Alliance partners are two or more organizations that agree to work together through shared resources, expertise or market access. The terms of the alliance partner agreement will vary depending on what each partner brings to the table. In almost every case, an alliance partnership is established to gain a competitive advantage in a particular market or industry. Alliance partners blend complementary resources, expertise, services and/or products to deliver better outcomes to a common customer.
Alliance enablement is the set of strategies and processes through which an alliance partnership comes to life. An alliance partnership needs fuel to grow in importance and strategic value. Alliance enablement efforts aim to provide this fuel by building and executing on alliance partner go-to-market strategies that drive revenue growth and deliver business outcomes for each partner.
Where do I start in alliance partnerships?
Alliance Partnerships Start With 1 Question: Who Are Those Guys?
An alliance partnership is a strategic agreement between two or more organizations that agree to work together through shared resources, expertise or market access. Terms of the agreement will vary depending on what each partner brings to the table. In almost every case, an alliance partnership is established to gain a competitive advantage in a particular market or industry.
But where do you start with alliance partnerships?
Technology Alliances Are Evolving
TBR has been evaluating the changing nature of technology alliances through its subscription and commissioned research for decades. A series of best practices have emerged, most often developed by young technology companies, while the commercial impediments seem more acute for legacy vendors with their employees’ resistance to change. Additionally, we look at the successful approaches vendors have shared with TBR, and what end customers and small technology companies have shared with us as the anachronisms associated with legacy partner program structures.
Why does my business need alliance partners?
Enterprises have complex and diverse technology and business needs, and these needs evolve rapidly. No single technology vendor or services provider possesses the industry expertise, experience, resources, or breadth and depth of products and services to address all these needs. Alliance partners fill gaps in companies’ expertise and capabilities and allow them to deliver the solutions and outcomes that customers require.
Alliance partners are also an effective lever for vendors to use to solidify value propositions and pursue strategic objectives. For example, a professional services company that has deep strengths in the manufacturing industry but wants to become the industry’s go-to partner for AI in manufacturing could establish alliance partner relationships with leading AI technology vendors that are used by manufacturing companies to springboard pursuit of this strategic objective.
Assessing Vendor Partnerships
TBR interviews with leaders of small SaaS vendors have shown a consistent blueprint for successful engagement with big vendors that consists of three major elements: Are you a strategic fit with the large vendor? How do you approach the large vendor for top-down attention within the firm? And how do you initially engage the large organization for positive, bottom-up, word-of-mouth marketing inside the large vendor?
The GSI Alliance Journey
While TBR research and services are often used for competitive intelligence and market intelligence, an equally active and fast-growing use case for our research is ecosystem intelligence — understanding the performance and strategies of current and/or prospective partners.
One partnership area where this is particularly true is among global systems integrator (GSI) alliances. GSIs are a critical centrifuge in enterprises’ ongoing digitization and technology optimization efforts, providing the industry-centric business outcomes layer for those programs. Large and established software, cloud and infrastructure players are aiming to build and scale their existing GSI partnerships to create competitive advantage at those accounts, while growth-stage technology companies are aiming to build GSI awareness and forge initial relationships in their efforts to scale up to serve enterprises.
On-demand Webinar: Benchmarking alliance performance through objective data metrics
Part of the ASAP Webinar Series and hosted by TBR partner ASAP, discussion points for this webinar include:
- Objective data each type of ecosystem participant — platform vendor, hyperscaler, systems integrator, large enterprise software vendor and small independent software vendor — should benchmark
- Objective data metrics emerging to monitor ecosystem performance
- How these measurements, in the form of contractual commitments, need to be simplified to suit the ecosystem rather than the participant’s operating model
How TBR can help you partner better
Building a strategic alliance program and forming alliance partnerships includes the following steps:
- Determine your alliance partner goals
- Build mindshare in your target alliance partner ecosystem or community
- Establish an alliance partner strategy
- Build a foundation for alliance partnerships through proof-of-concept engagements
- Optimize and refine your alliance partner strategy to grow, scale and win
Data, research and insights are critical to each step in this process. As the saying goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” and thus any efforts at an alliance partner strategy that do not include rigorous partner and peer analysis are destined to fall victim to organizational politics and opinions, and ultimately fail to reach their potential.
This is where TBR can help. We have decades of experience in supporting technology vendor alliance partner strategy across the life cycle, including with the following services:
- Deep-dive vendor reports on the financial performance and business strategies of your current and target alliance partners
- Competitive benchmarking of peers’ alliance strategies and structures as well as peers’ alliance partner relationships with specific current or target alliance partners
- Financial modeling of competitors’ overall, geographic, vertical and/or business line revenue as well as headcount generated with specific named alliance partners
- Alliance partner screening and scanning to identify best-fit alliance partner targets in a given geography, vertical and/or business line
- Alliance enablement content to message the value proposition of your business as an alliance partner to your target alliance partner audience
With many people who work with our Global System Integrator partners, they will not read detail financials, but they need to understand what the priorities and strategies are, so what is important to our GSI partners. TBR allows our Alliance Marketing team to continuously deliver insights that our sales teams use to improve relationships and achieve revenue quotas.