What is a technology partnership? How is one created? What are the indicators of success? Why bother dissecting this topic, quite simply, smart and well executed technology partnerships – and I will focus on the WordPress platform and greater web ecosystem – can in the short term boost revenue, advance domain expertise, and create opportunities in new markets.
What is a Technology Partnership?
In the simplest of definitions: a technology partnership is an agreement between two technical vendors to share and/or integrate technologies for the benefit of their own customers or to create a greater solution that can appeal to new customers. The technologies involved can be myriad. There are hosting companies, SaaS providers, theme and plugin developers, application developers (e.g. mobile), and open source projects that are often already vendors of each others tools and solutions.
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How is a Technology Partnership Created?
Technology Partnerships can be driven by technical or revenue decision makers. Often the first step is just creating that customer-vendor relationship with a tool that may offer greater technical or market opportunities. From the technical perspective, the customer may be resource constrained or lacking in expertise to develop new tools or solutions. This really is the easiest way into a technology partnership.
A great example of a technology partnership comes from the hosting marketplace. Perfect Dashboard was a company specializing in automatic WordPress updates (core, plugins, and themes – and yes WordPress now supports native automatic updates but two years ago this didn’t exist) – as well as visual regression testing to achieve greater confidence in the automated update process. Perfect Dashboard was recognized in the consumer marketplace as a valuable tool and was integrated in a number of hosting offerings. As a hosting company you would want to offer this kind of solution not only because your customers may pay more but it also allows you to reduce support issues and intrusion vectors (you can see how over the last two years many hosts have developed in our solutions to this problem). So spend two years to build this or create a technology partnership – or in this case, WP Engine acquired Perfect Dashboard.
Let’s look at an example of expanding your market where you may never be inclined to develop the solution. Convesio created a partnership with spam and bot abuse prevention firm Human Presence. This is a decidedly market driven partnership to bolster the brand and expertise around running a managed WordPress host. It’s the kind of partnership which shows advanced thinking and a unique value proposition to the types of clients they are seeking to attract. The benefit to Human Presence is quite similar in that they are seen working with advanced hosts.
I think the following markets, in no particular order, are great to look at for technology partnerships:
What Makes a Technology Partnership Successful?
WordPress VIP has been growing its technology partners at a high rate of speed this year. I would definitely examine the types of technology that are relevant to their platform and integrate into your planning. HubSpot, which has many technology partnerships underneath its belt, has a great top 10 list rundown of What Makes a Great Technology Partnership: “For the agency looking to grow and provide clients with the robust, complex solutions they need, partnering with other capable technology providers may be your best bet.” This is mostly geared at agencies but very applicable to technology vendors. I would tweak it to add a few items:
- Have specific KPI for revenue and market share
- Have metrics for community growth around the new solution
- Plan for dedicated product owners on both side of the partnership
- Coordinate internally across departments and plan to scale
- Data data data
At the end of the day, technology partnerships are strategic partnerships that will effect the state of your technology and market perception.