How Healthy Is Your Partnership Ecosystem?

How Healthy Is Your Partnership Ecosystem?

Being a good steward of your firm means planning ahead for its future, as well as thinking about how the actions of today will impact the results of tomorrow, next year, ten years from now. Staying vigilant about the future can mean that channel partners must expand the breadth of their solutions portfolio; many times, their hand is forced to expand in order to ensure future success.

In today’s digital and economic environment, making changes to one’s portfolio can seem a daunting task. After all, it’s difficult to guarantee that the changes you make will have lasting positive impact–no one can see into the future. However, it is important to take the temperature of your partnership ecosystem from time to time to make sure it’s still a healthy one. But where do you begin?

The IBM Institute for Business Value recently released a CEO Insight Study called, “Reinventing the Rules of Engagement,” after collecting data and interview answers from 884 CEOs spanning across 67 countries. In the study, IBM bases recommendations off of these interviews, giving channel partners, owners, and business leaders actionable advice for evaluating their firm’s present and future with regard to their partnerships. Here are a few extremely valuable highlights from the study:

The impact of technology. A decade ago, according to the study, business leaders didn’t believe technology would be as important as it is today. As a matter of fact, when surveyed about the top ten list of things they believed would have major impact on their enterprises, they ranked technology sixth–it didn’t even crack the top five. Now, of course, all of that has changed. The constant changes in the technological space can not only have lasting effect on your business, they can also be the entire basis for your business. Year after current year, technology now ranks as the #1 factor that CEOs feel they need to stay abreast of, as it is the one thing that carries the most repercussions for their enterprise.

But how does technology affect how you think about your partnerships? Taking technology into serious account, CEOs in the IBM study are anticipating three major actions they will need to take in order to flourish: embrace the disruption, build some shared value, and dare to be open to new developments. Instead of fighting the tide in its constant change, you must, as a business leader, welcome the changes–expected and unexpected. By embracing disruption and being open to these changes, you will weather your business storms far more effectively than business leaders who resist.

Keep friends close…and enemies closer. If you’re expanding your partnership ecosystem, as are 70% of CEOs in the study, you will need to keep an eye out on who your potential partners could be. It may surprise you to know that one in four CEOs believe that their future partnerships could be comprised of professionals who are their present-day competitors. Having conducted countless coaching and training sessions worldwide, it seems to me that these particular CEOs are thinking about their partnership ecosystem in the right way: when you need to expand, you need to look at all possible options. When you really examine partner options, you may find that your current competitors are your best choices: they know about the industry, they know about the marketplace, and they know what may work and what definitely does not work. As with the CEOs preparing for future business impacts from technology, you should remain open to uncharted possibilities with new partners!

Putting together your partner profile. The IBM study was careful to point out that, when looking for new potential partners, business leaders “need to think carefully about how they align strategic interests.” Is there anything worse for a business than a group of partners who all possess the same strengths and weaknesses? Enterprises cannot grow, thrive, and sustain themselves when those in charge are identical to one another. Additionally, you will need to make sure that, when bringing on another partner with complementary strengths and weaknesses, they are also someone with whom you can work well. Having partners who clash constantly about the vision and mission of your enterprise will not be healthy or conducive to business growth. As far as determining core competencies, we recommend the L6®methodology available to you through Cardinal Points; our tool will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in potential partners, making sure that your future partnership ecosystem is framed accurately.

You may not be able to see into your enterprise’s future through a crystal ball, but you can make decisions now to set your business up for success in the future through an expanded partner ecosystem. It’s never too late to start thinking about the next steps for leadership. Cardinal Points has vetted a number of Ecosystem Opportunities that can help you expand and grow; you can learn best how to leverage these opportunities, as well as the L6® Methodology, by contacting us directly. Embrace your ecosystem now!

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