Trailblazing next gen partnerships30 Sep 2019
Tech innovation has become the lifeblood of the new age. Crypto and blockchain, IOT and smart cities, AI and business intelligence; the smart tech revolution is growing up around us with attitude. We think It’s eventually going to change everything about the way we live and work at a societal level.
The markets insatiable appetite for smart tech; means that partnering in today’s increasingly inter-related eco-galaxy should certainly be one of the highest priorities for all service providers and customer-focused end users alike.
But this call to action throws up several unchartered challenges for procurement, SRM and pre-sales business functions everywhere.
Harnessing energy and passion
One of the keys to successful partnering (or acquiring) in this space is to compliment and nurture the partnership. Capturing that energy and subsuming it into an oil tanker of a company with all the slick (excuse the pun) handling of a mile long sea vessel, will more than likely stymy that wonderful energy and may instead lead to assimilation.
Yes SME innovators are often small or perhaps micro, may be easily manipulated and controlled (which we don’t advocate), but they are also nimble, adaptive, efficient, energetic and hungry – all valuable attributes. And they certainly bring with them the ingenuity and the we-can-do-anything mindset that drives the current tech tsunami.
Culture and enthusiasm
So how is coupling this youthful dynamism with bigger more traditional partners achieved?
After all, Investment in tech startups is bigger now than ever and increasing exponentially. There really is no limit to the application of next gen tech on a societal and transformational scale.
That’s why investment in this sector is at an all time high. That’s also why acquisitions of these innovators is also at an all time high, and in most cases the companies doing the buying are similarly minded and rather innovative of mindset in the first place.
Make no mistake, whether partnering or acquiring – harnessing and channeling that enthusiasm often requires a radical change of culture and a willingness to adopt new engagement practices.
There are several tech oligarchs that exemplify this shift in accommodating hospitality for geek brilliance. We need only look as far as Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft or Amazon at their culture, their support for incubation and scale-up strategy, in partnering with third parties honed at bringing them into the fold, whether in partnership, contract or buy-out. We can learn so much from them, after all they are shaping and supporting huge swathes of tech adoption in our every day business and personal lives.
Certainly SRM in any organisation, is capable of being so much more than performance management, KPIs and contract management. But outside of those tech giants whom live by breathing life into innovation, SRM and procurement stakeholder engagement strategy is still relatively speaking on the ground floor.
Many see procurement and SRM as being swim-laned into two different but well established and immovable disciplines. Procurement generally being the more binary pre-contract activity focused on purchase, competition, boiler plate efficiency and cost saving. Whilst SRM is more about in-life relationship, performance and risk management, and stakeholder engagement – life beyond contract award.
But something new is happening, and these functions and the organisations that they represent are still largely finding their way.
Let’s look again at those oligarchs. They’ve created teams and functions with a dedicated focus of nurturing innovative partnerships. Microsoft is perhaps one of the best examples. Of course they want to provide assistance to start-ups. The more business a SaaS startup does on their platform for example, the more data will ultimately be consumed in Azure – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
A shift change
In B2C the very nature of new tech and the way it’s sold, is largely based on sustainable modelling, or consumption, which is always customer focused. That’s not just about user functionality, it’s rooted in mindset – the vendors and the customers. Similarly in B2B this fast moving genre needs to partner with like minded and well suited complimentary service providers.
The circular shift
We’re now starting to see large and complex contracts, previously awarded to monolithic or prime integrators, being jointly awarded to partners in consortia. Partners will own assets. Assets (smart tech) will generate value and will drive services. Services will be provided across the consortium network and managed collaboratively by decentralised stakeholder optimisation platforms – such as Suppeco.
From local to national, corporate services have taken a very big leaf from the consumer playbook. Contracts are increasingly being awarded based on new and creative approaches to partnering, with more emphasis on consumption based service user-ship rather than asset ownership, so leveraging a new breed of ecosystem.
Those struggling to extricate themselves from the confines of last years approach to partnering, may also struggle to keep pace with those that welcome partnerships in rapidly evolving business environments.