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Following our series on how Partnership is the key to business growth and success, Rajat Kohli, Partner, Zinnov speaks to Alyssa Fitzpatrick, Vice President and General Manager, Sales and Marketing Group and Software and Services Partners at Intel in our next episode. In this episode, Alyssa covers how Partnerships can grow businesses by increasing the global reach and availability of technology companies across regions.
Rajat and Alyssa talk about how creating a robust, detailed partnering strategy can not only create goodwill but help cultivate an ecosystem, and a collaborative mindset. She emphasizes how data helps companies carve out their product placement strategy, within partner programs.
Speaking about the larger community of partners, Alyssa shares her vision of how software companies can all grow, with a more synergetic agenda. Using anecdotes from her 30-year journey, Alyssa compares companies of today with those of decades ago, to describe how the partnership model has evolved, and how it can be made even more effective with data, concrete measurement metrics, and a strong rooting of trust.
Rajat: Hello everyone and welcome to an all new episode of Zinnov Podcast. I’m Rajat Kohli, partner at Zinnov and I’ll be a host today. If you look at the partnership and alliances have existed in one form or another for several decades. However, not all partnerships succeed and not all partnership models work.
In fact many partnerships have met their end even before taking off. The right kind of organization structure, the leadership buy-in, and the right partner models are critical for a successful partnership.
What are the other ingredients necessary to make a partnership work? What kinds of tweaks unnecessary to make a partnership model work? To shed light on some of these aspects around partnership and alliance, we have Alyssa Fitzpatrick, Vice President, Sales and Marketing Group, and General Manager Software and Services partners with Intel. With three decades of software leadership experience, Alyssa has led significant business transformation efforts driving organizational changes, modern commerce initiatives, as well as cloud adoption across the global technology ecosystem.
Let’s hear from Alyssa herself. Welcome Alyssa. Pleasure to have you with us today.
Alyssa: Thank you so much. You make me sound so impressive.
Rajat: Before we dive into the world of partnerships, Alyssa, I wanted to ask about your own journey in the technology ecosystem. How have you seen it evolve over the last three decades and what some of the highs you had so far?
Alyssa: Well, that’s a fun question to tackle. I started partnering in the early 90s. And so when I got out of college, I started out working for Andersen Consulting, which is now Accenture. And one of the first jobs they put me on was engaging with a small software partner and understanding how are they going to market and how do we support them in doing so.
And it was really around building a go-to-market strategy with a small software company in Silicon Valley. And that was really how my exposure to partnering started and how it became really the theme of my career. It wasn’t something that I started off my career with the expectation of I’m going to be in partnering for the next 30 years.
I was a computer science major. I was a coder. And coming out of college, I started coding with a small startup by way of Accenture. And then I saw the power of what a large system integrator could do for a small software company in exposing market, exposing innovative ideas and really bringing horsepower to an application and bringing it to life. And that’s when I realized the power of partnership. And before I knew it became my passion of how do I help companies really unlock the value and the strength of what a partnership can bring. Because going alone, you’re really only tapping in a part of your potential. But when you start to partner and you start to really tap into scalable efforts, the entire opportunity changes. And I went from coding in a small company and realizing what that power was to creating partnerships between large organizations.
I spent a good six years at Oracle building relationships and one of them that I managed globally was between Oracle and Sun Microsystems. I learned so much about how technology is reliant on each other. And how at the time, Oracle’s database running on Sun Microsystem hardware… that was a critical partnership. And without that partnership working, we would’ve had a much more difficult time going to market. Partnerships are really driving our industry and alliances and relationships and building solutions together.
It really does come down to how does your technology or your ability to support customer needs, how does that get better by utilizing your ecosystem and your peer group around you.
Rajat: From computer science and coding, and now managing the partnership for one of the largest technology organizations. But now delving into the partnerships, Alyssa, we are seeing very dedicated partner motions implemented by large technology companies. What according to you, would be the biggest pointer of attraction for companies to invest in partner programs going forward?
