Alliance Best Practice recently ran a series of Alliance Executive Forums (AEFs) in both Europe and the US. The latest cycle of these meetings has just taken place in London and Cupertino respectively. At both meetings attendees highlighted the problems that the recent: credit crunch / recession / budget freeze / slowdown (take your pick!) has had on their alliance activities. The problem was probably best summed up by a 20 year experienced alliance executive (VP Global Alliances) who said:
“Strategic Alliances are high maintenance. They are incredibly valuable and in some cases critical to our business but they rely on a high degree of business ‘intimacy’. That means that we have to have deep working relationships with these partners. However, the current economic climate and the travel freezes that most of the major organisations have imposed are making it nearly impossible to maintain these close working relationships. If something isn’t done soon many of our critical relationships will deteriorate for want of face to face contact and the trust and relationship building that it brings’.
In these days of Web 2.0 hype you would think that alliance managers would be able to use a collection of such tools (blogs, teleconferences, telepresences, social networks, virtual meetings, etc.) but it appears that face to face interaction is still needed to create lasting and meaningful personal relationships. The glue which holds valuable business to business interactions together.
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