Everyone is a winner through strong partnerships
Few companies thrive in isolation. It is well known that through partnerships and collaborations you can achieve more positive results and deliver a higher degree of value to your customers by letting different partners contribute with what they do best. Working with a diverse and complementary set of suppliers, technical and commercial partners allows you to focus on your core competencies without diluting the power of your products and services.
Ideally, you want to create a genuine Win-Win scenario where you collaborate with a network of trusted partners whilst driving deeper relationships with customers. This might sound good in theory, but how does it work in practice?
In this paper, we will look at:
- Beijer Electronics’ approach to partnerships
- How to ensure long-term customer commitment
- The challenges in partnering up with other organizations
- The future for Beijer Electronics and partnerships
How partnerships have evolved at Beijer Electronics
Beijer Electronics started operations in 1981. Over the years, the company have grown from being primarily known as an HMI provider, to being able to offer a wider range of solutions within automation and digitalization.
Increasingly, Beijer Electronics’ mission has been to bridge the gap between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), ensuring customers benefit from a new ecosystem of industrial automation experts.
Partnerships have always formed a fundamental part of Beijer Electronics’ commitment to customers, but the term ‘partner’ is a broad one. There are partners that supply goods and technologies, partners that are part of the manufacturing process and partners that help with systems integration and technical development. Alongside a network of value-added distributors who maintain customer relationships, Beijer Electronics can operate in territories where they do not have local representation.
In the last two years, Beijer Electronics have placed a stronger emphasis on adding new strategic relationships. This is a process that involves identifying the company’s own capabilities and then looking at the market needs. Which partners will help to optimize the overall offering? What are the main challenges for customers? What can be achieved together to overcome those challenges?
A key takeaway for Beijer Electronics has been the realization that a different type of partner might be needed. To truly deliver value, the company has had to redefine where they are today in order to work towards new solutions that meet the demands of the future market.
The impact of digital transformation
Historically, Beijer Electronics has been set up to fulfil the requirements of machine builders. But with the onset of the digital age, the focus is starting to shift to different stakeholders.
What is happening now is that the demands of the business owners have increased, wanting to boost revenues, streamline processes and generate efficiencies across their whole organization.
For example, a common problem is that there is often a disconnect between the OT and IT sides of a business. The CEO of a company tells the CIO “we need to digitize the factory”, but there is often a knowledge gap when it comes to the operational processes and capabilities.
And as more companies undergo digital transformation, Beijer Electronics have started looking to IT partners as well as OT partners to try to solve those fundamental problems.
How to forge ideal partnerships - and set up a “Win-Win”
One of the best ways to ensure a productive partnership is to find common ground. By identifying joint clients or mutual areas of interest, you can start to provide ‘proof of concept’ solutions that demonstrate immediate value for your customer.
Different types of viable partner are emerging all the time. If an OT provider like Beijer Electronics can work alongside cloud solutions, systems integrators - even change management consultants - it means it is possible to dive deeper into a customer’s challenges and build more meaningful relationships.
In the last two years, Beijer Electronics has developed several partnerships specifically designed to help customers bridge that gap between the operational and IT sides of their business:
Microsoft: Last year, Beijer Electronics developed a ‘co-selling’ program with Microsoft centered around their ‘Azure’ cloud solution. With Beijer delivering an OT solution for clients by retrieving data from the factory floor, Microsoft can host it in the cloud and combine it with data from other sources. Together, it is possible to deliver the full solution to solve challenges for the customer. The partnership also provides opportunities for mutual lead generation. Result: Win-Win.
Enfo: Enfo are experts in IT systems integration. They can apply predictive maintenance data from individual machines to benefit the whole organization. Machine maintenance has historically had to be planned according to a calendar schedule, but by working with Beijer Electronics, Enfo’s solutions can plug in real usage data, generating efficiencies across the factory floor. By retrieving the data from the individual machines through Beijer Electronics solutions, Enfo process the data to deliver value to the end customer. Result: Win-Win.
What are the challenges in partnering up with other organizations?
The Beijer Electronics mission has always been around “making the complex simple” and having diverse partnerships can threaten that simplicity.
More partnerships also mean a new kind of business model. Beijer Electronics have worked with machine builders for more than 30 years but trying to incorporate strategic demands from business owners can create additional layers of complexity. So, a key challenge is to try to ensure any new partnership is mutually beneficial from the outset, focusing on how to maximize the customer value.
By starting small and identifying common goals, you can develop a combined solution that can be replicated and scaled-up when required.
There are other challenges around revenue-sharing and ‘ownership’ of the customer: What are they buying and who are they buying it from? In the past, it has been common practice for one partner to ‘own’ the customer, but in this new ecosystem, nobody owns anyone, instead it is a dynamic relationship. A customer’s need is fulfilled collaboratively and holistically. For this to be successful, transparency is crucial - and is what generates value for the customer.
The future for Beijer Electronics and partnerships
Partnerships for Beijer Electronics in the future are mainly about achieving connectivity in a digital world. Partners will all have complementary solutions that add something new, and they will all help to create bespoke and holistic solutions that drive deeper relationships with customers. Increasingly, that means seeking out compatibility, rather than standalone, innovative solutions.
Customers require peace of mind that any product from Beijer Electronics will work within their own system architecture. Through the partnership network, the company will be able deliver assurances that the products and services are flexible enough to fit in with any customer’s set-up or strategy.
For Beijer Electronics to achieve the goal of joining together the worlds of OT and IT, a re-evaluation of what a partner network looks like was needed, as well as an understanding of how to approach new collaborations.
Last year, Beijer Electronics launched a strategy called “People & Technology. Connected” - which encapsulates the company’s attitude to partnerships perfectly. The goal is to build long-lasting relationships and to learn from people and build solutions together. This means being honest about your own capabilities and not trying to be all things to all people. But, instead, looking to others to fill in the gaps and make your solution the best it can possibly be.
In that way Beijer Electronics can be part of an industrial automation ecosystem that is beneficial to every stakeholder within an organization.
Head of Business Development