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Orchestrating an Ecosystem of Business Partners

By Shu Yong and Liu Zebin Partner & Alliance Management, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Digital transformation will present the greatest opportunities for many industries over the next five to ten years, and business ecosystems will be powerful tools used to seize those opportunities. During their transformation efforts, major players are building solution-centric ecosystems that maximize the advantages of collaboration for the purpose of gaining a significant edge in their respective markets.

In the face of converged production systems and ICT solutions, customers are heavily investing in new ICT platforms that depend on the complexities of the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data. As a result, a robust business and technical ecosystem will be a customer’s most important factor in choosing a supplier.

Channel Policy Maximizes Partner Opportunities

Huawei focuses on providing customers with innovative, differentiated, and leading ICT hardware and software. In the face of complex requirements and changing markets, Huawei works with partners to help customers address challenges arising from digital transformation to achieve business success.

Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group (EBG) continuously invests in ecosystem development to maximize the skills of partners and expand their markets. The EBG program orchestrates a regenerative community that shares common interests. EBG does this by promoting ecosystem awareness and cooperation within each of its internal organizations, from R&D to marketing, sales, delivery, and service. This ensures that all employees recognize the significance of the family of partners who have chosen to join forces with Huawei.

Streamlining Internal Processes to Support Ecosystem Development

To build a robust ecosystem with partners, Huawei has taken these five key measures:

  • Determine open cooperation strategies. The EBG and its product lines formulate and refresh partner and alliance strategies every year in order to plan ecosystem development, operationalize annual business plans for solution ecosystems and alliance partners, and use strategies and business plans to drive open cooperation.
  • Streamline partner and alliance management systems. Huawei has established the Partner Executive Committee (PEC), which authorizes decisions on corporate-level alliances, ecosystem strategies, policies, and business development. It also makes appropriate decisions based on partner levels to simplify decision making for partners. With the PEC’s authorization, the EBG further classifies partners and clarifies management mechanisms from headquarters to frontline departments to facilitate hierarchical partner management.
  • Build the ‘Manage Alliance Relationship’ (MAR) process. The MAR streamlines R&D, marketing, sales, delivery, and service activities to incorporate partner businesses in Huawei’s primary service flows. With the MAR process, partners can easily join Huawei’s ecosystem, obtain support from Huawei’s R&D teams, and develop and roll out high-value solutions on Huawei’s platforms. The MAR process also connects partners to Huawei’s marketing and sales organizations.
  • Improve ecosystem organizations. The EBG has assigned experienced managers and employees to set up the Alliance & Solution Cooperation Department. With the development of partner services, the EBG has built OpenLabs in many regions. An OpenLab consists of joint innovation, partner development, solution development, and industry experience centers. R&D, testing, and cooperation experts are scheduled to support the OpenLabs operations. OpenLabs aggregate quality resources in target markets and industries and develop joint solutions with industry-leading customers and players to expand the market and build a robust ecosystem. By doing so, OpenLabs enable partners to jointly develop truly innovative solutions, verify the solutions, and implement them.
  • Continuously optimize partner-oriented IT systems and tools. A ‘Partners’ section is available on the Huawei Enterprise website (e.huawei.com/en/partner), where prospective associates can join the EBG Channel Partner Program and interact with Huawei online. The Partners section also provides a marketplace platform for solution partners to exhibit joint initiatives and integration capabilities.

Focusing on Customer Needs to Build an Innovative Ecosystem

While streamlining internal processes, Huawei’s EBG has also explored ecosystem development models. The goal of the ecosystem program is to achieve multi-win situations among customers, partners, and Huawei.

An innovative ecosystem is a collaborative mechanism for jointly developing customer-centric solutions. Such an ecosystem creates substantial value that cannot be achieved by a single enterprise, which is why any ecosystem jointly orchestrated by Huawei and its partners comprises the following:

  • Joint Huawei/partner developer platforms. Huawei organizes customer requirements, interacts with partners, and develops open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to transform partners’ creative ideas into reality.
  • Industry-oriented solutions. By focusing on the ‘5 + 1’ industries (government/public safety, finance, transportation, energy, and manufacturing plus telecommunications), the EBG works with partners to build industry solutions tailored to customer needs.
  • Customer-centric ecosystem. Huawei’s EBG analyzes the industry chains of key customers and works with partners and customers. For example, regarding banks and automobile manufacturing companies, the EBG works jointly with consulting companies, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), and software outsourcers.

