The Internet of Things (IoT) is upending partnering “best practices.” One practice is clear: no company succeeds alone. It takes an ecosystem.
This is partnering at a scale, scope, and speed unprecedented until now. It requires creativity and bold experimentation. Companies must learn quickly, iterate strategies, manage complexity, and try new models for value creation, delivery, and capture.
“We know how to partner. We’ve been doing it for 20 years.” These are deadly words when said about partnering for the Internet of Things. The fundamentals of partnering may still apply – or not – but businesses that until now have been relatively un-digitized are discovering tremendous opportunities to rethink their operations and economics. This necessitates partnering:
- Across industries and sectors
- With many more companies for any given industry solution
- At a greater speed to assemble and reassemble the right partners for each customer scenario
- With agility, shifting from orchestrator to participant, sometimes with the same customer
- In conjunction with “Everything as a Service” business models
Innovate and Experiment
Companies that succeed at building the partnering ecosystem required for the IoT take a page from design thinking: Start with the experience of the end customer and play that back to solution development. Those that succeed think similarly about the partner experience, making it easy to engage and drive down transaction costs. They do not lock onto any specific business or partnering model; rather they experiment and learn which of the assumptions you’ve made are valid and which are invalid and need to be iterated.
Instead of copying what competitors consider “best practices,” companies that remake their partnering capabilities for today’s connected world look for other inspiration. For example, Médicins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) assembles teams of medical and logistical professionals when conflict breaks out or there is an epidemic. The network has the ability to quickly assemble and then disband when the work is done because it knows what each partner considers valuable and works to ensure that value is received, thus maintaining willingness to participate and contribute value.
Companies throughout the ecosystem, regardless of their role or roles, must be willing to take some risks and fund experimentation to determine what is repeatable and scalable, both in the business and partnering models and in how partnering operations are carried out.
Connective Tissue or Achilles’ Heel
At the ASAP Global Summit in March keynote presenter Jonathan Ballon, Vice President of Intel’s Internet of Things (IoT) Group, made it very clear that IoT is a massive opportunity to create and realize tremendous economic value; transforming industries; changing products, services, and solutions, and disrupting business models. He also emphasized that partnering and alliances are the connective tissue required to realize this value. The SMART Partnering Alliance of The Rhythm of Business and Alliancesphere argues that success in the ecosystem partnering required by IoT is not happenstance – it takes careful design. If your company’s partnering capability is insufficient for the task, partnering might be your Achilles’ heel – the exposed and unprotected weak spot of your organization. Alliance professionals have a duty to provide their executives with a roadmap across the new partnering landscape.
Over the next few months, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts and white papers that explore what is different about partnering in the IoT - and how to apply design thinking – what we call Partner By Design to evolving partnering practices for the connected ecosystem era and everything as a service business models.
Missed the Summit Keynote? Read a Summary and Perspective on it from SMART Partnering, an alliance of The Rhythm of Business and Alliancesphere.