  

What do you think can make measuring alliances easier, in ICT and other industries?

Update: three LinkedIn alliances discussion groups are providing valuable comments in addition to those below:

  1. Alliance & Channels / IT & Telecom – requires admission; members will find the discussion here
  2. Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals – also requiring admission; members find the discussion here
  3. Alliance & Channels Friends – an open group, the discussion is here

I look forward to taking stock of all these suggestions in a following post and in daily alliances practice.


When IT Consumerization Meets Cloud – Of Large Software Enterprises and Their Customers   Leave a comment

A great post at Pandodaily I meant to reblog here.

Aimed at Oracle, relevant for many or all large software enterprises and their enterprise customers.

Introducing Full Alliances Management in a New Team – Lessons I am Learning   Leave a comment

Over the last 6 months I have had the privilege of planning, then executing the introduction of new alliances management practices in a very special team in our organization.

This team has always been highly sensitive to alliances, both with large platform vendors and with smaller, sometimes niche, value-added solution providers. In fact, this team enjoys from its beginning a very special, defining relationship with one of the top global platform vendors – arguably our whole organization’s most important platform partner.
In addition to this, ever since this team was very small, quite a few years ago, many business developers in it have effectively achieved greater than life impact on the market by leveraging ISVs, both including their solutions in our offerings and leveraging their relations with our common clients.

Here are the special features of the new practices we have been introducing:

  1. Resale: we practice systematically value-added resale to our clients of solutions from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).  
    This helps strengthen and differentiate our own client propositions and those of our partners.
  2. Relationship: we manage systematically and communicate explicitly the value of our relationship with partners – to both our clients and our partners.
    This is about both joint pipeline, and combining the trust each of us establishes with our joint clients.

Introducing these new features has required evolving the established alliance practices and approaches in the existing team. As we have begun doing this, three lessons have emerged.

First, our solution sales teams have the key role in this initiative.

On one hand, it is their responsibility to assess the value of partner solutions across multiple clients and multiple opportunities and projects. By helping account teams to sell and deliver our offerings that include partner solutions, they determine what solutions from what partners give the best value for multiple clients, how do these solutions fit into our own offerings, and what investment to make in building capability on each partner solution. This in capability building, that solution sales teams manage, is by far the most significant investment a systems integrator can and need to do on a third-party solution. Wise partners rightly aim to get that investment as a key competitive positioning tool.
On the other hand, solution sales teams become more effective at carrying out this alliance responsibility, and reap better rewards in their sales success, as they evolve from opportunistic choices to more systematic ones, and come to focus more and more on solution definition and capability building, leaving economic negotiation and transaction to the account teams and alliance specialists. My key responsibility towards this team is helping solution sales leads complete this evolution, and taking up the resulting economic negotiation responsibility.

Second, global and local executives need to make a conscious decision that this new, active and systematic approach is indeed valuable – both for our clients and for our partners and us.

Historically, many sales teams and executives in our overall organization and in this particular team had regarded alliances management as a complexity driver to use only in selected cases, often opportunistically. Even more importantly, some sales teams used to regard resale of partner solutions, now one of the value and scale drivers of our approach, as conflicting with a systems integrator’s role in our clients’ eyes.
In retrospect, the executive decision to articulate and propose to our own clients the distinguishing, incremental value of offerings that leverage and combine uniquely value from ISVs and OEMs may well have been the single most important factor in our first successes and current evolution.

The third and last lesson, that we are still articulating and evolving, is about accepting existing practices to evolve them.

As this team has long maintained active alliance management practices, I have chosen to take them into account and leverage them as much as possible while introducing new standards. We have embraced these earlier practices fully in our first few applications as a way to understand them and help all stakeholders compare them with new practices and their benefits.

I strongly believe this has been essential for early successes and will be invaluable to evolve and consolidate our new, more structured and systematic alliance approach. Now we have a clearer and more practical picture of opportunities and ways to improve current alliance management practices and adopting new ones.

Last, this experience strengthens last month’s lesson learned: channel management and relationship management boost and support each other when we engage together, on the same opportunity or campaign, a large platform vendor and their ecosystem value added solution providers (ISVs and OEMs).

A large platform vendor tightly manages their resale channel, keeping resellers and systems integrators focused on separate value drivers to their end customer. For a global systems integrator like us, the focus of an alliance with a platform vendor is value-added joint go to market, essentially free from resale opportunity.

ISVs and OEMs, however, keenly leverage both joint go to market with the platform vendor and resale through systems integrators.

Our experience introducing full alliance management in this team has confirmed: as a systems integrator capable of sophisticated, multi-vendor, multi-way alliance management, when we engage platform partners and their ISVs and OEMs together, we can combine three components: resale margins from ISVs and OEMs, plus a joint go to market with them, plus a joint go to market with the platform partner. This in turns allows us to offer our clients – and our own solution sales teams – an even better value proposition than each kind of alliance would provide alone.

Three-way ICT Alliance Teaming – a Success Case   Leave a comment

In Italy, one of my organization’s largest businesses, we have introduced a three-way alliance teaming approach that combines strengths from different kinds of partners.

My organization is a global systems integrator. We have teamed with our key partner among platform vendors to engage ISVs in their ecosystem. We go to market together with each engaged ISV both on any one opportunity and on solution-specific campaigns.

Results so far (after 6 months pilot, + 6 month deployment):

  1. Dozens of net new leads generated for later joint qualification.
  2. Multiple leads qualified into opportunities, a few closed successfully.
    Each new deal closed so far has been in some way superior to average deals: either it was larger than average, or it positioned a new joint solution, or it engaged a new customer.
  3. Better solution-level teaming for the two major partners.
    Having ISV components in a solution makes much more tangible for the systems integrator and the platform vendor what are we actually teaming on, and what special value does our joint customer receive from this teaming compared with other possible teaming options.
  4. Clearer, stronger positioning of the ISV in the partner portfolio of the others.
    When we choose to partner three-way, this gives the ISV a special role with each of the other partners.
  5. Additional, ISV-specific value for each partner and our joint customer.
    Sometimes there is a specific element of value for our joint customer that the ISV is best positioned to give.
    Sometimes the platform vendor can help the ISV better than they could help the systems integrator.
  6. Better value for my organization as systems integrator.
    Some ISVs are better aware of the specific value of our organization as partner than platform vendors are, or better positioned to leverage that value. This makes them better at rewarding us and our clients.
    Also, many such ISVs have more proactive sales approaches than platform vendors and generate a higher share of teaming opportunities.

Key features of this approach include:

  • Choosing ISVs carefully, based on criteria that address the needs of this specific alliance.
    For instance, all three partners need understand the differential value the ISV solutions bring compared with platform vendor solutions and systems integrator offerings.
  • Empowering solution sales leads in the systems integrator and platform vendor teams.
    Solution sales leads own solution blueprints and solution sales campaigns. They have the key responsibility to select what ISV products work best in their solution blueprints, and assess how good a support ISVs offer. They are in the best place to choose what opportunities to share three-way.
  • Equipping solution sales leads with the best of all partners’ alliance management tools.
    The systems integrator’s culture and tools, geared for complex, peer-to-peer, multi platform solutions and alliances, are more suitable to the most complex deals; the platform vendor has  simpler, more concrete, one-way channel management methods that help all partners provide repeatable mutual support in simple cases.
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