Alyssa: So when you’re thinking about partnering, it really comes down to three things. The first one is driving sales. You will engage in a partnership with another company to meet the needs of your customer and to drive your revenue.
Otherwise there really isn’t another point to have a partnership. Everyone’s working to accelerate their company and drive their performance. Well, you have partnerships to help you do so. So your number one reason for a partnership is enhancing your revenue strategy. Your number two is around capacity. Even at the largest companies cannot reach every single customer in every single region around the world. Partner grow your capacity. Having partnerships in various locations around the world to serve your customers allows you to grow in a way that you couldn’t do alone, to show up and open up your operations in other countries. That takes a lot of work to stand that up, but you can build a partnership and become instantly available in those countries.
You could also have great technology, but you need hands-on implementation services. If you don’t have those through your partnerships in certain locations, then you’re not going to be accessible by those customers. So growing your capacity and your reach is very, very critical with your partnering strategy.
So number one, grow your revenue. Number two, grow your reach in your capacity. The third reason for partnering is innovation, because you can think as far as your company can dream on what your products can do and what your solutions can do and how you can make your customers successful. But the more brains you bring to a problem, the better of a solution you’re going to have.
Rajat: Great. That’s a very well articulated three pillar strategy and definitely we’ll look into each of these three pointers We have seen that a very specific set of people are running the partners sales channel within the large technology companies. Do you see having a focused organization structure to manage partners impacting the bottom line of the business as well?
Alyssa: 100%. You succeed in those things that you measure. And when you measure that is because you have an intentional design to achieve that. So having a focused team on what are we trying to achieve and what are the steps to getting there, and then measuring that progress as you go with the understanding that, ‘Hey, are we focusing on innovation? Are we focusing on growing our capacity? Or are we really focusing on our top line revenue and how are we achieving that?’
Having that clarity of focus and then building a team to really engage and support those strategies is the only way. So you really want to make sure that you’re building a team that has a counterpart as well in your partner ecosystem. So you’ve got a focused effort around building that partnership scale, but you also have a reciprocal in the relationships that you’re working,
Rajat: Looking at the partner strategy as you define and the second element that you mentioned is innovation. Now, this ecosystem is entirely about the digital transformation and we see the adoption of the new age technologies which definitely include the AI, data analytics, quantum computing, Metaverse and many more which have proved to be the go to strategy while managing the large scale deals. How do you see these technologies play out in managing the partners and providing newer benefits to them?
Alyssa: So I think that, not only capturing the power of the innovation of technologies with our customer, but also within how we’re running our partner ecosystem is critical. So we’re all seeing what’s happening with the adoption of AI and you know, the last 30 years I’ve watched the data estate go from very small to enormous, and it’s just given us so much to analyze and understand and help us predict and pattern match.
That from a customer perspective absolutely is critical and not just looking at it from our lens and making sure that we’re seeing the lenses of our partners and how they’re addressing the customer need. So, we’re working with our customers and bringing these new technologies for their adoption.
Why are we not adopting that within our own strategies in working with partners? We are trying to optimize revenue, trying to innovate, or trying to grow capacity. How do we look at what has happened in the past to make sure that we’re building the strategies that are going to work for the future?
It changes every quarter. It’s a new challenge in front of us. And so by looking at the data that the decision making of our customers through these last 30 years and the decisions that they’re making today… how are partners have changed their business? So by looking at what has happened over the last 30 years and probably more importantly in the last five, that’s what helps us make those decisions.
We can get better at partnering, we can get better at revenue capture. Who are the customers that we should be targeting? With which partners? Now we have enough data to tell us which partner is the best partner to engage at the right time with the right customer opportunity.
When it comes to innovation, the same thing. There’s so many innovative products out there. We’ve seen which ones actually hunt together. Utilizing the technology trends that have hit our industry over the last 10 or 20 years is critical to the partnering space. So it’s not just tools for sales or tools for engineering, it’s tools for partnering too.
