Case Study: Fortune 50 Giant

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A Fortune 50 Technology Giant Faces Crisis. Alliancesphere Intervenes

In 2009, a large global customer of a Fortune 50 technology giant was at a crossroads; a crisis of confidence existed in the relationship, and change was in the air. This customer engagement, which had existed for several years, was underpinned by a multimillion-dollar annual agreement that was now at risk. For some years, the client had invested heavily in the technology company's most strategic products using the terms of a global agreement that gave them full access to all of the technology company's products and services at preferential pricing. The customer felt that their commitment to the technology company was not being reciprocated by the vendor.

Now, the customer was contemplating a transition to purchasing the IT company's products a la carte rather than signing another enterprise wide agreement. This would represent a big blow to the vendor who considered enterprise agreements sacrosanct when it came to its relationships with Global 1,000 and multinational customers. Every product and service they provided through the enterprise agreement could potentially be put up for bid against competitors. With much at stake, the technology company implemented a new sales team in an attempt to right the ship.

Challenges

One of the main drivers of the company 's ambivalence was what it perceived as a lack of sufficient attention paid to its needs by the technology company for the amount of money it was spending. "The more we invest, the less we feel you like us" was the refrain the client had for the vendor's CEO at the time. The product-oriented IT company's employees were not engaging collaboratively enough with the customer and its other top-tier technology suppliers to truly solve the customer's pressing business challenges.

Moreover, the tech industry had been moving more towards a services model, and although the IT company was no stranger to services, the customer felt its approach was still too product-centric for this new IT paradigm. The customer wanted the relationship to focus on business problems, so that solutions could be designed to fix them. In addressing these challenges, the client was looking to the vendor to collaborate more effectively with other suppliers in their ecosystem. The customer had similarly significant agreements with several other large tech companies, and the IT vendor's ability to interoperate with these players would ultimately be a key determinant of its, and the customer's, success.

Solution

In September 2009, the technology company turned to Alliancesphere to help instill a greater degree of collaboration into the client relationship. Alliancesphere had achieved great success on dozens of other engagements with this company over the course of the decade. Now, the consultancy was charged with helping its client reinvigorate the union with this long-time customer.

The first step was to convene the tech company's key team members from all over the globe to meet with senior officials from the customer organization. Through an open dialogue between these high-ranking executives, the group collectively assessed the latter's needs and developed a plan that aligned activities with the client's other 15 technology suppliers, many of whom were also partners of the technology company. Using Alliancesphere's collaborative offerings, the new team now had a strategy aligned to the customer's agenda.

In the next 12 months, Alliancesphere guided the IT vendor and the partners it had in common with the customer through a process that would enable each party to leverage the other to accomplish the client's objectives. Alliancesphere's structured Collaborative Partner Selling process brought together field teams from multiple technology partners so that the allied companies could mine their respective capabilities for solutions that could best solve the customer's business problems. Alliancesphere's "three-in-the-box" philosophy then integrated one or more employees from the customer to participate in each stage of joint product or service development process. This feedback from the customer was crucial in shaping solutions that fit the client's needs.

The following year, Alliancesphere utilized its Joint Business Planning process to take the relationship to the next level and formally engage the client more deeply in planning and solution development. As the vendors progressed through each stage of the development life cycle, more and more employees from the client company would get involved in the project. Thus, all parties could continually validate that the tech companies' endeavors were heading in the right direction towards solving customer problems. By the end of the year, the client had shown its confidence in the vendors by increasing its investment and engagement. They saw the value that could be unlocked by understanding the complex set of interrelationships that connect 1) a technology company, 2) its partners and collaboration networks, and 3) the customer—what Alliancesphere calls "The Value Trinity."

Results

By 2012, the customer was so pleased with the direction of the IT company's (and its partners') solutions that they not only renewed the enterprise-wide agreement, it told the vendor it was now demonstrating the strongest degree of collaboration among its 15 top-tier IT suppliers. After being on the brink in 2009, seamless execution of the initial plan facilitated by Alliancesphere that year enabled all parties to meet or exceed the primary jointly-agreed-upon revenue figures and success metrics. Furthermore, the client has shown with its pocketbook how positively it feels about the course of the relationship; it is now spending more money with the vendor and is one of the latter's leading growth accounts.

With Alliancesphere's tools and processes—which have been honed through hundreds of successful engagements with the world's largest alliances—fully integrated into the relationship, the global manager that leads the energy account now considers Alliancesphere a part of his core team charged with expanding on the customer and vendors' progress.