Collaboration drives creativity because innovation always emerges from a series of sparks – never a single flash of insight.
- Ken Sawyer
Recently we wrote an article entitled Thoughts on Collaborative Commerce … Elephants Can Dance. The premise of this article was how businesses and organizations can avoid being shackled to their past by utilizing collaborative commerce and business alliances.
Our discussions with many companies led us to these conclusions. Ask most companies and they will tell you why they’ve given up trying to do everything themselves. It has to do with decision making speed, speed to market, faster expertise, business growth and expansion, and risk reduction.
In today’s article, we examine business alliances that are representative of collaborative commerce and are great examples of how to grow your business by working with other businesses.
Three kinds of business alliances you should consider are:
Channel changers, market enablers, and symbiotic relationships
Channel changers are the type of alliances that give you additional ways to access your customers … they open up new channels to your customer base or new prospects. They usually involve integrating your products or services with those of supply chain partners and are almost always mutually beneficial.
Sometimes, though, you might not be looking for a new channel. You might just be looking for a way to test new e-commerce technologies without assuming too much risk. In that case you should consider the market enabler alliance.
A market enabler alliance gives you a capability you don’t already have, nor necessarily have the expertise to invent yourself. That might mean licensing the technology and putting your own brand on it. You could just as easily offer it as a stand-alone service alongside your own product and services.
The product or service you gain from a market enabler alliance might end up being a hit in the marketplace. But if not, the knowledge you gained by selling and servicing it has good value in itself. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment with new things in beta arrangements with customers who also like to try new products and services. You can learn a great deal in beta trials.
Along with knowledge gained, market enabler alliances also help to minimize risk in the areas of emerging technologies.
Perhaps the easiest, but still quite fruitful, potential alliance is built on symbiotic business relationships. Look for businesses around you that could benefit from what your business offers and vice versa. Find win-win ways to take advantage of these relationships. We recently saw a billboard ad for two businesses built around a common goal … proper eating habits for better health. The two businesses? A dentist office and a farmers market for fresh vegetables … a great symbiotic relationship example.
Start thinking on business alliances with your growth objectives in mind, and then prioritize the ideas you wish to test first.
Please share a story or two from your business alliance experience.
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