Is your Ecosystem a pipeline or a platform?

Vice President, Dallas Office

Recently, a client of mine mentioned how he successfully managed his alliance program.

Since I am always looking for ways to improve alliance activity, I asked him to describe what he did and how it was different.

He immediately began to list all the companies with whom he was in discussions. It was a Who's Who of his industry and he was talking with everybody. He shared how he evaluated his partner Ecosystem as a pipeline that was to be filled with eligible candidates that would pass through a qualifying funnel based on sales potential. The benefits of this approach is that it allows you to track a potential candidate through a defined process that places them neatly into a category for evaluation.

While a pipeline creates activity, it does not create a competitive advantage. A platform however, whether it is physical (think App Store), or conceptual (consider healthcare networks surrounding a hospital), creates an improved value proposition for the customer, while building a barrier to competitors. This concept was brought to light in the HBR Article; "Pipelines, Platforms and the New Rules of Strategy."

As relevant as platforms are for corporate strategy, they are equally important for your Ecosystem strategy. It forces you to think beyond quarterly sales quotas and to instead focus on competitive advantage. When developing an Ecosystem strategy, you will need to understand who can impact your industry, who needs to be monitored, what alliances or partnerships are required, and what initiatives need to be launched. This is an ongoing process that aligns with your company's business strategy and capabilities.

A strong Ecosystem platform has a number of characteristics in common:

Alliance strategy is more than identifying a gap in your portfolio, finding a candidate and negotiating an agreement. To develop a strong Ecosystem, you need to go much deeper. Empower your Ecosystem program to create energy to drive sales, while building the walls and moats to block your competition.

 

*Article originally posted on Russell Clarkson's LinkedIn page

About the Author

Russell is a part of Pariveda’s National Strategy practice. His focus is on accelerating revenue growth through operational and digital transformation. Russell has a strong background in building businesses that can scale quickly through either organic growth or Merger & Acquisition activity. He has more than 30 years of experience in Corporate Development, Operations, and Information Technology. His work crosses many industries including Telecommunications, Technology, Financial Services and Healthcare.

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