We’ve got to utilize what is made available to us in order to get competitive and better as technology trends come forward and are hitting our market. It’s not just for our customers or for certain audiences. It’s absolutely relevant and critical for the partnering teams and the partnering strategies to adopt the technologies that empower us to do better.
Rajat: Wow! What a way! And definitely technology is going to play an important role internally as well.
You touched upon a very important point, sis have transformed the cells and we were doing a round table last week where it was like, SIs are becoming everything today. They’re not only the SI for today, they’re transforming themselves as well. How do you see the transformation of the partner ecosystem, like the SIs or the ISVs?
Alyssa: So I see System Integrators and ISVs coming closer and closer every day and they have always been a symbiotic relationship. They rely on each other. An ISV needs an integrator to actually make their technology really come alive at a customer and a System Integrator needs a plethora of technologies to apply to the problem of the customer. Sometimes they need to create from scratch and that requires their own innovation and their own development.
But collectively, as a customer, you’re going to see no fewer than probably seven System Integrators that are actually affecting the decision making of that customer. And probably no fewer than 10 software technologies. And so you look at that landscape and think, okay, who’s got partnerships and where and how do we leverage the best of it? Because if you walk into a customer and you see a System Integrator and a software partner and you want to create an engagement there, you’re not going to go after them singularly.
You want to go after the partnership that they have built. Otherwise, you’re really going the hard way. And so when you look at how partners have changed and morphed, they’ve become closer and closer to each other. They’ve become more and more reliant. If you look at a System Integrator, they have many lines of business and many of them are anchored on ISV technology.
Granted, they do align themselves by vertical. And so you will look at specific vertical and understand who are the right technologies that support that vertical. And they’ve built those partnerships. And so leveraging those partnerships and understanding how to engage across SI and a software partner, empowering both of their agendas is critical to making yourself successful.
And when you look at these partnerships, what is their end goal? We think about the SIs today and their end goal is to make their customer happy. No longer does the customer have to go out and really look at an ISV ecosystem.
Their SI can serve that up for them. In addition, an SI can help them understand their deployment model. The SI is very critical in helping a customer understand what is the right deployment for them and then aligning up the right technologies to support that.
And then one step further, when those technologies may not exist, again the SI might develop that. So the SI can be a software developer as well, because if they develop a solution that hunts with more than one customer, now they’re their own ISV too. So we can have an SI become everything while at the same time they do look at the fast button and the easy button which is what software packages are ready to go, so I don’t have to build those. What services can I accelerate? Can I get to the cloud very quickly? How do I do that? So yes, an SI can be the jack of all trades for a customer, but it is their superpower to be able to accelerate to the end result of the customer by aligning the right technologies, the right partners, and the right deployment methods, all in one.
And so that’s what gives that SI that power in the customer, because the customer can go to one stop and engage with an SI and build out their entire project Now the SI isn’t everything, because the SI does capture a lot of mindshare, but at the same time the ISV can also be a very big winner. When the ISV can show up to a customer and show how they can change the way they do their business, that can be the lever of change that starts that customer down that path, and that’s when the customer will then reach out and engage in SI.
So that can start either from an ISV or an SI, but again it is a symbiotic relationship between them. And you know, we’ve really got to look at what is the customer seeking out of each of the partners that they’re engaging with. And is it the SI that they’re looking for to solve everything? Or are they looking to glue together the appropriate technologies because they want to be in control as the customer.
So it can go many different ways, but yes, I agree, the partners have changed over the last 30 years as size have become very, very powerful in their mindshare with customers. But I do believe that ISVs have really, really designed the art of the possible with our customers.
Rajat: Wow. Interesting. I’ll ask very tricky question, Alyssa as you’re managing the partnership ecosystem. What keeps you awake at night? What are the areas where still some work needs to be done and keep you busy?
Alyssa: I like everything to be dressed right, dress, and it’s not something you can achieve in a partner ecosystem at scale. And really what I like to see is standard processes and standard ways of engagement so that partners, when they’re working with each other, they know how to engage.
