The rise of partnering – much more than marketing spin

07 August 2012 | David James


More and more carriers are using the terms ‘partner’, ‘partnering’ and ‘partnership’ to describe virtually every relationship they have with other organisations.

Suppliers, customers, government departments, investors, charities and collaborators all seem to have become partners. While it is tempting to see this change in terminology as marketing spin, there are important differences between carriers’ relationships with their partners and other types of relationships they have with external organisations.

Effective partnering relationships are significantly closer and deeper than the typical commercial relationships that carriers pursue with their vendors and suppliers.

Partnering with organisations with complementary capabilities enables wholesalers to launch new services, enter new markets and develop new skills that would have been more expensive, complex, time-consuming or risky to attempt alone. Through cooperation and collaboration with established organisations, wholesalers can broaden their portfolios, extend their reach and enhance their ability to meet their customers’ needs.

We expect more carriers to work closely with ‘supplier partners’ to develop new products and services for their intermediary customers that neither partner could deliver alone. By combining the technical capabilities of equipment suppliers and the wholesalers’ market knowledge, the partners can assemble an offer that is more likely to succeed in the market.

Many intermediaries who buy wholesale services are too small or niche for larger wholesalers to identify or serve economically. Instead we are seeing the rise of ‘channel partners’, such as resellers, distributors and sub-wholesalers, who aggregate the demand from multiple intermediaries. These channel partners extend the wholesalers’ potential market and add value to their services to target otherwise difficult to reach niches.

Carriers are also establishing close relationships with a variety of ‘collaborative partners’ to combine their complementary capabilities to develop integrated offers in response to fast-changing market needs.

Although every partnering arrangement is unique, with different participants, different objectives and different markets, there are real benefits to organisations willing to invest time and resources into developing close, cooperative relationships with a carefully selected range of partners.

David James is a principal analyst of wholesale telecoms at Ovum.
He can be contacted at:
david.james@ovum.com