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Does your partnering strategy fit a 3rd platform world?

Does your partnering strategy fit a 3rd platform world?

Is your partnering strategy keeping up with today’s massive shifts in technology and consumption patterns? 

Cloud, mobile, Big Data and social – what IDC refers to as “Third Platform” technologies – have displaced the client/server model of the Second Platform, which in turn took over from First Platform mainframes.  IDC now predicts that virtually all new enterprise IT investments through 2020 will be built on Third Platform technologies and solutions, involving millions of apps, billions of users and trillions of things.

Amid all this technology change, the implications for vendors’ partnering strategy aren’t getting nearly the attention they deserve.  The rules for partnering success are being completely re-written.  If vendors don’t evolve their ecosystems – technology partnerships, alliances, channel relationships, supply chain – they risk being marginalized.  Third Platform partnering strategies are aligned with and support Third Platform technology trends.  Second Platform partnering models, on the other hand, risk keeping organizations from making the leap into the Third Platform.

Is your partnering strategy Second Platform, or Third?  

Vendor-centric to user-centric
The Second Platform was dominated by a handful of vendors:  Microsoft for the operating system, IBM for PCs and Cisco for networking.  These vendors set the pace and direction of innovation, often involving proprietary technologies.  They assembled groups of partners to help them execute.  The Third Platform, by contrast, revolves around the user, with the user expecting vendors to come to the table with open solutions supported by a broad ecosystem of interoperable capabilities to maximize customer choice and flexibility. 

Static to agile
In the Second Platform, a vendor’s ecosystem typically consisted of select, long-standing, loyal partners.  But in the Third Platform, vendors need to be able to quickly ramp different sets of partnerships – to meet a customer’s particular need.   The vendor winning the business is increasingly the vendor who can assemble the right set of complementary partners for the customer need – with a premium on speed.

Supporting to core
Partnering has traditionally been seen as an adjunct vs a core corporate function.  In the Second Platform, vendors competed on feature sets within their comfort zone.  Partnerships were a nice-to-have, augmenting a vendor’s primary competencies.  Go-to-market partnerships were an expedient extension of the direct model.  Now, in the Third Platform, customers want to know with what other companies’ solutions your offering is interoperable, what other vendors’ applications yours can support, what broad business solutions you can contribute to. 

Supply room to board room
In the Second Platform, you could think of many corporate partnerships as being kept in the supply room.  Vendors would bring out a particular partnership when it was useful to close or fulfill a certain deal, but competed largely in their established areas of dominance around a predictable feature set.  Alliance and partnering professionals typically played supporting roles in the corporate cast.  Fast forward to the Third Platform, where ecosystems increasingly tip the balance and determine who wins the deal.  Partnerships and partnering expertise have moved out of the supply room and into the boardroom. 

Me to us
As partner ecosystems become increasingly important, so does the shared opportunity among partners.  At Brocade we’re convinced that the Third Platform and New IP networking translate into new, stepped up potential for growth, profitability and industry leadership.  More than ever, the open, ecosystem-driven nature of New IP networks means partnerships play a starring role. Whereas the Second and the First Platform may have have been about “me,” the Third Platform is very much about “us.” 

Now, re-examine your partnering model.  Has it caught up yet to the dynamics of a Third Platform world?

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