Four Strategic Differentiators To Look For In Your Digital Partner

Deepak Gupta

There is no doubt that the digital storm has gained enough momentum to start impacting every industry and almost all organizations, big and small. Some organizations are ahead in defining what they want to achieve with digital technologies, while others are still drafting their digital strategy or vision. Regardless of the stage your business is in, the role of a strategic digital partner is key in making your digital vision a reality.

It is important to understand that, just like all business roles are evolving in the digital world, the role of a technology partner needs to evolve. A digital technology partner must bring new capabilities and approaches in tune with the times.

There’s more to selecting a digital partner than its solution capabilities, like product features, real-time performance, integrated solutions, and analytics capabilities. You should also consider these four strategic differentiators that define a strong digital partner.

Industry breadth

Not just industry depth, which helps address the uniqueness of a business, but a strategic digital partner also needs to have an understanding and presence in multiple industries. Why? As industry boundaries blur (e.g., UPS enters distributed manufacturing, Google makes a car, Under Armour targets healthcare), a strategic, long-term digital partner can help your business innovate with cross-industry collaborations and define future practices. In the hyper-connected digital world, the ability to connect new cross-industry business partners will determine the speed of innovation and ultimately the growth of a company.

Open ecosystem

Innovation is important, but the speed at which a business innovates is equally important, especially in digital times. Because no business can do everything independently, an open ecosystem to leverage the power of the best brains on the planet is key to success in digital innovation. An open ecosystem is what makes Google and Apple so successful. That’s why the digital partner’s approach and strategy matter. The underlying technology platform for your business must enable agile innovation by startups and other specialist partners to help your business innovate at speed.

Embedded security

Openness creates security challenges, which are further complicated as more “things” are connected at the edge of the network. This is why it is paramount for your digital partner to provide solutions or platforms that have architecturally embedded security that is also easy to use (e.g., single sign on, biometrics, etc.) to run your business in a secure environment.

Total cost of ownership

In order to avoid immediate costs, many businesses take a short-term view when selecting their technology partner. The digital world is about connectivity and agility. Therefore, to keep your ownership costs down in the medium to long term, it is important to ask these questions before selecting your digital partner:

  • Will I have to build custom interfaces (read: complicate my landscape) to create new digital scenarios by connecting applications?
  • Do I have deployment flexibility (cloud, on premises, or hybrid) depending on how my business (or regulations) evolves?
  • Does my digital partner have enough industry depth in its solutions to minimize custom development for my business?

From your experience, what do you think companies should look for in their strategic digital partners? Post your comments and feedback below.

For more on why security is not just an internal priority, see The Future of Cybersecurity: Trust as Competitive Advantage.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Deepak Gupta

About Deepak Gupta

Deepak Gupta is Director of Innovation and Value at SAP France. He is helping manufacturing companies achieve their '"digital vision to value" journey by closely collaborating with chief and senior executives to reimagine business models, processes, and work.