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September 30, 2016

We live in a connected world, so its no surprise that businesses and organizations of all kinds are joining together and forming partnerships to bring us products and services that make our lives easier, better and even more fun.

Some of the collaborations may seem odd and unexpected at first, but once you realize the need they address or desire they fulfill, they make a lot of sense.

What these partnerships all have in common is that they share customer information and insights to understand and serve their customers better. They realize that new business models and deeper customer insights will enable them to jointly develop products and services to improve customers lives.

Safe, energy efficient homes

Nest is an innovator in smart thermostats that learn customer preferences and adjust accordingly for comfort and energy efficiency. But that was just the beginning. Its Works with Nest program connects data from company partners and the internet of things to make the entire home experience safer and more personalized.

Whirlpool washers and driers, for example, get electric grid data from Nest to turn on when energy consumption is low. Mercedes-Benz cars let Nest know when homeowners are on their way, so the house is comfortable by the time they arrive. And LIFX smart lighting works with Nest smoke detectors to flash a warning in an emergency.

These collaborations anticipate the homeowners needs and puts technology in service of a better life.

Stress free first dates (or first date scheduling)

When discovered that over a third of singles said that having coffee is their favorite first date activity, it decided to partner with Starbucks to provide a Meet at Starbucks feature for its online dating service. Meet at Starbucks allows users to directly send an invitation to set up a coffee date at Starbucks.

The feature also integrates Starbucks store locator to let members choose a convenient location to meet. The partnership demonstrates that each company understands its customers and wants to make their lives easier.

More exciting travel with less stressful expense reporting

Airbnb has already revolutionized the way people find interesting places to stay all over the worldfrom city-center apartments to treehouses, in over 190 countries.

By partnering with Vayable, an international tourism platform that links travelers to local residents to provide city tours, Airbnb now makes it easy to find interesting things for people to do in the places they visit.

Architecture buffs can stay in a well-designed home and then get a tour of famous buildings by a local expert.

This unified business model gives customers unique experiences that go way beyond traditional tourist services. And because this is a social-first solution, the comments and ratings provided by users boosts the profile for both services.

Airbnb also partners with Concur to better meet the needs of business travelers by allowing Airbnb receipts to appear on company expense reports. This makes it easier for business travelers to use Airbnb and provides an added value service for Concurs customers.

Just plain fun

There are many other examples of successful partnershipssome more serious and others are just plain fun. For fun, you cant beat the Dr. Pepper and Lip Smackers partnership that brought us Dr. Pepper flavored lip chap. And then theres the Spotify and Uber partnership that offers a new level of personalization by playing your favorite playlist when you ride in a hired car.

Strategic partnerships provide effective ways to gain a deeper understanding of customers based on shared data, customer analytics and deeper customer engagement. They help all partners involved boost their brand awareness, and break into new markets. And as more companies take this approach, stronger ecosystems will evolve that are more capable of generating sustainable business growth and improving peoples lives.

Kathleen Holm is Marketing Director of the TCS Digital Software & Solutions (DS&S) Group. She has more than 25 years of experience marketing technology software and services to enterprises worldwide. She leverages her extensive background in enterprise software technology to help organizations develop effective marketing strategies, create targeted messaging and positioning, and implement effective go-to-market plans to improve corporate performance. Prior to joining TCS, Kathleen was a Senior Principal of technical product marketing for Oracle Fusion Middleware where she was responsible for defining the marketing strategy based on industry maturity and customer trends. She also held positions at IBM including Market Manager for WebSphere Developer Programs, Market Manager for Tivoli Integrated Service Management and Tivoli Brand Specialist. Prior to joining IBM, Kathleen worked with four high-tech startups.


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