The evolving nature of IT partnerships

October 14, 2009
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I have recently re-joined the corporate world, after taking a few years to pursue a sea change, which is a whole other story. But in rejoining the IT world, I notice how far the partnering models have come.

Partnerships in our industry have traditionally been opportunistic. Company A has a gap in their product offering, so they go to company B to fill it. In this clearcut model there are distinct boundaries around who owns what and the selling agreements are well defined which made it easy for the partnership to be formed and ended.

Today companies are forming ecosystems, communities of vendors, customers, developers and industry bodies. This partnering model is active, rather than the traditional passive approach, with the stakeholders working together to develop new intellectual property and complete offerings. With customers and industry bodies now actively involved, the traditional boundaries of vendor and customer are blurring and bringing an industry focus to the deliverables. This approach, while potentially having bigger benefits to those involved, isn’t easy and takes significant investment and commitment.

So why has the new model developed and what are the



I have recently re-joined the corporate world, after taking a few years to pursue a sea change, which is a whole other story. But in rejoining the IT world, I notice how far the partnering models have come.

Partnerships in our industry have traditionally been opportunistic. Company A has a gap in their product offering, so they go to company B to fill it. In this clearcut model there are distinct boundaries around who owns what and the selling agreements are well defined which made it easy for the partnership to be formed and ended.

Today companies are forming ecosystems, communities of vendors, customers, developers and industry bodies. This partnering model is active, rather than the traditional passive approach, with the stakeholders working together to develop new intellectual property and complete offerings. With customers and industry bodies now actively involved, the traditional boundaries of vendor and customer are blurring and bringing an industry focus to the deliverables. This approach, while potentially having bigger benefits to those involved, isn’t easy and takes significant investment and commitment.

So why has the new model developed and what are the benefits of an ecosystem approach?

I think there are 3 key benefits.

  1. Reducing the complexity of offerings. The whole solution stacks, containing best-of-breed components, can be pre-integrated and pre-tested, greatly reducing implementation times.
  2. It is a more complete solution that meets specific industry or customer requirements.
  3. This creates innovation or co-innovation. Through the nature of the ecosystem new developments are created that answer specific industry or customer problems giving our customers distinct competitive advantages.

How does an ecosystem start?

Initially, one or two vendors who have a shared set of technologies or services begin the partnerships, then other vendors, developers, customers and industry bodies begin to join. The system becomes self managing and involvement from customers and developers will grow. Co-innovation means that the participants will want clear definitions around ownership of IP and the more flexible the IP model is, the more attractive an ecosystem will be to the participants.

In my new role at Teradata I will be working closely with SAP. They are a company that have invested heavily in the ecosystem model, and we are now investing in that model together. I am looking forward to experiencing this model firsthand – I hope it lives up to my expectations!

What experiences have you had with this new ecosystem model?

 

Tracy Gumm
Regional Program Manager
http://www.linkedin.com/in/tracygumm