Filip Milinković

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Digital Transformation & Innovation Ep. 3: Partnerships — The Business of the 21st Century

Digital Transformation & Innovation Ep. 3: Partnerships — The Business of the 21st Century

Are you ready for a ride?

The age of big cruisers is over. Titanic has sunk deep down and it’s time to embrace smaller and more diverse fleets. And when I say more diverse fleets, I don’t mean racial or gender diversity. I’m talking about diversity in expertise and background. I’m talking about partnerships.

Partnerships are the foundation of business in the 21st century, especially in the tech industry. We all know how a partnership with another tech company can help one improve their stack and work towards common goals, which is natural and good, but we seem to forget that most crucial partnerships are one with traditional industries.

“But, but, they don’t even know the difference between relational and No-SQL databases. They have never heard of Node.Js and they think that GIT is just another fancy word.”

And you probably don’t know the difference between different banking products and the processes behind them. But that’s okay and that’s natural. So for that reason, we partner up. We group to form stronger entities.

New partnership showcase: Apple & Goldman Sachs

Well, well, well… Apple is a back once again to try and conquer the payment industry. What is different this time? They are not alone. Apple has partnered with a New York investment bank giant and now they are ready to ride. I won’t spend time in this article speaking about the solution itself, you can watch the event video yourself, I will rather use an opening paragraph of fantastic Bloomberg Apple’s Credit Card Gives Goldman Sachs Rare Customer Role article, just to give you the feel of what’s going on.

“Apple Inc. launched a credit card last month, hoping to upend a $175 billion industry much like it did the phone business. At a splashy event, the company made a simple sales pitch and showed off the titanium product in a slick video. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook called it the “most significant change” to cards in 50 years.” — Mark Gurman and Jennifer Surane

Let’s see what is really going on here. We have two multi-billion businesses trying to enter the consumer payment industry. Everyone here is going with their own knowledge and resources to fill the gap of the other. Goldman Sachs main value to Apple is to fix the problems that they were not able to address properly with Apple Pay and that are disputes. As David Deninzon, Vijay D’Silva, and Rohit Sood from McKinsey explained:

Exhibit 1. Source: Payment disputes in banking: A pathway to deeper customer relationships — McKinsey & Company
“Globally, customers continue to move away from cash and checks toward electronic payments (Exhibit 1). Overall, this trend is a positive development for banks and card issuers, but as card transactions grow, so does the number of disputable transactions (and the incidence of fraud), putting pressure on dispute processes that often are already overextended, and leading to increasesi operating costs of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

In the article above we can see that the main benefit of handling disputes properly are strengthened trust with users, lower operating costs and overall better quality of service. All important aspects of overall company success and customer satisfaction so it’s easy to see why Apple choose a partner that can address these issues better than them in their new payment venture.

Many may wonder now why Goldman Sachs choose Apple as their partner of choice for their entrance in the payment market. What is the value of Apple to Goldman Sachs, it’s quite easy users. And not just the ordinary users, but a loyal user base that’s already in Apple ecosystem for years and years… Apple has it. They have the users, they the ecosystem, they have the infrastructure. Not just in the U.S. but around the world. For me, this is proof of the right partnership between the right companies, filling the right gaps. This is how business should look like in 2019.

Sadly we still have a lot of companies sitting alone in their thinking boots, startups raising a ton of money trying to do everything by himself, and all of this is contributing to the number we all know and fear and that is a 90% of startups eventually failing.

What should companies do then?

My proposal is: build your partners network based on the mutual value you share. Be like Apple. Own the ecosystem. It doesn’t need to be a technological ecosystem, but the ecosystem of value. Gather partners around the same idea, the same value — and encourage them to share knowledge and resources. As Tod Kunsman said in his article The Art of Knowledge Sharing: A Necessity for Your Company Success on EvryoneSocial:

“Having a knowledge army of experts will only benefit your business for the foreseeable future and give you a leg-up on competitors who lag behind in this area.”

In his article, he was talking about individual companies sharing knowledge among employees, but I encourage you to find partners with whom you could share knowledge and fight the market battle together.

Partnerships make us stronger; partnerships make us better; partnerships make tech companies more innovative.

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