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Channel Matters Blog > May 2011 > Alliances are Hot!

Alliances are Hot!

by William Vanderbilt
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The concept of 'alliance' has existed for as long as businesses have existed.  The word alliance can mean many things to many different people, but generally it involves two or more organizations working together for a specific purpose.  That specific purpose will vary between alliances.  Typically an agreement is put in place to identify the purpose of the alliance and the "gives" and "gets" to each organization in the alliance.

Many technology companies seem to be returning to the idea of alliances to promote their goods and services.  Alliances differs from a traditional reseller channel relationship where resellers are engaged and paid to sell the products and services of another.  In an alliance relationship, the two companies may work together, but the outcomes sought from the relationship are not always just about selling a single product or service.Alliances are formed for joint technology benefits, sales and marketing benefits, or other mutual business benefits, and often for a combination of these reasons.

In the technology world, alliance relationships seem to be on the increase. Alliances are not new to this arena, but they do seem to be increasing their value in many organizations.  Perhaps that is because many companies have been forced to do more with less as a result of the recent economic crisis.  As these organizations attempt to get off to a strong start in what seems to be a growing economy, they aren't able to get all of the things done that they would like using just their own resources; so alliances provide a means to leverage the resources of other organizations.

But just because an alliance is formed does not mean that it will produce the results that both sides require.  For an alliance to be successful, it should be governed by an agreement that spells out matters such as the goals and objectives of both organizations, the roles and responsibilities and the measurement and communications systems that will be used to monitor the alliance.  Structuring a comprehensive alliance agreement can be difficult work.  But if time and effort is not invested at the beginning, the alliance is much less likely to produce the results that both organizations seek.

What is your view?  Are you seeing more interest in alliances?  Why?  What success factors have you seen as important in alliances producing results?

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