Are partnerships strategically important for tech companies?Do they add tangible value? These and similar questions have been answered witha resounding yes. Companies of all shapes and sizes are now in partnership modefor all the right reasons.
Not all partnerships though are designed and executed welland efficiently. That usually comes back to bite most parties involved. And thefuture of partnerships? Exciting! Using new Web3 paradigms and tech will maketoday’s partnerships look like a C64 compared to a modern laptop.
Drawing on a decade of working in different ecosystem &partnership-roles in the tech sector I am sharing a summary of my observationsof the past and present, as well as my outlook for the future.
My outlook for tomorrow is my expectation as an ecosystem-practitioner.We can jointly revisit this post in 5 years’ time to see if I am any good as anoracle 😊
I look at the tech sector in a very broad sense here,encompassing telco, software, IT, fintech, web2&3, hardware, and everythingelse in between.
Thanks to all friends who entertained me with discussions onthe matter, helping to crystalise the below.
What would you have included or left out?
#ecosystems #technology #partnerships #Web3 #DAO #future #businessinnovation
- Vertical, traditional supplier-client orvendor-reseller relationships.
- Focused on closing value-chain and capabilitygaps.
- 1+1 = 2, often Single-Purpose, with limitedcomplexity and limited potential.
- First large ecosystems emerged, oftenorchestrated by big tech, so it’s clear who is boss and reaps the financialrewards (which of course happened to be the ones who invested in building theseecosystems in the first place).
- To close gaps
- Arising from conventional value chainrelationships
- First large Web2 ecosystems built, but value-distributionis disjointed
- Ecosystems and partnerships have become an integralpart of everyone's strategy & GTM in tech.
- Partnerships are more strategic in nature andaimed at long-term joint value creation.
- Deliberate risk- and reward sharing to unlockmarket-level opportunities.
- Foundational “ecosystem infrastructure” is beingbuilt in many organisations – for partnership governance & management,alignment of financial & client objectives, sharing of IP & fastscaling of successful solutions.
- Big with small, fast with slow, high- withlow-tech, IP-owners with Sales organisations – a happy Polypartnership-worldhas emerged where for instance small digital studios can partner with multinationallarge tech/ telco players on an equal footing. And they know it.
- Many partnerships and ecosystems still battle withthe negative effects of dishonesty (with oneself/ with partner(s)) – not everychallenge can be solved and not every opportunity space can be opened up viapartnerships and ecosystems, too often “strategic partnerships” are abused as meresales channels, too often the homework was not done upfront to eliminate conflictingobjectives & agendas.
- Still disconnected from the web2 world, wheremost of the tech sector resides in, the web3 DAO space is advancing andmaturing at a frightening speed, laying the foundations for tomorrow. Investmentand Grant DAO’s give us a good indication of what is possible.
- Partnerships integral part of strategy
- Long-term joint value creation
- Plagued by negative effects of dishonesty
- Web3 DAO’s developing as future platforms ofchoice
- Partnerships will be programmatic and as such anintegral feature of defined ecosystems.
- Popularity of Polypartnership*-DAO’s as best wayto organise and incentivise participants in partnerships / overlappingecosystems.
- Efficiency and standardisation will rule thanksto sophisticated DAO tooling.
- Limited scope for clunky and bespoke arrangementssince they cannot scale and lack transparency.
- Strategic & economic alignment, eliminationof conflicts, will be hard-wired into the relevant DAO platforms (meaning entitiescannot participate without accepting the terms and rules to achieve such).
- Thanks to DAO tooling and thinking finding itsway into the tech ecosystem space, partnerships become composable and can be projectdriven. Long-term partnerships and commitments do not conflict anymore withshorter, conditional engagements with a different set of participants,commercial goals, or governance rules within the same ecosystem or partnershipprogram.
- Ecosystem-as-a-Service providers will offer aneasy entry-point into the new world of Polypartnerships, allowing companies toquickly spin-up new ecosystems, partnerships and JV’s, already containing thenecessary commercial and contractual bridges into future investment and M&A activities.
- Ultimately some partnerships and ecosystems willoutgrow their founding members/ orchestrators and become new organisations intheir own right, fully controlling value propositions and resources.
- Partnerships will be programmatic
- Popularity of Polypartnership DAO’s
- Partnerships become composable
- Ecosystem-as-a-Service providers will emerge
*In case you wonder why I am not calling them justecosystems - I consider ecosystems to be larger, more complex systems.Polypartnerships reside inside ecosystems (but don't have to). They canstraddle various ecosystems at the same time and are a concept that is closerto the nuts and bolts of partnering, such as contracting, client engagement,opportunity qualification, joint budget planning, etc.