7. Discovering Your Strategic Partner Is No Longer Strategic
Relationships are funny things. You may be inseparable through college, but drift apart and find after a few years when you reconnect you have nothing to say to each other. Happy couples that love each other may go through major life changes that with no malicious intent can change the balance of the relationship.
Technology companies buy different technology from each other. Hardware companies need software, while software companies need hardware and other software to operate. Without major outside change, such strategic technology partnerships can last for decades.
Cloud Transformation as a Major Life Change
Cloud Transformation cascades in ways you often don't expect, including to your strategic partnerships. While moving from data center to the cloud, you may find you no longer buy that much hardware anymore. You may change your tooling to different vendors. You may no longer need network routers or firewall equipment to the same extent.
Unless your strategic partner was on that journey with you, you may find that you have drifted apart and no longer have much to say to each other. The partner may be going through their own transformation, but into a solution area that doesn't appeal to you. The balance of mutual spend might change, as your requirements and expectations may have.
Your partner may be utterly unprepared for that.
“Explore Ways to Help Solve For Your Initiatives”
We recently had an executive meeting with a long-time strategic partner. As usual, we had prepared an agenda in advance and shared our key priorities, approaches and challenges around managing the security of a large and fast growing Multicloud landscape.
The partner proceeded to present a vision that did not respond to that at all, but treated us as if we were still the software company of old, rather than the cloud company we are today. Suffice to say, the presentation did not resonate. It was barely coherent, given our priorities.
But we've been partners for years. There is a relationship. Nobody wants to start trouble. So you nod and politely close the conversation, and agree to a few high level action items.
Then the notes for the meeting arrive, with a reasonable summary of our priorities, followed by a proposal to explore ways to help solve for your initiatives through their product portfolio.
Our plans for 2023 are already established. Execution is already underway. We didn't expect you to solve for anything.
It's Not You, It's Me
How do you explain to a loved one you need to work through something yourself, even though they want to help? Maybe your little nephew offers to help finish your college work. Maybe you'd rather have another friend help you with more expertise in the area. Maybe you just want to figure it out yourself.
Thanks for the offer, but we just don't have enough shared experience for you to be helpful.
Cloud Transformation is hard enough within a single large organization. Change hits teams at different times and different business functions move at different speed. If not even everybody in your own organization fully grasps that you have changed, it is even harder for strategic partners to understand that.
If we are to keep a relationship alive after a life change, we need to adjust to the new reality and recognize that something has changed. We can still be friends, if we find a new balance. But if you insist on treating me the same way as before, this is not going to work out.
We need couple's therapy...
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