The modern broadcast ecosystem is too complex for any one company to serve. We spoke to some of our leading execs about the importance of creating and maintaining partnerships.
To paraphrase John Dunne, no company is an island. While there has been a huge amount of consolidation in the industry over the past two decades, even the very largest corporations find themselves having to create and foster partnerships with other companies in order to adequately serve the market and address increasing broadcast complexity
As a result, these partnerships have become vital to success for any company and are as carefully planned and nurtured as any products or solutions that come to market. We spoke to three of our executives that play a leading role in creating and maintaining VO’s partnerships with other companies throughout the industry, to find out what is involved in the process.
Pierre-Alexandre Bidard, Vice President Partnerships and Security Products Management; Charlotte Jay, Security Partnerships Director; Guy Ashkenazi, TV Platform Partnerships Director
Q: We will start at the beginning. How important are partnerships and the co-innovation they bring to the industry?
Charlotte Jay: Partnerships are vitally important to us and to the industry at many levels. To begin with there is the obvious: we develop software which runs either on physical products such as set-top boxes or in the cloud. The better our integration with the companies that make these products or host these servers the greater benefit to our customers. But the whole industry is like that nowadays. No one company owns it, it is too complex, so we build ecosystems. And when we compete we are not so much competing with individual companies anymore as we are competing with other ecosystems. So, in this respect, choosing the right partners is very important.
Pierre-Alexandre Bidard: From a commercial point of view, we look for companies that are in the same field as us, for example, content security, but are working in different parts of it. That way we complement each other and can create additional value. And it’s when we create that value that people on both sides of the partnerships will help in promoting the other one because it is to their benefit.
CJ: The ‘stickiness' of the collaboration is important too. To what extent does each company in the ecosystem depend, at least partially, on the others, to offer their solution. This can be very beneficial, especially if you identify upfront the companies that will have an impact on the business model in the long run; for example, in the next five years.
Q: Are there any areas of the business where partnerships are more important than others?
PAB: Historically, VO’s first major partnerships were on the device side, in the content security market. As we have expanded what we do though, so the partnerships have expanded as well; we have created new partnerships in the field of content collaboration in recent years that have really helped us gain a strong foothold in this side of the business.
Q: How many partnerships does a company such as VO have?
PAB: All in all we work with over 100 companies. This includes companies from the entire ecosystem: chipset companies, cloud companies, IP companies, CDNs, billing, advertising…the list goes on. As the ecosystems have become more complex, so the number has grown. Out of that 100 we have even higher level partnerships with around 10 companies, and with these companies we have almost daily contact and work hard to develop solutions together.
Q: What are some of the challenges of managing ongoing partnerships?
Guy Ashkenazi: I tend to look at the partnership lifecycle as similar to a project lifecycle or the customer lifecycle. There are many stages and they are all important. We study the market together and, so with that perspective, we tend to really push for a strong sales activity together. On the other hand, where we have a joint solution together, we work with the product team and the marketing team to align our roadmaps and go to market with what the customers are looking for. We also have to consider reselling, support, and if we are working on a joint RFP, we need to work hard to be aligned. There is a lot of trust and a lot of commitment; there are dependencies in terms of timelines that mean that if one of our partners is late to deliver, all of the partnerships across the entire ecosystem will be late. And we all often have to work smoothly with local systems integrators in places such as Latin America. All this needs to be addressed and carefully managed within the partner and project lifecycle. @Atika: You want to mention here that in some instances we act as SIs ourselves?...
PAB: When you have a good maturity with your partner, you can start to see what we call overlap. It’s at this stage that sometimes you can create even more value than before, find angles, mix technologies, and generate something new together. This is happening at the moment in fields such as targeted advertising and with data analytics.
Q: VO is a member of several consortiums and trade bodies, such as the NESTED consortium, VRTogether, and more. How important are these in helping forge partnerships?
CJ: These are usually created in anticipation of potential new technologies, or new approaches, and are looking ahead to an ecosystem forming in three to five years. They necessitate a multidisciplinary, multi-competence, multi-product type approach, and you end up talking with companies that are both competition and partners. But with these projects the rules of the game are pretty clear about what belongs to the community and what is restricted, so each and every company agrees about the outcomes. It's extremely well framed and is a necessary path to be ambitious for future topics. It’s a way to create the seed of what could be a partnership ecosystem when we get to industry deployment.
Q: What are some of the most important areas for VO and its partners in 2022?
PAB: Everything related to cloud is important at the moment. We are in a phase where there are so many different environments, so many different types of cloud deployment, that the companies that will be able to manage all these different environments will have a real advantage in the market. It means that we need to have strong partnerships with the cloud suppliers and cloud technology in general. And luckily, thanks to careful planning we already do and are looking to develop them further in 2022.