Alliances are a complex consortium. There isn’t just one — but two or more companies coming together to create joint solutions for customers.
While this can be challenging, here’s a refreshing thought: There are some Alliance Aces who not only thrive in this challenging world, but believe it’s fun.
That was not a typo.
Recently we interviewed Dev Bardhan, the Global Leader in Digital Studio for SAP at IBM. For 16 years he’s been working with SAP and IBM in their go-to-market strategies for various joint solutions — including transformations in automotive, pharmacy clients, and others — some totalling billions of dollars.
If anyone knows the challenges of joint solutions and alliances, it’s Dev. He came on our Alliance Aces Podcast to share his thoughts on joint partnerships and innovation. You don’t want to miss what he has to say.
Challenge 1: Continually add value.
The essential component of any alliance relationship is the continual addition of value for the end-user. Dev explained how his team does this:
As SAP is rolling out new solutions, Dev’s team will handle the product first, in its early stages of development. They’ll create business use cases and POCs, and host design team sessions with customers — so when the product is finished, they can present a roadmap to the customer.
By getting in early and understanding the product, Dev’s team is already expertly prepared to show the customer the full power of each solution.
Challenge 2: Rolling out new products.
An obvious challenge with this type of early-stage development: Dev is viewing products that aren’t simply “unfinished” — the products are often in Beta, or even Alpha stages.
But that’s the fun part. The challenge, he says, is knowing the product. Once the product is learned, the rest is easy.
Finally, Dev and his team at IBM work closely with SAP to fix potential bugs so the customer transition is seamless. “IBM knows the product, IBM knows SAP, SAP knows IBM, we both know the customer. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Challenge 3: Keep moving forward.
Alliance success doesn’t end with one, or even two successes. If you’ve been around the Alliance Aces network long, you’ll hear this mentioned: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Next up on his agenda is another joint rollout: IBM Cloud Private…and SAP is jumping in.
IBM Cloud Private is a cloud network for governments, healthcare, and other entities with security concerns. As a leader in cloud technology, IBM is allowing customers a way to enjoy the ease of cloud access with cutting-edge security.
They’ve worked with SAP to build a POC so that customers can see SAP Cloud running on a private environment. Next, they can take this configuration and install it, so it’s plug-and-play — with a complete guidebook.
Final thoughts to other alliance leaders.
We love asking our guests this question:
“What would you say to an anyone wanting to have your job in alliance leadership someday?”
Dev had two great responses:
1: Think out of the box.
Consider the entire flow through the partners to the customer. Don’t think only of your customer, your product, or even your company. They aren’t separate pieces: Think about your partner and the customer as one end-to-end process
2. Contribute and collaborate on content.
Add value to your partners, the customer, and the community with blogs and other content. That’s how you build a network.
Dev takes this up a notch: He and his team have created an entire anthology of co-authored books between IBM and SAP on joint solutions. These books are full of side-by-side, joint-views of various products — from both IBM and SAP’s side — so customers can understand not just what one or the other sees in the product, but both.
This post is based on a Podcast with Dev Bardhan. To hear this episode, and many more like it, don’t forget to listen and subscribe to the Alliance Aces Podcast, or visit our dedicated Alliance Aces page.
To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about alliances, he can be reached by: