Alliancesphere Integrates Rising Data Management Company's System Integrator Alliances into the Core
A few years ago, a rising data management and storage solutions company had come to a crossroads with its portfolio of alliances with Global Systems Integrators (GSIs), which included Accenture, CSC, HP Enterprise Services, Wipro, HCL, Infosys, Cognizant, and Atos, among others. Simply put, the company was not optimizing these partnerships to maximize their full value; these GSI alliances were not considered core to their business. At that point, the company had built robust and versatile technological capabilities through strategic partnerships with ITcompanies and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) such as Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, SAP, and VMware, many of which were also allies of the same GSIs. Now, the company realized it had a great opportunity to leverage mutual technology partners to add value to the numerous clients in the GSIs' respective customer bases.
This data management company turned to Alliancesphere to help integrate its GSI alliances into the nucleus of its business operations. Together, Alliancesphere and its new client, a rising star in data management and storage at the time, worked hand-in-hand to implement Alliancesphere's proprietary methods, processes, and methodologies to deliver end-to-end collaborative business execution, from strategy to implementation to ongoing operation, including corporate-to-field planning, implementation, and management.
Getting Things Straight: Aligning the Client Internally and Externally
The first step to integrating GSI alliances into the data management company's core operation was to align the company both internally across all of its regions and functions as well as externally with each GSI's value proposition. The former entailed something much more than just executive and field buy-in; the client and Alliancesphere pursued an "up, down, across, in, and out" approach. In addition to lining up champions (up) and geo sales personnel (down), the company pursued technology integrations (across) and mapped value to internal and external stakeholders (in and out).
The next step was to understand the GSIs' lines of business and practice areas—from the outsourcing side as well as traditional contract relationships—and plot how the storage company could add value to their offerings in vertical markets such as manufacturing, financial services, health care, and media and entertainment. Alliancesphere contributed significantly to this process by applying its decades of collective experience bolstering the processes and end user needs of companies within these industries.
Alliancesphere Frameworks Lay Building Blocks for Value Creation
With stakeholders within the storage company and its partners on the same page, the client-Alliancesphere team moved to lay the foundation for the program—a common operations framework consisting of three components: 1) defined intent of the partnership, 2) joint commitments against the partnering initiative components, and 3) governance procedures.
At the broadest level, the Alliancesphere-client team moved to define the "intent" for these GSI alliances, including the vision, objectives, and team structure of this group of partnerships. Realizing that vision and achieving the GSI program's goals depended on several stakeholders tugging in the same direction on one rope. In the absence of any true authority over the personnel that would ultimately determine the fate of this program, it was incumbent on the alliance management team to demonstrate a power of persuasion that would accomplish two principal objectives: 1) establish the roles of the technical, marketing, and sales employees, and 2) convince them of the critical importance of follow-through on their responsibilities. This entailed getting the appropriate product, technical, and services people to agree on—and deliver—solutions, producing the necessary collateral and training tools that would educate salespeople on these offerings, and devising a marketing plan to advance sales engagements and pursue leads.
As part of the process, Allianceshere and its client set out to identify champions and executive sponsors that would help drive this engagement. Once the appropriate people were on board, the governance procedures were implemented to set the cadence and rhythm around the partnerships, while enabling adaptability to the differences in each GSI's business model. Moreover, it set parameters to make sure that everyone delivered on their respective tasks and operated in a manner that did not promote individual agendas at the expense of GSI alliances' objectives. It also outlined how the results of the program would be tracked and its overall success measured.
Obtaining Customer Validation
With the framework in place, the client-Alliancesphere team set out to drive the creation of the GSI's respective offerings and the secure validation of these solutions from the end-customer in the process. To increase the probability of appealing to customers in the marketplace, the storage company and Alliancepshere sought end-customer buy-in at each stage of the solution development cycle —from qualify to capture to prototype to solution creation to ramp-up to general marketplace availability. At each of these steps, a set of customers would provide unvarnished feedback, which the client would then draw upon to guide the development of its offerings. With GSI customers validating the work of the storage company's technical teams and realizing the value of its solutions at each increment of development, the likelihood of these products and services having broad customer appeal once they were ultimately taken to market increased dramatically.
Execution: The Rubber Meets the Road
To execute a group of successful GSI partnerships, the data management provider needed well-defined team roles linked to the overall sales effort. To achieve the scale necessary to service these partners, its alliance management pros were supported by various global, area, and geo partner managers to drive results. A Global Partner Manager oversaw Geo Partner Managers representing the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. Those three geo managers were each responsible for several area/country relationships. With the field teams established, the client's sales organization was integrated into each GSI's operations to develop joint account plans that would drive partners through that last mile where the end customer sees the value.
Achieving Results and Sustaining Excellence
With all of the pieces in place, the storage solutions provider could now identify and unlock the potential value found in the complex set of interrelationships that connect a company, its partners and collaboration networks, and its customers. Once the customer validated the joint value brought by Alliancesphere's client and its GSI partners, successful execution of GSI alliance initiatives within the program framework turned that potential value into tangible and measurable positive results. Moreover, the success of the initial engagements provided the data management company's GSI teams a blueprint to make those outcomes repeatable.
The governance procedures devised earlier in the process were key to maintaining the client and its GSI partners' high standards. Quarterly business meetings with top executives were critical in dealing with challenges and resolving conflicts that arose in the partnerships. To optimize senior executives' time, agendas and other materials were prepared and formally reviewed internally and externally in advance of these meetings.
This content included a dashboard articulating the alliance organization's role in accomplishing critical company objectives, such as gaining new customers and developing new solutions that meet the needs of ever-changing client environments. This dashboard organized leading and lagging indicators customized to each level of executive, whether it was someone at the C-level or an area or geo manager. More important, the dashboards were accompanied by stories laid out in modular form that helped each stakeholder interpret and communicate that value for the decision maker a level above them.
Alliancesphere, Client Work Hand in Hand
In the end, the data management company was successful in integrating its system integrator alliance portfolio into its core business, and raising the profile of this segment of alliances within the company. The success of this client engagement could be traced directly to Alliancesphere "consult-with" philosophy. As it does with all of its clients, Alliancesphere worked side by side with its client to create a client-centered, outcome-driven program that covers the entire alliance life cycle—and executed it with the end customer in mind.
In other words, Alliancesphere and its client created and executed a vision for the latter's GSI portfolio—together.