Together, they can offer something compelling and unique to customers - delivering greater value through their combined offering in a far simpler way. In fact, software companies who have not been able to embrace the ecosystem are being left behind by the fintech trailblazers in the market. This is where the next wave of growth will come from - through the orchestration of the fintech and services ecosystem to create compelling and value propositions. Two of the industry's most recognised ecosystem specialists share their top six tips on how to build and scale a global partnership between the two darlings of fintech.
Ben Snowman is VP Partnerships & Advisory at Mambu and Elliott Haralambous is Director of Global Ecosystems at Backbase.
Tip 1: Intent isn't enough, solve real customer problems
Partnerships are cemented by the relative focus and investment of both parties - but intent is not enough. Working together should solve a tangible, business problem for your shared customers. "If you need 20 minutes to explain to your customers, what is the value that your organisation and your other partners bring - it's likely that the partnership is not solving an impactful enough problem," Elliott outlines. Ben adds to this, "Solving the target architecture is great, but at the highest order it must be clear - what is the one plus one equals three?"
Tip 2: Keep the proposition simple
When launching a new joint proposition, it is easy for concepts and ideas to overtake the need for simple, seamless execution. The first step forward must be simple and incisive. "Keep it simple, focus on one use case and make sure it is technically simple and, ideally, you are able to back it up with a live customer example," Ben notes. Elliott agrees, "It is important to keep things simple because you need field teams to grasp the concept quickly, get excited and be able to sell it. Simplicity wins, every time."
Tip 3: Launch in pilot markets
Launching a partnership is complicated - technically, organisationally and commercially. This means you need a way of creating momentum, to test the proposition and working relationship, in a controlled manner. Ben notes, "The best thing to do is to start in two markets - you pipe clean the joint sales motion and can A/B test, then apply learnings and get ready for scale, confidently." Elliott adds, "There are so many unknowns when you launch so you need to be patient and find, then fix, all the issues which you can never anticipate - this is classic lean startup." In short, all global partnerships are executed in a region. Without a clearly defined strategy, the chances of failure only increase.
Tip 4: Build business champions early
Like with every change, for it to be adopted, the organisation needs to be aligned. Launching a new partnership is not the sole responsibility of a partnerships team. It requires sales, marketing, legal, presales, business development, technology, product - the list goes on - to be aligned and fully committed. "This is one of the reasons that you have to start small - fewer people to align, and when they are aligned, you can really get momentum", Ben says, from his experience of managing a network of nearly 1,000 partners across the globe. Elliott adds, "You need executive alignment from the start because you have to start with the vision - partnerships like this need to be sponsored by a CxO - but also have real advocates championing the partnership, otherwise you risk becoming nothing more than a strategy on a page."
Tip 5: Look at leading indicators
In high growth businesses, revenue is the main metric which is followed by the board. When it comes to partnerships, leading indicators are the early signs of success. Ben notes, "We always look at the change in velocity of lead generation to see if a partnership will be successful; this is because sales cycles can take months and we must maintain our pace of execution and decision making." Elliott adds that, "You know, fairly early on, whether a partnership will be successful or not. One of the key metrics I always apply is how quickly you can assemble a joint opportunity team, from both organisations, to serve customer demand. In short, the quick pipeline wins you can get from on the ground collaboration that is supported by lead generation focus."
Tip 6: Scale, and scale fast
Once you have key results, it is time to scale. The evidence you have through opportunity collaboration, lead generation KPIs plus the lessons learned from aligning the organisation are a sure recipe for success. Ben says, “There comes a point where there is no reason to keep the breaks on - you have to go wherever your ambition takes you." Elliott adds, "As two global companies coming together, we have customers in more than 50 countries, so the barriers to entry are relatively low - once the engine is on, you just need to drive and scale in the right direction."