Don’t Go it Alone: How a Strong Partner Ecosystem Can Help Businesses Effectively Navigate Crisis

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Over the last year, businesses have undergone some radical changes in overall operations. Navigating a time of crisis, like that of the coronavirus pandemic, means businesses are tightening budgets, turning to digital solutions to handle remote work, and prioritizing more than ever speed and efficiency in their software purchases.

Ensuring you have the right digital channels in place to guide customers along their journey is a good start. However, to draw customers in even more, companies need a strong partner ecosystem. Bringing in partners gives businesses an added edge by helping them differentiate their solutions and expand their reach across markets. Having these partnerships allows B2B organizations to meet customer’s specific needs – clearly demonstrating value and providing a reliable experience. Here are a few ways a strong partner ecosystem combined with effective use of online tools gives B2B businesses added agility with their solutions as well as a broader potential to bring in a wider range of customers in the long run.

Couple Powerful Search with Partner Offerings
Recent data from McKinsey shows that a majority of B2B companies have changed their buying habits in favor of digital tools. These businesses are conducting much more in-depth research as they look for new enterprise software solutions, and applications to extend those solutions.

Supplier websites need to be easily navigable with robust search functions that quickly bring forth what customers need and clearly highlight each offering’s value add, while also weaving in relevant partner offerings as a means of solving new challenges customers may be facing. As organizations conduct their research, highlighting just one solution can be incredibly limiting and fails to show the full breadth of what a provider and its partner network truly have to offer. Giving customers as much information, especially around existing partner offerings, is an important component in building and maintaining strong customer relationships and providing an experience they trust.

Meet Rapidly Changing Business Needs
COVID-19 is driving deep change across enterprise organizations. As the pandemic carries on, businesses are increasingly focused on solutions tailored to meet their unique budgetary and operational needs. Earlier this year, when shutdowns in the U.S. were first being put into place, Harvard Business Review noted that companies leveraging partnerships were creating what they call an ‘ecosystem advantage’ to further create and capture value. A partner network is crucial, especially in the B2B world, to how a company not only survives, but succeeds during periods of upheaval.

For example, many companies this year have not only needed to adapt operations, but in some cases completely pivot production to support the needs of the healthcare sector. In response to shortages of medical equipment due to the outbreak of the pandemic, Woodbridge Foam retooled its manufacturing facilities to make personal protective equipment (PPE) and other vital medical supplies. To accomplish this quickly, keep up with the changing business need and ensure safety compliance, Woodbridge leveraged the Enterprise Health & Safety app from Sodales – an SAP partner with offerings easily available on the SAP App Center digital marketplace.

Expanding into new markets
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages to building a deep partner ecosystem is the ability to branch out into new, broader markets. Businesses can add functionality to their own offerings that expands reach across industries and brings in capabilities as customers need them to address new challenges or support new initiatives. Not only are partners able to offer unique solutions that build on a company’s initial offering, but strong partner ecosystems also bring the added benefit of multiple locations. Having a partner in another country or region that may be outside of where the B2B enterprise operates can help them get better attuned to the needs of that market and increase visibility by associating with an established brand in that area. At a time where the software market is increasingly crowded, and budget strains continue, being able to cast as wide a net as possible is an effective method of driving better business outcomes.

Partnerships will Power the Future
As we near the end of 2020, there does seem to be a bit of a false sense of security that the new year means the pandemic, and the issues caused by it, will be over. As much as we can hope this might happen, we need to be prepared for the changes we’re experiencing now to endure for some time. Organizations needs are rapidly altering as organizations look to cut costs and eliminate redundancies throughout their operations. Solutions need to have proven value and need to be able to adapt.

The ‘ecosystem advantage’ is proving itself more and more, with partner networks serving as effective and valuable assets during the current climate. Partners are uniquely positioned to compliment a company’s offerings adding more flexibility, credibility, and overall reach to the existing business strategy.

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