Platform partnerships are key to many corporate technology strategies. When their different services are integrated, companies are able to reach more customers, deploy new services and harness IT resources more efficiently.
Instore, a software company providing mobile point-of-sale solutions to retail merchants, has been able to grow its customer base through a network of technology partners. For example, Instore partnered with Mercury Payments to offer efficient payment processing out of the box instead of building an entirely new system from scratch.
Matt Niehaus, Instore’s CEO, explained that these kinds of integrations have been invaluable for helping his company meet growing customer demands.
“We get a large amount of requests from our merchant customers to help them grow their business and run more efficiently,” said Niehaus. “Example requests include online ordering, customer rewards, gift cards, and better analytics.”
Instead of building new product features using in-house staff, Niehaus and his team rely on partnerships with vendors to fill the gaps.
“Integration partners allow us to offer more services sooner,” said Niehaus. “We also save on the cost of developing these services, which can be quite large for complex features.”
Ensuring Alignment with Partners
Integration partnerships can be resource intensive and expensive to implement. Before decided to pursue a deal, Niehaus and his team look to ensure that both companies will derive a significant return on investment.
Currently, Niehaus and his team are working on setting up a partnership with an online food delivery service.
“We have an excellent alignment of interest in that both parties benefit quantitatively and qualitatively from the other’s services,” said Niehaus.
To ensure a successful product integration, Niehaus recommends that organizations look for partners with the following characteristics:
- They target a similar customer base.
- Their product(s) will help your company build its offerings comprehensively and over the long term.
- They aren’t a direct competitor and are unlikely to compete with your organization down the road.
While platform partnerships can initially require significant technical and IT resources, such as the need for engineering and customer support personnel, some organizations are now offering integrations through APIs (application programming interfaces), which don’t require the same kind of heavy lifting.
Not Just a Technical Issue
Platform integrations are not just a technical issues, however.
“It’s not enough to connect your technical teams to make the software work together,” said Niehaus. “You need solid interaction with marketing, sales and customer support.”
Indeed, because business considerations drive the partnership, business development and executive teams should be leading the process.