The Cloud and Coopetition

In today’s world, failing to embrace coopetition represents a myopic world view. For those unfamiliar with it, coopetition is the notion that companies who are competitors can partner to bring solutions to the market, the goal being to deliver mutually beneficial results. And it’s occurring all over – examples abound of companies that previously had competitive stances however are now building partnerships. There are many reasons why this is happening.

co·op·e·ti·tion [/kōˌäpəˈtiSH(ə)n/]

Collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results.

A critical mindset shift 

Customers have “silo fatigue” and are demanding that vendors work together for the enhancement of the customers’ experience. Gone are the days of non-integrated, disjointed solutions. Convergence is the new mantra, and it permeates all aspects of IT. This high level of disruption is driving go-to-market plans and roadmaps for many technology suppliers and causing them to reconsider their competitive landscape. In some cases, this results in newly struck alliances. In others, it drives M&A activity.

Additionally, the business models that resellers and integrators employed as recently as a few years ago have been challenged, and for the most part, are downright antiquated. New priorities have emerged, and it’s next to impossible to build a new capability or offering in time to gain critical mass in the market. They need to partner up to deliver it.

The market has changed, but our objectives haven’t 

In today’s tech market, it’s easier than ever to find overlap in products and services when comparing yourself to other providers. The key, however, is not to look at what you have, but instead, look at what you’re missing. Consider the objectives that the majority of providers have today: 

  • Retain existing customers while expanding wallet share
  • Build market share

When considering which competitors to partner with, look at where your gaps lie when compared to your goals. The perfect partner may provide a service that your organization lacks, allowing you to grow your portfolio within existing accounts. In other instances, a partner may serve a different market segment or geography where you’re looking to expand. It’s crucial to look at ‘How can we help each other?’ rather than immediately jumping to ‘How can we hurt each other?’

Where to start

Technology providers, more than anything, need to think of coopetition as a new way to get things done. But still, it begs the question: how are we going to ask a competitor to partner with us – to help us grow our business – when we could be calling on the same customers? Everything from the operating structure to compensation plans, marketing, and more needs to be questioned and answered. 

Not surprisingly, defining the rules of engagement upfront is key to building a strong, mutually beneficial partnership. But you need to do more than just that to do it right. Some fundamental ground rules you should be mindful of are:

  • Trust and credibility will help drive your partnership
  • Be honest about your capabilities (and gaps)
  • Take it slow and keep expectations in check at all times

Coopetition, when done correctly, can be mutually beneficial to both partners and can provide a better overall experience for customers. 

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