By Jeff Roska
In a previous article we introduced the concept of a Joint Solution Development approach. Collaboration, partnership, and trust are the foundation of that process.
In today’s business landscape, those attributes can be difficult to find. Business relationships today are transactional and short-lived in a “what have you done for me lately” culture. It can be difficult to build a business relationship on characteristics like loyalty, trust, and perseverance.
So how does a manufacturer go about finding and choosing the right technology partner? For a Joint Solution Development approach to be successful, the manufacturer should look for the following attributes.
Asks questions and listens
As the manufacturer meets with potential technology partners and outlines the project, they should pay careful attention to whether or not the potential partner is listening.
Are they asking well-considered, intelligent questions, or are they pitching their own capabilities? Are they learning about your end customer, or are they proposing potential solutions based on incomplete information? Understanding the manufacturer’s strengths and gaps will help both sides determine if there is a fit.
A good technology partner will ask questions like:
- What are the strategic objectives of this product?
- What are the pain points of your current solution that this needs to solve?
- How can we give you a competitive advantage?
If a manufacturer selects a technology partner that does not ask questions and listen, its technology partner may just guess at a decision point, which would result in unforeseen delays and added costs in the development cycle.
If a technology partner does not truly understand the key differentiators of the manufacturer, it may recommend technology that is not a good fit and may harm the manufacturer product’s marketing approach.
Is eager to share information
The right partner will act as a guide, sharing their knowledge openly, as opposed to withholding it. An inferior technology partner will hold information hostage in an attempt to assert superiority and limit a manufacturer’s independence.
If a technology partner is not sharing openly sharing relevant information, it could lead to delays during development and a poor final solution.
Conversely, the right technology partner will openly share relevant information and exchange knowledge. They will seek to thoroughly understand the hardware and software skills of the manufacturer team and will use this as a jumping-off point to share their expertise in a collaborative way, using their knowledge to augment that of the manufacturer.
Complements your strengths
Manufacturers and technology manufacturers have different core competencies. The technology partner should complement the manufacturer’s strengths, not duplicate them, and vice versa.
A good example of this is would in regulatory certifications. It may not be feasible for a manufacturer to have its engineering resources stay up to date on all of the worldwide changes in various certification requirements. That is where the knowledge and expertise of the right technology partner can complement the manufacturer. This frees up the manufacturer’s engineers to stay focused on the key parts of the manufacturer’s product.
Here are some questions to ask when evaluating partner fit:
- Is the manufacturer building the kind of end product that aligns with a candidate partner’s compute solution?
- Where do the strengths of the partner fit into the manufacturer’s gaps?
- Can the partner provide the necessary emerging technology, research, or development?
- Is the potential partner experienced enough to handle and build solutions to complex compute problems?
The manufacturer’s partner must not only be willing to collaborate—they must put collaboration front and center, with the goal of working together to achieve the same objective.
The technology partner should operate as an extension of the manufacturer’s team, never as an adversary. Acting as an extension of the team, the right technology partner will naturally fill any gaps of knowledge, expertise, or resources. Collaborating in this manner will embody each of the characteristics listed above.
A great technology partner is trained to support manufacturers in this customer-first approach. This partner will listen and seek to understand its customers’ unique products. This team will also be eager to share information, and their experience and expertise will complement their customers’ own skills and strengths.