Rivals as partners

There’s an interesting article today in the Wall Street Journal demonstrating why certain companies partner with rivals for certain initiatives. Usually, this is something unheard of, but it is now quite common in business circles. The more recent ones are: Univision and ABC, Microsoft and Yahoo, Nokia and Microsoft, Instagram which was bought by Facebook (subtle rivals, if you think of Facebook as one giant album) …. and so many more.

Technology brings about fluidity and increased pace everywhere in business. From business deals that are conceived and executed in less than 24 hours, to building a marketing strategy in a matter of days, to identifying targeted consumer attitude and perceptions in a matter of minutes. Nowadays, partnerships are necessary in order to thrive.

One of the benefits of partnering with a rival is the efficiency that can result by leveraging resources and key attributes of each party. Both sides can stand to benefit by partnering with the other in the first place. Initially, you might think that there is a conflict of interest since if they are indeed rivals, they would guard every and any advantage over their competitor with all their might. Yet rival partnerships can both offer and capitalize on each other’s brand and influence, creating a partnership that is bigger than the individual companies. The ABC/Univision partnership could help attract acculturated individuals of Hispanic descent– those who prefer English-language programs catered to the Hispanic audience. This gives ABC an opportunity to understand deeper the Hispanic audience.  Univision, being a Hispanic network, can broaden it’s reach through this partnership with ABC. Both share in the brand equity of the other, two big players in the wonderful world of television.

The article cites “innovation” as one of the main reasons for rival partnership. This could proved to be true since many companies see themselves as leaders and trendsetters in their industry; constant innovation is a given. Since everyone is trying to find answers to questions, stronger camaraderie and history of partnership between rivals, it makes for a more fun (and productive) way to figure things out together.

Partnerships make for a dynamic competitive environment– you are not just competitors in one area, you are also partners in another arena. This would help companies respect one another in the marketplace since rivalry is not a dichotomy, there are wide, gray areas of partnerships.

At the end of the day, business is still business and there are several restrictions to make sure all companies are secure and pertinent data are contained as necessary. Yet if faced with the opportunity to connect seemingly opposing parties together, who knows what product can be conceived, what operations can be made efficient, what offerings can be wrought for the public?

In this day and age, partnerships are important when planned and executed solidly. Furthermore, as the world moves toward a more globalized working environment, partnerships with local companies and communities are especially key to understanding a region and its people, as well as the intricacies intertwined in the environment, culture and its history.

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