Relationships, in business as in marriage, take time, effort and sometimes sacrifice. But to make those relationships work—in good times and bad—how many of your vendors are you willing to say "I do" to?
Strategic alliances aren't a new concept in business. But Joe Gottron, chief information officer for BOK Financial®, said businesses that are pushing the edge with technology, driving transformative business change, must have deeper connections to succeed—internally and externally.
"It's easy to say ‘let's be partners,'" he said. "That's overused. People celebrate alliances until something gets tough, then things are a little different."
It's about partnering beyond the norm, Gottron said. He discussed the intricacies of forming these relationships, and why they're crucial for businesses, in his May 6 webinar, "The Power of Leverage: Extending Your Reach with Collaboration" (recording available below).
Gottron's strong advocacy stems from many years of experience in information technology, on both sides of the collaboration value chain. During his 16-year tenure with IBM, he learned first hand what it felt like to be treated by some clients as a partner, versus what it felt like to be treated as a vendor by others. For those who treated him like an equal collaborator, he worked twice as hard to bring the full portfolio of the company's value-add. This experience has had a big influence on how he has operated leading technology teams over the past two decades.
"Your success really depends on how well you can collaborate. It's about turning those relationships into trusted alliances," Gottron said.
“Of course, we’re not talking about being partners in the legal sense of the term. We remain independent businesses, but understanding each other’s challenges and goals related to the particular business issue at hand helps each party make the best decision for its own operations. A win-win.”
Transforming third-party vendor relationships into strategic alliances can help businesses effectively manage and mitigate risk while also staying ahead of the competitive curve. And they can be particularly beneficial when it comes to technology.
A recent Gartner study found that, "In digital business initiatives, it is increasingly difficult for an individual enterprise to harness all of the capabilities—skills, competencies, or the ability to enter a market or leverage an ecosystem—required for digital business success."
Partnering beyond the norm requires a number of intentional actions that demonstrate a genuine commitment to achieve mutual value, underpinned by mutual trust. It requires a significant investment of time, including personal sacrifices.
For companies looking to transform their business models to compete in the digital age, the importance of true strategic collaboration has shifted from a smart decision to an absolute must, Gottron said.