COMPANIES ENTER INTO ALLIANCE relationships to realize the potential embodied by the mutual value proposition. Unleashing this potential typically involves initiatives that combine your company’s assets (e.g., intellectual property, domain expertise) with your partner’s assets into a joint offer that you take to market. The challenge is how to realize the potential of collaborative initiatives, consistently and repeatedly, without wasting time, energy, or money. It was this challenge that Russ Cobb, vice president of marketing and alliances for Cary, N.C.–based business analytics software giant SAS, was looking to address when he began to articulate a new vision for how the company qualified, prioritized, and executed initiatives
Fortunately for the alliance management team, the corporate culture at SAS provided plenty of potential upside for the new PTM-based alliance approach. with alliance partners for co-developed and co-marketed products, collaborative solutions, and other joint go-tomarket offerings. Cobb was looking to more effectively align alliance initiatives with the company’s marketing objectives and achieve best in class partner impact, based on IDC’s definition of 35 percent of company revenues associated with partners. Achieving this level of impact meant placing bigger bets and engaging in more strategic efforts—a challenge for SAS for several reasons, including too many ill-defined, ineffectively governed partner initiatives within its portfolio and the lack of a cohesive framework for evaluating the trade-offs between competing opportunities. Cobb sought to instill a mind-set and roadmap that would help qualify and develop these alliance endeavors in a way that would put SAS and partner sales teams in the best position to execute.
Over the course of 2006 (when the vision was established) and 2007 (when the process was developed and initially rolled out), Cobb and his team set about bringing this vision to life. They unveiled the result in 2008, a set of practices based on the RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) model for delegating roles and responsibilities called the Path to Market (PTM) initiatives. “PTMs are our vehicle for getting to scale and proactively working with partners on repeatable opportunities to maximize revenues,” said Cobb.
Imposing Order and Structure on Alliances When Cobb began his mission, SAS lacked a formal and consistent approach to qualifying partner initiatives. Identification and pursuit of new initiatives with either new or existing partners was done informally and tactically. It wasn’t a portfolio approach. “At that time, an overwhelming majority of revenues was very opportunistic with partners,” said Donna Peek, CSAP, global senior program manager of alliances at SAS. “There were not a lot of strategic repeatable initiatives in place.” Account executives previously engaged partners on a tactical, one-off basis. For example, if a SAS account executive was selling SAS Marketing Automation in an account where one partner was dominant, the AE would seek to tactically engage that partner to close this one deal.
INVESTMENT STRATEGY: HOW SAS MANAGES THE PORTFOLIO 2007
Portfolio management ■ Rudimentary reporting and tracking ■ Formal quarterly reviews ■ Established performance standards ■ Orion designators ■
Stakeholder buy-in ■ Qualification and approval process rollout ■ Inventory ■ Internal training ■ Compensation plan ■
Vision established RACI framework
ASAG announced ■ Validation and launch process rollout ■ Formalized reporting ■ Launch checkpoints ■ Monthly “AMFM” checkpoints ■
Source: SAS Alliance | Path to Market
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The magazine of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals