Over the past 5 years I have heard many vendors and clients talk about partnerships and that the real value of being a partner is in the ability to help the client innovate.
The challenge though is that in today’s buying/procurement model, when you bring an innovation to a client it is often then shopped around. I remember having many conversations with Procurement Managers who would actually say this to you and then you would respond "what about my IP … what about our partnership to innovate".
Innovation truely is the key to a partnership as the vendor often brings insights that only occur from their vantage point. I have also seen it the other way around, where in a conversation or the way a client brings up a problem helps the vendor innovate.
In initial research on this topic I ran across a Podcast by John Seely Brown from the SuperNova 2005 conference. He brings up some interesting points and points of view around the difference in supplier/partner methods by Japan automotive manufacturers versus Detroit automotive manufacturers. I can not do justice to the way he discusses it so here is a link to his Podcast, but first I will highlight a couple of points:
- Modulated System – Cost View
- Long-term relationship with vendors who push back at each level with productive friction, to look at innovation in product improvement and cost reduction.
- Client can walk through supplier and nail down an understanding of their cost and ideas on how to improve it.
- Top-Down System – Price focus
- Supplier dis-encented to provide feedback as it will be shopped around
- Lowest price on widget not on right solution
- Creation of Ecosystems
- not supply chain only
There are many other items in regards to offshoring for various industries based on more than price arbitrage. So take a listen, I will also endeavour to get an interview with John more focused on our topics. John Seely Brown @ SuperNova 2005