Industry Voices

The value of business partnerships

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Maintaining a leadership position within the competitive telco space is a challenge, as customer expectations change, the landscape shifts and disrupters emerge.

Navigating that turbulent backdrop requires not just a robust proposition, but also the resilience that comes from strength-in-numbers; specifically, that provided by trusted partners. Never before, then, has it been more-true that the customer experience is at the heart of strong partnerships, given that the end goal of all relationships is delivering value to the customer. This requires collaboration and seamless partnerships: the two, three - or however many parties - need to work side-by-side to meet shared objectives.

Today’s world has been turned upside down in recent years, and enterprises face the challenges of emerging technologies, restricted budgets, mission-critical ICT projects and a hybrid workforce. Therefore, the industry needs to change and become far more collaborative in order to survive. It needs to come together to co-create and co-sell solutions for the future. It is my belief that no one organisation can do that alone.

From a network technology perspective, building out what was an NNI in the past with NPLS network structures is now APIs of the future. Hence why we need to be open to creating that digital environment, that digital mapping between our organisations and enabling that cross-pollination of our products and services across our landscapes. Co-operation, collaboration and co-creation within the partner ecosystem is fundamental to unlocking and amplifying joint value and providing the best of the industry to end-customers.

Of course, challenges can emerge within these relationships, as each partner will have their own way of doing things, whether that’s different internal systems, software, time zones and so on, which means that finding ways of working together that suits all parties, can be a hurdle. As with all relationships, problems can crop up when channels of communication breakdown. That’s why structure, clarity and collaboration are central to keeping the relationship firing on all cylinders. It is imperative that there is clear, structured engagement around opportunities and joint solutions to accelerate customer projects. This means the right resources being put in place early in the process and following blueprints for best practice.

That’s why, perhaps now more than even, long-term relationships are valued more than short-term ones. Building a long-term partnership boils down to innovation and co-creation. From a solutions creation perspective, long-term partners can offer combined services with end-to-end service level agreements, increasing market reach and appeal. Here, jointly incubating new ideas drives the market forward through innovation and helps better serve mutual customers. A long-term relationship also starts to move towards full integration, to see how you can embed one partner’s technology into the other’s portfolios or networks to create scalable technologies.

By way of example, Colt has an over five-year relationship with PacketFabric, with an end-game of enabling it to expand it On Demand Services to new regions. Together we share the same pioneering spirit and, last year, we were excited to be able to offer up the Colt capability as a gateway to Europe for PacketFabric. Colt’s On Demand offering is now directly integrated with PacketFabric’s Network as a Service (NaaS) platform, initially enabling PacketFabric’s enterprise customers to benefit from real-time network connectivity to 100 key data centre locations across Europe.

However, all relationships run the risk of falling apart over time if they’re one-way only. You have to have mutual value and when that exists, it creates a fantastic environment for all parties, particularly for customers. So, when looking for new partners, think about how your organisation can complement another, and vice-versa. How will coming together unlock value?

Just like in personal relationships, a great sign for an effective and longstanding partnership is having shared values. Look at the organisations’ culture and actions on inclusion and diversity, CSR, sustainability, and so on. Those ‘softer’ characteristics can become the hard foundations for partnership success and your ability to work with one another effectively.

At Colt, we’re taking our relationships with hyperscalers, cloud providers and data centre partners to the ‘next level’ because we know that, together, we can work hand-in-hand with other innovators to drive what’s next. We’re also collaborating on inclusion and diversity projects, with our employee network groups joining forces with those of our partners’ to raise awareness on I&D subjects and drive real change in the industry.

Of course, little of this can be achieved single-handedly, and there are great rewards to be shared between partners committed to each other who are united in their goals… to deliver value to the customer.

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