Last week I was on the partner conference trail, visiting a couple of our partners for their annual events, these events are an opportunity for those companies to share with it’s partner community some of it’s latest and greatest ideas, some of their future direction road maps and of course a chance to meet and greet.
Now both events where very good, for different reasons, one was with Fujitsu, a relatively new partner to me and it provided a great opportunity to find out a lot more about what they do, they have a full breadth of solutions, from desktops and laptops, through to cloud services, with some nice converged and hyperconverged infrastructure in between.
Then NetApp, a long term partner, providing a real good look at some of their new storage initiatives, some great stuff around flash, a good look at their data fabric story that allows you to store your data anywhere but manage and access it with the same tools, regardless of where the data is housed be it on premise, in the cloud, both public and hybrid or any mix of them.
That’s all lovely for me of course, both events held in really nice venues The Brewery in London (not as beer laden as you’re thinking!) and Twickenham Stadium, home of English rugby for those into the oval ball game.
My overwhelming view of these two events, very positive, what good partners we have in these two companies, both showing vision and innovation, both with a wide range of solutions that can help the businesses we work with and both companies full of good people we can work with to help define solutions for our customers and, for us as a commercial business, providing good business opportunities.
What’s the point of all this then? both of these organisations are really good partners, one continuing to deliver solutions as they have for us for nearly 10 years and one, as a brand new partner opening up a wide range of new ideas to us.
I’m really happy with these partner choices and that got me thinking – what is it that makes a good partner, not only for my company as suppliers of technology, but what is it that drives those who are a consumers of technology to select their partners?
With that in mind I thought I’d put down a few ideas of what drives the decisions in our organisation when selecting partners. maybe they’ll give you some ideas you can use when you are making partnering decisions.
Do they have something interesting?
That’s the starting point, does the partner have something interesting to say, is the technology interesting? Are they doing something to disrupt, are they doing something new… these are the things that catch my techie attention – if they are just doing more of a me too, or something we already have a bunch of partners doing – what value are they bringing?
Does this partner solve a problem for me?
Great, the technology is interesting, but does it actually solve a problem, one of the hardest things is when someone comes in with a great technology and they are enthusiastic about it, yet, I just can’t see how it helps us,or helps our customers, it’s not solving a problem that I’m seeing in our real world.
Does that mean it doesn’t work? no, not at all, does that mean it’s not a good solution? again, no, not at all.
But if I can’t see where this solution addresses an issue for me, then it is unlikely to go much further. If you’re someone looking to deploy technology into your business, think about what you are trying to solve, does the potential partner deliver against your business goals… do you know what you want from your IT platforms and partners? if not, remember the spice girls (check out my spice girls blog post!) and how they knew what they wanted, what they really, really wanted.
Oh and something to consider, does it do that without bringing a whole list of new problems?
Does the partner actually deliver something that works?
Now this is not about getting bogged down in the detail (see way to much of that, conversations getting lost in unnecessary technical long grass!), but I do want to see this thing actually delivers a solution that works and is usable and is something that does the thing I need it to and does it better than what I currently do.
As an example, I’ve looked at some storage technologies recently that promise to do some really different stuff, but they lack some of the basic enterprise integration that our customers need to have, so deliver something that works, but not something that works in such a way that makes it to unwieldy to be of use!
Now I’m not saying all the solutions we look at should be easy to use with lovely GUI’s because some solutions that I look at, by their very definition are complex and need to be so to do a complex job.
However, a solution has to fit the user it is aimed at, so don’t give me tools and solutions that make my life more difficult.
Does the partner bring me something that works commercially?
As a solution integrator my view on commercials maybe different from someone who is deploying a solution in their business, but probably not that different…for us, does the solution stack up, is it realistically priced for our customers and of course, is it something we can build a business on, now that doesn’t mean picking the solution we can make the most money on and hopefully for you it doesn’t mean choosing just the cheapest, we’ve seen that go wrong so many times.
None of the solution partners we work with necessarily have the cheapest solutions but we do want partners that deliver the best value.
If you’re a user of tech rather than a provider, it’s important to understand the value of what you are doing – what is it worth to you to solve the problem you have and then invest that money in the right partner with the right solution.
There is nothing more difficult than trying to put together a solution for someone when they don’t have or won’t share their idea of a budget…It means we all just end up wasting time!
I don’t think this matters whichever side of the technology fence you come from, supplier, adviser or user… is the technology partner you are talking to, someone you can do business with, do they give you a level of confidence, are they passionate about their solutions, do they truly believe in what they are sharing with you.
That doesn’t mean if someone leaves a tech company for another that they don’t believe in the company they’ve left..especially tech guys – what it means for me, if they’ve been a good partner with another technology and they have gone elsewhere, Is, I’ll trust that judgement and be really interested in what they have to say about the new technology they represent.
However, what always amazes me when working on a project is the times I’ve come across organisations who change the technology they are advocating at the drop of a hat because they don’t feel their initial technology solution was going to win a customer over… it just makes me think, if the technology you are turning up with now is so good, why didn’t you pitch that first… but that’s probably another post all together!
In the end we buy from and partner with people, if the partner you are dealing with is someone you can work with and they can solve your problem, then go with that.
If you have a good technology partner, then invest in them, share your requirements and what you are trying to achieve and a good partner will be able to bring value and potential solutions, the better you and your partner know each other, the better that relationship will be.
When I look for a technology partner what do I look for?
- Is their technology interesting?
- Does it solve a problem for me?
- Does it actually work?
- Is the partners solution commercially viable?
- Is the partner someone I trust and can do business with?
They’re the key things for me… I’m sure you have your own list, but maybe there are some things there you can add to yours…feel free to share any other criteria that you think would be useful, either in the comments on here or feel free to contact me…
P.s. as a slight aside, as I was putting this together a partner contact of mine posted an article about what vendors want from their partners, I thought it would be interesting to share, so if you want a view from the other side of the fence… have a read here