The importance of collaboration and strategic partnerships
By Marc Wilson, Co-founder and Senior Vice President, Global Partnerships and Industries at Appian
Friday, 22 March, 2019
How can strategic partnerships create better value and user experiences when it comes to technology?
Appian is in the business of helping organisations fundamentally transform how they operate by giving them a platform to rapidly create powerful applications. These applications are almost always forward-thinking and involve not just software changes, but business changes as well. Real change is always a combination of both. Our partners work and collaborate with us to help our customers with both technical and corporate change. And the rate of both technical and business change is happening at lightning speed these days. So, our partners are key to helping customers innovate faster by helping them understand how to leverage Appian to transform their business.
Appian’s strategic partnerships also provide a current and fresh perspective from the field — they maintain relationships with the C-Suite and help us keep a finger on the pulse of the business concerns our customers face. This informs our product direction and helps us focus on customer success — which is foundational to Appian’s mission.
What do you think makes for a successful partnership in the technology space?
We consider partners an extension of our team here at Appian and believe the core attributes that define a successful team also make for a successful partnership. It starts with communication. It’s important to provide multiple channels of communication that ensure open, two-way sharing of thoughts, opinions, best practices; what’s going well and where the partnership can improve.
Communication is essential to working together efficiently and ensuring that everyone understands the goals and objectives so we’re working in lockstep on behalf of the customer. We work towards having a shared vision and a clear understanding of how each organisation will benefit from the partnership. Open communications also enable speed of execution, which is critical for success in the technology space.
Our goal is to make our customers feel confident that they’re working with a well-established, cohesive team that they can count on to see the project through to completion. A team that’s there for them to work through any issues and is invested in their ongoing success after a project has gone live. It’s about a long-term relationship between Appian, our partners, and our customers.
What are the challenges and benefits of working with partners?
We appreciate that building a partnership takes a significant investment — from both organisations. Time, energy, resources, and faith that the investment will pay off over time. Gaining mindshare and commitment at the beginning of a partnership is especially challenging until you have a joint success you can point to and replicate. Time-to-market pressures make it difficult to take the time you need to build consensus and gain agreement on your approach. The short-term goals and interests of each organisation are often at odds with what’s best for building a long-term partnership.
That said, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Successful partnerships allow organisations to draw on each other’s strengths and grow business together quickly and efficiently. The ability to leverage partner resources, subject matter expertise and innovation is a competitive advantage. Maintaining deep partnerships offers customer choice and stability. We’ve found that the best way to rapidly grow, meet market demand and serve customers globally, and maintain profitability is through partnering.
How is the decision made between adding on a new solution/service in-house, or leveraging a new partnership instead?
The two criteria we look at prior to investing in a new solution or service vs a partnership is time to market and alignment with our core business model. If partnering means we’re able to address customer business needs faster and offer customers a better solution, then we’d prefer to invest in a partnership. It’s better for the customer and generally ensures repeatability and scalability. Then we look at alignment with our business model. Appian is focused on continuing to invest in our low-code platform to speed delivery of powerful business applications. Our platform is ideal for strategic partners to develop go-to-market offerings focused on business transformation. We look to our partners to provide business consulting, vertical expertise, and expert delivery resources while we focus on delivering the best app development platform in the industry.
Can you talk through an example where Appian has overcome a customer challenge with the help of a partner?
There are so many great examples of partners helping customers leverage Appian to transform their business, it’s tough to pick just one. One of the most important things our partners provide is strategic guidance on how to implement a whole new approach to business transformation. Rather than taking the traditional approach to deploying massive technology projects, organisations need to think like IT companies and adopt rapid, agile ways of applying new technology with an eye on incremental changes that they can quickly benefit from and easily replicate across an organisation. Appian enables a fast, almost seamless way to introduce new, modern business applications that allow our customers to respond to market demand and reinvent their business, without ripping and replacing their legacy systems. Our partners provide guidance at the C-suite to help drive the cultural shift to a tech company mindset, and they benefit from Appian’s unique approach to unifying process, data, collaboration, and mobility to deliver intelligent automation.
One recent example is the Appian Intelligent Contact Center™ Platform — a cloud platform tailored to the unique needs of contact centre teams. The platform inherits all of the core attributes of the Appian platform for building omni-channel customer engagement, case management, and intelligent automation solutions in a low-code development environment. In addition, it provides native and integrated artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and a host of strategic technology partnerships specific to the needs of the contact centre.
Appian has created a strong ecosystem of strategic technology partnerships to support the Intelligent Contact Center today and into the future. Partnerships with key industry players Genesys, Twilio, and Temasys bring additional capabilities that allow customer service teams to leverage their existing investments in those omni-channel communication and customer experience technologies.
David Williams, Head of BPM at our customer, Target Group, said, “We deliver and run contact centre solutions for many of the largest financial services institutions in the world. By using Appian, we achieved an 80% reduction in customer service processing time through a custom remediation program solution that we built and delivered in just 2 weeks.”
What type of companies does Appian look to partner with? Why?
We partner with a variety of organisations — business consulting firms, value added resellers, and complementary technology companies. When we evaluate a company for a partnership, we first determine how the relationship will serve our customers. Can this organisation provide business consulting and guidance to customers to help them successfully transform their business? Do they have the expertise to deliver exceptional business applications and solutions to customers, stand behind their work and their practitioners, and are they willing to invest in guaranteeing excellence? Do they maintain strong customer relationships with the line of business user and C-suite? Can they offer local service and support to ensure customers have a touchpoint and allow us to extend our customer relationships — and represent Appian in the best light possible? We’re selective about partners and want to ensure they represent Appian’s core values — which is customer satisfaction above all else. Our A-Score program measures partners’ Appian knowledge, skill, and customer satisfaction so our customers can be confident when selecting an Appian partner to work with.
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