Why Partnerships Are Essential to the Future of Your Business

We are entering a new age of frictionless business, one where partnerships are essential. To keep adding value in a dynamic world, organizations must harness the power of microservices and blockchain trends, trading in their old silos for vibrant, thriving ecosystems.

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These are revolutionary times. The way we add value is changing at the conceptual level. A bright new future is at the gates, driven by fundamental forces that every modern business must understand in order to remain relevant in tomorrow’s world.

Technology is accelerating, disrupting traditional business models. The digital revolution is increasing connectivity worldwide and creating new opportunities in every industry, as explained in Accenture’s Technology Vision for 2018. Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence allow us to know more than ever before, to do more than we ever dreamed possible. And that’s all happening today. Can you imagine what tomorrow will bring?

Can you imagine what tomorrow will bring?

This dizzying pace of progress is not lost on consumers, either. Their expectations are evolving, becoming liquid. Delightful customer experiences in one industry now set the standard by which all others are judged. If Booking.com can do it, if Apple and Amazon can do it, why should they accept any less elsewhere?

In this dynamic, technology-driven future, the burden of delivering memorable, industry-defining value propositions can be a heavy one, indeed. Which is all the more reason not to bear it alone.

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Innovative Ecosystems Breed Exciting Opportunities

From a Dutch consumer’s perspective, bol.com is the proverbial horn of plenty. The e-commerce giant provides everything from books and office supplies to clothing and jewelry. Even furniture is just a click away. But does that mean those products are all sitting in a bol.com warehouse somewhere?

Technology Vision 2018 - Trend 4 - Frictionless Business - AccentureFar from it. Instead of following traditional retail paradigms, the company decided to become a platform and allow partners to plug into their value proposition. This strategy provides clear benefits to all parties involved. Partners get to align themselves with a respected brand and gain access to an established logistics network while consumers get to choose from a wider variety of products and can rely on coordinated customer service. In the meantime, bol.com gets to expand its presence in the market without having to invest heavily to do so, projecting an aura of effortless omnipresence.

As consumer needs evolve and innovative technologies disrupt traditional value chains, these strategic partnerships will become an essential ingredient in maintaining your organization’s competitive edge. Our research reveals that 36% of businesses are now working with at least twice as many partners as they were just two years ago. This trend will only continue to pick up steam in 2018 and beyond.

Trends in Microservices and Blockchain Are Here to Help

To see just how much potential a robust ecosystem can unlock, one need only look at Amazon Alexa. Consumers interact with the Echo, which gives them the ability to order products, access information, play music and operate smart home hardware, among other things. But the real magic happens behind the scenes. Amazon has set up its cloud-based voice service to facilitate collaboration with a wide range of partners, encouraging developers to build Alexa-enabled products.

Technology Vision 2018 - Trend Four - Frictionless Business Illustration - Accenture

This example paints a clear picture of the future. In the old world, siloed application architecture was the norm. Sharing and scaling followed tightly controlled paths. In the New, partnerships are key to survival. Weaving the unique strengths of those partners into a common value chain requires modular, accessible architecture: an open environment that facilitates connections instead of limiting them.

This might seem like a barrier at first, especially if your business relies heavily on legacy architecture, but microservices and blockchain offer viable paths to transformation. The former will foster agility and enable rapid integration with a multitude of partners. The latter will provide a foundation of trust for the business relationships you build and allow you to establish a framework of smart contracts within your end-to-end value chain.

Culture Will Become Your Greatest Asset

Microservices and blockchain technologies will prove to be critical enablers for the partnerships and ecosystems of the future, but they are not goals in and of themselves. They are tools – valuable and versatile tools, but tools nonetheless. 

To wield them effectively, you will naturally need to cultivate new skills and capabilities throughout all levels of your organization. But most of all, you will need to cultivate an environment in which these tools have a reason to exist in the first place. That means building a culture where pursuing partnerships and utilizing Agile methodologies makes sense on an intuitive level.

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This goes beyond top-down and bottom-up perspectives – your ability to embrace partnerships derives from the heart of your company, from your mindset and your vision. You need to realize that collaboration is a two-way street, one that leads to new ideas, new value, new customers and new business.

You Don’t Have to Grow It Alone

There was a time when being a trailblazer meant striking out into the wilderness solo. We still have a romanticized view of the lone explorer, going where nobody has gone before through singular force of will and ingenuity. In business, however, that outlook has become a liability. A needless limitation of your potential. Soloing the entire value chain isn’t a heroic journey – it’s a road to obsolescence.Technology Vision 2018 - Trend 4 - Frictionless Business Statistics - by Accenture

In an increasingly dynamic and digital world, one where innovation and disruption feed off each other constantly, no single organization can deliver all the value. Doing what you do best is only half of the solution. As a business, you must make connections and strive for synergy, using cutting-edge tools to identify, develop and deliver next-gen value.

Fortunately, embracing frictionless business will leave you in excellent company. Already, 60% of executives believe that blockchain and smart contracts will be essential to their bottom line over the next three years. That doesn’t leave much time for hesitation, but why wait anyway? The partners that will help you corner new markets are already out there, working on their piece of the puzzle. All you need to do is join forces.

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Get inspired and learn what the Technology Vision 2018 trends can mean for your future business. Sign up for an exciting and meaningful deep dive at Accenture’s NanoLab in Heerlen. Please contact Kelly Claessens for more info.

Author: Martijn Smit