The Indian IT segment is a strong USD 150+Billion Industry, with approximately USD 100 Billion of it coming from exports / global market. Over the past 25+ years, the industry has matured significantly, though it only became mainstream in the past 15 years and has evolved through multiple phases. It currently partners with many Global 1000 companies and has several mega relationships built over the years.
The top 5 Indian IT companies, as of the quarter ending March 2015, have 223 relationships which are each worth 50+M per annum. The number has grown from 172 to 223, 30% increase over the previous 2 years – a very strong and credible growth. A partner relationship of such significance grows over time – some over a long period of time. Having been involved in creating, nurturing and developing many such relationships across industries and geographies, I believe the following 7 tenets are key to make a relationship grow:
• Relevancy is the most important currency for any relationship. In ever-changing times, it is critical to stay relevant if relationships are to stay fresh and vibrant. The IT industry is ever-evolving and time-tested relationships which have evolved can be traced with these changes. Customers’ businesses are always evolving and dealing with new opportunities and challenges, and likewise they need partners who will not only walk with them but also provide new, contextual and innovative ideas and solutions. Today, it is equally important to provide services related to digital, cloud, analytics, etc., as it is to connect the dots and embrace the future as market segments open and opportunities arise for businesses. Stay Relevant!
• Agility: companies partner to increase their momentum and velocity. A relationship developed over time can certainly increase the agility of business quotient for customers. New product launches, new markets addressal, business processes optimization, significant cost take out, transformation delivery, merger and demerger alignment, etc. are several avenues where partners have increased customers’ agility. This is key to long term growth and success. Be Agile!
• Business value is the cornerstone of any long term partnership. Delivering business value is key to quantify, and must be properly and continuously communicated to all stakeholders. Connecting the dots from technologies, processes, IT, etc. to business is where the magic happens. At the end, what can be quantified and measured brings everyone in sync and on the same page. Relationships built on strong foundations with clearly articulated value across executive and operating levels go a long way in ensuring healthy and successful partnerships. Measure and Communicate Business Value!
• Trust is as important in any long term relationship as the premise on which the partnership was formed. Trust between partners must be built and earned inch by inch and day by day by demonstrating commitment to hard and soft deliverables. Trust matters in resolving open issues. Build Trust!
• Bilateral wins: there must be joint wins, successes, pride and honor for all sides in a long term partnership. Over time, not only are customers’ successes paramount and key, but it is equally important to ensure the same for service providers as well. Significant relationships must anchor new thoughts, ideas, seed a new business line, etc. to ensure that the scale of operations should not become a detriment. Long-term and strategic customers are equally interested in investing and creating value for service providers. Leverage Bilateral Wins!
• Leadership matters. People who can dream, take charge and deliver always take a central role in growing a long term partnership. A relationship which has grown over a number of years must certainly have had great leaders on both sides who actualized visions and demonstrated actions to build a growth partnership. Invest in and create Leaders!
• Cultural alignment is often an overlooked aspect, yet it clearly plays a pivotal part in any long-term relationship. A partnership that grows over time must ensure consistent and continuous focus on cultural aspects of the relationship at all levels of engagement. No two organizations are culturally the same as each has its own character, identity, processes, etc. Nor do cultures remain fixed, as happens with a change in leadership. A relationship which spans years has certainly stood the test of time in managing cultural alignment!
A very clear and informative article. Would just like to share a recent example. A change in leadership which was not relevant with the organisation’s culture has resulted in loss of trust. Most stakeholders cut down their relationships. Even it caused inner turmoil to its own employees. Atlast the top management realised and they brought in additional leaders to win back their customers and strive for less attrition. It was a great challenge for the new leaders. But it took a long time to achieve their goal.