Non-traditional partners to pursue innovative opportunties

I was asked to moderate this year’s Alliance Executive Roundtable for the California Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals around the topic Cross-Sector Innovation and the Role of Alliances.   Twenty-four senior alliance executives attended representing the who’s who in technology: Capgemini, Cisco, Emerson, eMeter, Google, HP, IBM, IDC, Intel, Marketo, NetSuite, Novell, Oracle, PWC, Riverbed, Saba, Success Factors, Symantec, VKernal and VMware.

The discussion revolved around some highly transformational solutions combining not just technologies but industry expertise that is poised to change the social and economic landscape we live in.  Is this grandiose?  I don’t think so when you look at where technology has taken us and the fusion of technologies happening today.

2011 is the year in which many emerging technologies go mainstream: mobile apps, cloud computing, social networking are combining to create new consumer experiences.  More over these technologies are merging with the knowledge base of other sectors – health care for example.  Your doctor can monitor your pacemaker from his smart phone and could give you a jumpstart through a mobile application should he/she expect you are having a heart attack. This is not science fiction this is an application under development.

The GPS system in my car can actually notify me when there is traffic snarl ahead and give me directions to reroute. It wouldn’t be a leap at all for it to notify my family, that I am going to be late for dinner.

What does this world of complete connectedness mean?  For one, it certainly means technologies need to be better integrated, but there is on the horizon an enormous opportunity for innovation. What becomes possible now that wasn’t before?  What new partnerships does this opportunity demand?

One of the executives noted that while much of the good partnering practices are the same, they are even more important when they sit down with a leader from another industry sector in the utility industry, or healthcare, or building construction.  Technology partners have spent years of building a common experience in partnering, so we implicitly know how to interact.  But it becomes a new world of experience in these cross-sector alliances.

“You have light bulb and water meter companies sitting next to an IT company – both need to take big breaths during the discussions. Sometimes the solution is obvious to both groups, but you need to get beyond Sr. Execs positioning brands.  Need to try and find common ground by finding the “crazies” that can see beyond and will keep pushing for the vision.”

Read more about the challenges of cross-sector partnering and the perfect storm in the white paper written from the roundtable discussion: Cross Sector Innovation and the Role of Alliances.