This article originally appeared in Forbes and discusses how industry collaboration can be beneficial. Read on to determine whether technical partnerships are the right move for your business.
Collaboration has long been hailed as the holy grail of innovation. However, as we all focus on our bottom line, especially during uncertain times, it’s easy for collaboration to fall by the wayside.
But here’s the thing: Industry collaboration can give customers better solutions with more flexibility while improving the bottom line for vendors. When your company is developing new solutions and services, consider the bigger picture and where you fit into the market.
Particularly in this time of evolving consumer demands and "new normals," collaboration can help your organization reach your end goals faster — whether that be reaching a new target audience, entering a new market or expanding your business’s visibility in the industry.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to determine if collaboration is a fit for your organization.
What is your end goal?
First and foremost, having clearly defined objectives around a new solution will help make the decision to collaborate — or to not collaborate — much easier. Make sure you set clear goals and expectations about what you’re hoping to achieve by launching a new solution, and then map out your go-to-market (GTM) strategy from there.
Look for natural adjacencies
Once you’ve determined that you could meet your goals through a partnership, you need to make sure you’re partnering with the right company. In the tech industry, the best partners are usually those who offer complementary products or who can offer customers an enhanced service through collaboration. Think Splunk’s partnership with Google Cloud, which helped Splunk users get more out of their data across more cloud environments (i.e., Google Cloud). Or, in the cybersecurity world, Palo Alto Networks’ partnership with OPSWAT, which brought customers enhanced security protection on new endpoint platforms and IoT devices.
Find other companies that align with your company's values and goals
Successful partnerships extend beyond just your product offerings. Make sure that you’re partnering with an organization that has a similar mission and value set — no matter its size. At the end of the day, consumer trust is earned, not bought, so it’s important that you’re working with an organization you trust.
A partnership should be mutually beneficial
With any partnership, it’s important that you consistently see how working together will benefit your brand and bottom line. If you have the resources, internal expertise and demand from your customer base for a new product, sometimes it makes sense to build and ship the product yourself. Other times, partnering with another industry leader is the best way to go. Good partnerships should bolster your product offering and enhance your GTM strategy and your bottom line.
If you feel like your organization isn’t getting what you want out of the exchange, it’s OK to walk away. As I like to say, it’s important to fail fast and rebuild from there. Not all partnerships go according to plan — it’s important to do what’s best for your business and your customers in the long run.
Listen to your customers
Last but certainly not least, listen to your customers when you’re deciding if collaboration is right for you. Talk with them to understand their challenges and concerns.
For example, my company, Illumio, recently decided to collaborate with another security vendor. A lot of our customers had been asking us to extend our security capabilities from the data center and cloud to the endpoint, and with the rise in ransomware and heightened threat landscape due to more people working from home, we recently decided to move forward. One of the challenges with endpoint security is that new solutions almost always require customers to deploy yet another new agent or a piece of software on every endpoint.
Understanding this, we saw an opportunity to partner with another vendor. If we could give customers the option to use our endpoint solution through an agent they’d already installed, that could make their lives easier and deliver value much faster. This was a main driver behind our partnership with CrowdStrike: It would serve the customer.
Not only did this partnership enable us to reach thousands of new customers, but it also enabled CrowdStrike users to access our endpoint segmentation solution without deploying any additional software. In short, it was mutually beneficial.
One of the greatest benefits of industry collaboration is that it maximizes value while minimizing cost. Often, through collaboration, organizations can better serve their customers and reach their goals more efficiently.
Particularly as Covid-19 continues and security remains top of mind for organizations across industries, thoughtful collaboration should be a top priority. Business leaders have the responsibility to do what’s best for their customers and companies, and intentional collaboration is a critical part of that responsibility.