Last month I was in Orlando, presenting in the keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference. At the event, which happens just once a year, key executives from Microsoft and a few selected partners, including Plexure, shared their vision for commercial success in today’s technology-driven world.
There were more than 15,000 attendees at WPC this year; many more people will view content from the conference online.
As anyone who was present can tell you, Microsoft is a company that places significant emphasis and huge value on its partner ecosystem. It has to, of course.
Because Microsoft’s success is built on the strength of its partners’ ability to sell, integrate and service Microsoft products.
Partners turn up at WPC every year to reconnect with Microsoft and with each other and to gain insights that will propel their businesses forward, enabling them to deliver best in class customer results.
More than once last month I found myself thinking about what makes a successful partnership, and what that means for our business.
The most successful and long-lasting partnerships tend to be those perfectly symbiotic relationships that result in equal benefit for each partner.
That kind of business relationship doesn’t happen accidentally.
Successful partners take time to understand each others business and specifically the business model that makes them successful.
On partners and partnering
Contrary to popular belief, successful partnerships aren’t always about shared goals. Business partners often have quite diverse objectives.
The thing that they all share in common, however, is that in the normal course of doing business they generate a significant amount of extra revenue for each other.
If one partner is forced to change their business model too much or if one partner benefits more than the other, then partnerships start to disintegrate.
For this reason it is really important, if you want a long lasting and successful partnership, to ensure that the DNA of your business is completely aligned with the business DNA of your prospective partner.
That’s the main reason people attend WPC, to hear first hand the vision for Microsoft’s business direction and make sure that their business DNA remains successfully aligned to that of their partners.
Last year at WPC 2014 I listened to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talk about his mobile first, cloud first vision for Microsoft.
Seated right up in the nosebleeds it dawned on me that Plexure was already extremely well aligned with Microsoft’s DNA and there was value in pursuing a deeper partnership.
Plexure was, after all, born on the cloud in a mobile first world and we’d been part of that story since day one.
Just one year later I am seated in the front row at WPC 2015 being called onto stage by Scott Guthrie, global head of Azure services, to demonstrate how Plexure partnering with Microsoft is delivering innovation and world-beating results for some of the world’s biggest brands. How did that happen?
In the last 12 months Microsoft have started taking notice of Plexure because the big data processing and storage required to deliver our intelligent personalization to customers have been generating a lot of extra revenue for their flagship cloud service Azure.
In fact the more customers we signed up to the Plexure platform, which is hosted in Azure, the more revenue Microsoft got. With this in mind Microsoft decided it would be a good idea to help us out.
They actually provided us with funding to support our go to market strategy, our sales team and our product roadmap. Microsoft and Plexure both really wanted to find out just how far this partnership could take us.
Since WPC 2014, where the partnership was crystallized, we have won a lot of significant business.
We have signed the world’s largest QSR, the world’s largest convenience chain, the world’s largest brewer, the world’s largest furniture retailer and the world’s largest energy provider.
That’s pretty good going for the first 12 months of a new partnership and we are only just getting started.
Microsoft has helped us open doors because we have proven that our product meets the needs of many of their customers. Not just any customers either.
Microsoft introduces us to their biggest enterprise customers because they are the organizations with the most to gain from intelligently personalizing their customer experience.
They are also the customers with the resources to do it well and the vision to do it now. In their normal course of business, Microsoft sales teams are taking us along to their meetings.
This is leading to significant extra revenue for Plexure and in return we are generating more and more revenue for Microsoft.
Partnering isn’t easy. It requires a huge amount of effort on the part of both companies but it can make an enormous difference to the speed at which each business grows.
Partners with a deep understanding of our DNA can anticipate our needs before we even know they exist.
We can do the same in return and that level of understanding gives us both an advantage that makes for a formidable partnership.