Digital Strategies Roundtable

Managing the Changing Tech Partner Landscape

October 5, 2018
Schaan, Liechtenstein - Hosted by Hilti

The landscape of technology companies continues to change rapidly, and with it where and how a large global organization gets its information technology capabilities.  The tech vendor community is no longer dominated by a few large providers, except in a couple almost monopolistic circumstances. Many highly impactful capabilities are offered by a growing number of smaller companies—and large enterprises are adding digital innovation labs to create internal capabilities. Microsolutions, web services, offerings through APIs, etc. describe some of the proliferation of tech capabilities created by smaller companies or internally.

This has had a big impact on how we acquire technology capabilities, as it is no longer just about purchasing or leasing, but increasingly about platforms, partnerships, venture setups or funding startups, digital foundries/labs, or buying companies either for their technologies or as acqui-hires. Different categories of technology vendors need to be addressed, from hardware or software vendors (big and small), to ecosystem partners helping create services or bundles, and the orchestration of multiple vendors yet still one face to the customer. This is not only a challenge for IT, but also a new way of operating for the procurement and legal functions, regardless of who the end user group in the company is. An additional complexity arises if the company also has a separate digital function or unit. Engaging the possibilities of these new avenues requires more innovative thinking, different mechanisms and processes to succeed, and an ability to understand and adapt culturally to working with partners that operate very differently.. We will address these challenges by discussing questions such as:


  • What is your view of the tech partner landscape? How has it changed in the last three years? What are your challenges and how are you addressing them?

  • How do you scan the market to identify new players? Is there still an explicit or implicit hierarchy of vendor relationships based on size? How does the variety of vendors change the dynamics of procurement? Are you contracting differently with different groups?

  • Is vendor behavior/approach towards IT functions changing with the growing demand of digital directly by all parts of a business? Are they bypassing IT even more and approaching digital/other functions directly. If so, how do you manage this challenge?

  • Are vendors offering new models for partnering (e.g. build jointly and share royalties of future sale)? What are the key differentiators between well established traditional players vs upcoming new startups/players?

  • How are you addressing the seeming fact that it’s the smaller nimbler players that are coming up with great niche solutions addressing specific needs—and yet it’s hard to integrate them together, have them understand the internal challenges of corporates, and now manage so many relationships?

  • Do we expect the vendor field to work together? Will larger (“strategic”) vendors introduce or partner to embrace microsolutions that complement or replace part of what they offer? Do you believe that the large traditional players can get into niche/digital domains with the appetite to invest? Or will they continue to indulge in their traditional revenue models and processes and thus not be flexible/nimble and create impact?

  • What creative and novel approaches are you trying to get the best possible solutions to address your needs in the digital landscape?

  • As data becomes more and more central to the value your company can create, are you sharing data with partners to collaborate with them? What data? How are you thinking about data ownership with partners? Are you considering monetizing data with creative sharing? If so, how?

  • How is your vendor/partner/3rd-party selection and vetting process changing? How does this impact procurement/purchasing?

  • How are you protecting yourself by vetting 3rd-parties you deal with for their information security posture? Is this especially a problem with smaller companies that have less ability to invest in information security? How do you address this?

How are your talent needs in IT and/or procurement changing to deal with this very different partner landscape?