In today’s technology environment, no matter the industry, partnerships have become essential to bring together the skills and expertise needed to solve customers’ increasingly complex needs. For technology companies looking to make a world impact, such partnerships are fundamental to breaking new ground and achieving resilience, on-going growth and business success.
Whenever diverse groups of people come together with a common goal, they pool their knowledge and experiences to make success far more likely. Similarly, when structured correctly, a successful technology partnership allows you to leverage a broader set of skills, networks, resources and information-sharing. This allows you to deliver solutions, distribute responsibility and drive an outcome further than you could ever do on your own.
Forging a partnership is one thing; ensuring that the collaboration is a success is another. To achieve the latter, here are three key aspects to consider.
1. Understand your own organisation’s strengths
The chain of a solution is only as good as its weakest link, as the saying goes. There’s a real power in being able to reflect honestly on your own expertise and what sets you apart, as well as the areas where you’re perhaps not as well-resourced or developed yet. There may be several aspects to your service or project that need to be delivered in a bulletproof manner, but may not be part of your core offering. This is where aligning with a strategic partner is a pragmatic choice. A strong alliance can deliver a long-term meaningful impact for the sector and create an innovative solution for the customer.
For example, at Janison, in order for us to deliver our specialist high-stakes education technology solutions worldwide, we require immense scalability, as well as unshakeable network stability and security. While we were the ones to pioneer the platforms and applications that deliver the exact same online exam experience to students regardless of their location or connectivity, we knew that we needed to ensure aspects such as high-scale and globally distributed hosting to guarantee low latency no matter the customer’s location. So it made sense to team up with Microsoft, whose Azure solution and data centres offer these very capabilities. Microsoft has underpinned several of our world-firsts in online education during the course of our mutual award-winning partnership that’s lasted more than a decade.
2. Ensure that you collaborate with the right partner
Strategic partnerships enable teams to bring the best of their talent and strengths forward. Not only is a shared purpose important, but a clear understanding of how the solution or technology offering supports the challenge you are looking to solve, is critical.
While some solutions can be designed and developed in-house, expertise and efficiency are another factor to consider in providing exceptional standards through a viable solution. This can mean, as it did in our case, identifying a partner who shared our approach of zero-tolerance for errors. This can involve investing time into understanding a potential partner’s system and ensuring they can adapt and fit within your unique IT environments as well as those of your clients.
A result of teaming up with the right partner is that your own capacity soars. For us, partnership with Microsoft meant that we had the stability and scalability to deliver the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) Online assessment to almost one million students in May 2021. At the peak, more than 195,000 students were being tested concurrently on our platform, with more than 32,000 transactions a second – a figure comparable to that of Facebook in Australia and larger than any other online school student assessment globally.
For the same project, because it was at such immense scale, delivered for the Australian government and critical to education, we needed to partner with a leader in the field which had government-grade firewall security and was impermeable. By partnering with Imperva, which for the past seven years has been identified by Gartner as a clear world leader in firewall security, we were able to offer enterprise-grade security via a partner that understands such enormous size and stakes, leaving our team to focus on their core expertise area.
3. Trust and communication is key
Above all else, when working with partnerships, and particularly amid the lightning speeds of change within technology, an emphasis on trust and clear communication between everyone at the table is critical. If you prioritise open, honest, effective and frequent channels of communication, you will safeguard against misaligned expectations and misunderstanding of goals and milestones. This trust is essential especially when working across multiple markets to ensure better results, response times, and outcomes for high-stakes clients where you can’t be directly involved.
The take-away: Technology partnership is like any empowering interpersonal relationship
At the end of the day, working collaboratively with partners is like any successful interpersonal relationship – built on listening, transparency, understanding, willingness to compromise or support the others’ weaknesses for the greater good. It creates a new environment that enables growth, innovative technology development, and for all partners to be greater together than their individual parts.
All of this combined ultimately leads to better outcomes for the customer. So when you look to taking on a partner, it is important that you share common goals, values and respect for each other. This is the key to ensuring that all parties flourish as a result.