Managing Each Ecosystem for Maximum Advantage

For ecosystem business development, Huawei manages an ecosystem to maximize a partner’s advantages and profits. Ecosystems are like a unified business, with full lifecycle service activities, from strategic planning to Go-to-Market (GTM).

Each ecosystem has its own features, and Huawei’s role varies accordingly. Some ecosystems are dominated by Huawei as the ‘conference moderator.’ In other ecosystems, Huawei is a ‘participant’only.

When serving as conference moderator, Huawei manages partner interaction, ecosystem rules, and other behaviors. When operating as a participant, Huawei uses its open platforms and interfaces to support ecosystem activities.

The Safe City ecosystem is an example that consists of alliance partners, such as Hexagon, a leading global IT solutions provider, and a variety of regional ISVs and Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs). Huawei leads its Safe City partners in the search for market opportunities and rewards the most active partners with greater exposure to new opportunities. As conference moderator, Huawei invites U.S. experts to conduct enablement training sessions that include industry-leading ecosystem governance and operations methodologies.

Meeting Core Needs for Rapid Growth with Partners

After years of experience and research, Huawei recognizes that satisfying partners’ core needs is the foundation of ecosystem success. This core needs lie in the improvement of business profitability. Large-company partners prefer to improve their own brand, marketing, and solution capabilities for long-term revenue growth. Small-company partners focus primarily on Return-On-Investment (ROI) and short-term market/brand benefits. Huawei teams with large-size solutions partners to leverage the expertise of all parties, improve our competitive edge, and better serve customers.

By analyzing the core needs of large- and small-size solutions partners, Huawei’s EBG has built differentiated cooperation models:

  • For large-size solutions partners, such as Accenture, SAP, and Hexagon, the EBG assigns dedicated alliance managers to cultivate cooperation opportunities in the enterprise domain; streamline two-party policies; manage alliance relationships; implement two-way interconnections between R&D, marketing, sales, and service representatives; establish dedicated alliance foundations; and invest in the incubation, GTM, and market exploration of joint solutions.

The Huawei and Hexagon team is a model to consider. By engaging a dedicated alliance manager, the two parties have rapidly built the world’s first visualized and converged command center solution. The center enables active prevention before an incident, rapid response during one, and precise investigation afterwards.

  • For small- and medium-size solution partners, the EBG has launched its enterprise business solution partner program, which covers Safe City, finance, transportation, electric power, and other industries. On Huawei’s EBG website, interested parties can join the Enterprise Solution Partner program and register with an industry solution. Partners can then obtain online and nearby technical, testing, integration, and verification support from Huawei’s global OpenLabs. Huawei also exhibits the verified solutions on its marketplace platform for its customers and channel partners.
  • Huawei’s EBG also actively listens to partners. For example, when a partner submitted an improvement suggestion regarding Huawei’s platform interfaces and response, Huawei quickly organized the EBG’s solution service team and IT R&D team to conduct several rounds of discussions, perform retrospections, figure out the final solution, and improve Huawei’s response to partner issues and R&D information transparency.

By the end of 2016, Huawei’s EBG had cooperated with more than 400 solutions partners, including SAP, Accenture, Hexagon, Infosys, Thales, Sobey, and Yusys Technologies. Cooperation domains include Safe Cities, omni-channel banking, digital railway, better-connected grids, and omnimedia. The EBG invited partners to deliver keynote speeches and exhibit solutions at Huawei’s 500 marketing campaigns worldwide. In addition, Huawei set up a dedicated joint marketing fund amounting to USD 50 million to drive campaigns with partners.

A Future with Multi-Ecosystem Collaborative Operations

In line with its customer-centric strategy, Huawei will continue to orchestrate win-win, sustainable ecosystems as well as constantly improve ecosystem governance and operations capabilities. Today, Huawei is starting to build a unified IT platform for partners to perform end-to-end business interactions with Huawei online. Meanwhile, Huawei will continue to engage in collaborative operations of multiple ecosystems and join capability-building activities in external ecosystems.

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