How tech alliances drive business results

Platform partners can help a company’s tech vendors play better together

  • As organizations rely more heavily on cloud services, technology decisions are becoming more strategic
  • Getting tech vendors working seamlessly with one another is a key success factor
  • Platform partners can slash cycle times by testing integrations before each release

Recently, one of our customers described a new organizational mandate that senior executives work together to make strategic technology purchasing decisions. That new directive brought relief by reducing duplicative efforts among business functions. In turn, this reduced complexity and costs.

This is a trend I’ve seen in many conversations with ServiceNow customers. Across industries, companies are consolidating technology platforms and providers to create efficiencies and cut costs like never before. As they rely more heavily on SaaS, technology decisions are becoming more strategic. Often, they are being made at significantly higher levels of the organization.

This trend is welcome because virtually every organization is a software company nowadays, with nearly all underlying operations enabled by technology systems. The more processes that executives can convert into automated workflows, the greater the benefits throughout the organization.
Getting there starts with company-wide mandates to consolidate software portfolios and standardize on a small number of strategic technology platforms. The other critical requirement is to get technology vendors to work seamlessly with one another.

Here are three ways to create winning partnerships between vendors.

1. Take advantage of native innovations

I spent years in a global tech company’s IT organization. It sometimes felt as if we spent more time building custom integrations between our systems than creating new functionalities that moved the business forward. To support business workflows, we needed to stitch together systems and data to present an easy-to-use interface for our end users, many of whom were not technologically savvy.
I worked at one company where an entire team was dedicated to managing a database that consolidated and normalized data from myriad sources and offered a customized, “best of” view to feed into the company’s service management system.

There’s an easier way. Imagine if your platform partners instead offered native integrations that allowed users to share data and take action from one system to another, reducing the “swivel chair” effect from team to team.

IT developers could focus more on capabilities that provide a competitive edge. To that end, ServiceNow shares the integrations we build with our customers. Great platform partners don’t focus on just building data pipelines and “plumbing” integrations. They also listen to their mutual customers and build joint solutions whose value is greater than the sum of their parts.

2. Reduce risk, boost visibility

In the traditional IT world, upgrading software systems, even SaaS offerings, often takes weeks or months, because of the time required to update custom integration code and test each new version of the code.

Platform partners can slash cycle times by testing and validating outside integrations and data pipelines before each release, so customers can focus on user testing and release management. By certifying integrations, customers reduce risk, because they know they will stand behind the work and offer support when needed.

Great platform partners can also provide a rich set of end-user and administrator training and documentation to ease the transition to new software versions. That reduces the risk of human error when setting up new applications and tools. CIOs, in turn, gain much-needed visibility into end-to-end workflows.

3. Slash costs

Companies waste a lot of money every year because their solutions don’t mesh well. They also face opportunity costs in building integrations on their own. When developers spend too many cycles writing custom integrations, they can’t focus on more strategic priorities.

When platform partners maintain joint solutions, customers often see cost reductions in the total cost of ownership for both technologies. Their partners can provide joint training and support and can reduce friction in the sales cycle by working together to understand and solve customer challenges.

Strategic technology partners spend a lot of time doing just that. At ServiceNow, we began building technical integrations with Microsoft almost five years before announcing a strategic alliance. Customer feedback and requests kick-started the effort.

As a customer making increasingly larger bets on a smaller number of strategic platform partners, you have the power to influence them to create solutions that meet your needs. In doing so, they’ll deliver joint solutions that accelerate innovation, reduce corporate risk and save a lot of money along the way.