What I would love to see out of our ecosystem is more alignment, is much more fluidity in the way that we show up for discovery, the way that we are engaged and sold to our customers, and how our customers buy and can expect a typical buying pattern, whether it’s in the cloud by subscription or the on-prem or hybrid models.
We’ve got varying ways of buying technology, of gluing it together, of upgrading it, making sure it’s integrated across our enterprise. I aspire for all of our partnerships to come together and really try to operationalize how we engage our customers.
And that happens best when we align the partners that are selling together to customers. If we can come together and start to cohesively sell together and align our strategies, it’s a better experience for the customer because all of the technologies that are trying to drive his digital transformation are working in tandem and working cohesively. Then we would provide a much deeper trust model with our customers and therefore longevity in how we work with them. How do we do that? Data. Data helps us get there. And that’s where I think if we can all start to realize that data is the foundation of our success and leveraging and learning from our data together and using the data to drive human interaction. That’s where I think the power will really be felt within the partnering relationship and alliance space in the technology industry.
Rajat: Data is an important aspect. Which is an important data element that able to decide what needs to be done between the partner, customer, and the technology company?
Alyssa: So I think that really what it comes down to is aligning to first the customer objectives. And when you’re looking at a customer as a partner, you walk into that customer with a lens of how am I selling my technology? Or how am I selling my service? It’s very hard to open an aperture and think about how does that apply to my partners? How does it apply to the technologies that actually help me?
And so, by looking at a much more neutral type of a view of a customer’s strategy can actually help you sell better, and that is by extracting what is the Intel lens or the Microsoft lens, or whatever other product it is. Take that lens out and look at the customer journey.
Look at where they’re trying to go and what they’re trying to achieve, and actually extract your own agenda from what the customer’s agenda is. That’s the first set of analysis that needs to be done as a skilled account executive and then it is looking at what are the purchases that customer has made in the past.
What is the technology landscape they have today? Is it serving them? And then where does your technology together with others fit in that journey? You’ll gain trust and long-term adoption from your customer.
Once you’ve got that partnership that you know is valuable to your company, how do you together solve the customer needs, speaking the customer language? And that is learned by doing your research.
Rajat: That’s great. Taking that playbook, Alyssa, would it be the same playbook for technology companies who are transforming from hardware to the software, or the companies are just starting their partner ecosystem? Would the same playbook be relevant for them?
Alyssa: Well, actually I think those that may be starting out now actually have a pretty big advantage because, they’re not going through the learnings that we went through over the last 30 years. When we started building partner relationships back in the early 90s, I was at the heart of the Accenture Siebel relationship being started in 1993, and it was a lot of trial and error and we learned a lot, and a lot of what we felt like we needed to do was just get a lot of bodies, a lot of people that could do the work. But understanding what is your long-term objective, the best part about it, building today in this era is that it’s all been anchored around trust. And I hear that from the industry, over and over again. That was not a conversation 30 years ago. That was not a conversation even 20 years ago, but today it’s a trust model. Customers want to trust the companies they invest in. And so if they’re investing in a partnership, whether it’s a hardware, a software, or a services company, it is anchored in trust.
And trust comes from understanding. It comes from understanding the problem that we’re solving. It comes from transparency and sharing what are we doing and how are we working together. And it also comes from predictability and being predictable in the way that companies will align, companies will have partnerships that customers would expect to show up together. And so creating that trust model is so critical today and starting your partnering practice with trust in mind will serve you very well. It’s a matter of anchoring on the customer and having the right theme to the way that you set up your partnering strategy and that theme has to be anchored in customer and customer trust.
Rajat: Wonderful. This is great conversation, Alyssa. Thanks for highlighting the three angles that everyone should look into the partnership model – revenue capacity, as well as innovation.
Thank you so much for sharing your points of view with us, Alyssa. I’m sure our listeners found this as enlighting, as I did. That’s all for today’s episode. We’ll be back soon with another episode and another industry leader. Till then, take care and goodbye. Thank you so much.