Companies seeking partnerships may have unique technologies to offer, but their failure, sometimes, is to not recognize that their creations are misaligned with the broader scheme of another company’s platform.
That was one point of advice that Richard Campitelli, vice-president of professional services Canada with SAP (NYSE: SAP), had for would-be partners. He said he speaks to about five partners a month and the biggest issue, he said, isn’t lack of great ideas, but “they’re so far reaching relative to my mandate and the mandate of SAP overall.”
“Make sure you have a reality check…and how do I actually go and get that done,” said Campitelli.
And, choosing partners who are merely receptive to the conversation is not enough, but “what you really want are people who are genuinely interested in driving your business.”
Campitelli, along with Microsoft Canada, Xerox Canada (NYSE: XRX), and CGI comprised an Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)-hosted panel discussing dynamics of the partner ecosystem and how to be a part of it.
The partnering landscape is considerably different today than it was last year even, said Campitelli, and “we don’t think of it as partnering anymore, we call it a global ecosystem.”
In fact, businesses that are considering partnering have different and new partner models to consider nowadays, and, said Campitelli, figure out how and where their organization fits in that ecosystem. But the end goal for SAP, he continued, is to identify how to engage with different components of the ecosystem to ultimately improve brand position and value to customers.
Campitelli said SAP’s partner ecosystem in Canada is estimated to be worth $3 billion, and its global ecosystem to be $30-50 billion. “That’s a pretty big space for you to engage in,” he said. “So, it’s worth talking about.”
Recently, SAP partnered with Milpitas, Calif.-based supply chain management technology provider Bristlecone Ltd. In such cases, Campitelli said, SAP chose to partner “because you can’t be all things to everyone anymore, you really have got to leverage partners” to meet the unique demands that customer may have.
Among the available partner programs the company has is the Software Developer Network to help developers determine whether their technology fit with SAP. “There is an opportunity for your product, no matter how niche, to fit into the ecosystem,” he said.
He added that besides software partners, there is a services side to the ecosystem as well for service partners, said Campitelli.
Campitelli’s advice to would-be partners is to think global. “Canada is a big ecosystem, but it’s not the biggest ecosystem.” And, successful partnerships will depend on the right connections. The first connection may not get a business where it wants to be, said Campitelli, but that they should keep at it in order to make the right ones.
Another panelist, Doug McCuaig, senior vice-president and general manager for CGI for the Ontario, Atlantic and Western Canada, agreed that taking a global perspective can grant even more success to an-already successful Canadian company. “Think of European companies,” he said, “they always think global first instead of just the markets across the border.”
And researching a company is a good start if there’s interest in a possible partnership. “Partnerships are harder than doing it within your own business,” said McCuaig, adding that a good partnership stems from understanding the other person’s business.
Eric Gales, vice-president of small business and mid market solutions and partners for Microsoft Canada, described the company’s partner program as one that assumes potential partners have very focused areas of business on particular industries and verticals, and provides them the focused resources they need.
Gales described a recent discussion with a partner based in the country’s west coast with a desire to expand across Canada. “Those are the kinds of partners that we like because many partners that we get engaged with like to go south of the border,” he said. Microsoft is working with the partner on their business development plan and to determine “where best they can land…and land in some business,” he said.
But engaging in the partner process can demand a lot of effort, said Campitelli, therefore establishing up front how much time a company wants to allot is vital, because “it takes a significant amount of investment…so you’ve got to get organized around that.”