As part of our new series of blogs and vlogs focused on startups and their role as a catalyst for sustainable innovation, Capgemini Ventures is exploring the benefits of opening up the conversation. But, of course, there’s a lot to take onboard during this journey and the first consideration is the introduction of new ways of working.
For many organizations, there’s a notion that innovation from startups can be positioned at the periphery and not the heart of the bigger picture. In our opinion, however, this represents a gap in the corporate strategy that needs to be plugged. Startups are no longer shiny objects but are now embedding themselves firmly into business value propositions.
However, collaborating successfully with startups is not simply a change of mindset. Because collaboration through an open ecosystem speeds up time to market, enterprises may need to explore new approaches to their old challenges – rapidly adapting their organization, processes, systems, and even business models to respond with agility. But this isn’t necessarily as daunting as it sounds.
Many organizations are beginning to realize the value in blurring their boundaries and including startups as part of their value proposition. Salesforce, for example, has augmented part of their business to embed startups. They’ve created AppExchange, where startups and independent software vendors (ISVs) can sell their services and grow. AppExchange is the leading enterprise cloud marketplace to help extend Salesforce – and customers can find proven apps and experts to quickly solve their business challenges.
Dominique Gillies, regional vice-president, strategic ISV partnerships, EMEA, Salesforce, explains: “This is the fastest way to bring innovation to our customers and ensure their success in the long run.”
Bringing startups into an effective ecosystem
If the benefits of bringing startups into an effective ecosystem are clear, and other organizations are starting to reap the rewards, then the next question is: “how?” Because even though startups bring in disruptive innovations and exciting new technologies, they also bring in niche markets and high-risk associations. So, how do you overcome the challenges?
Here are a few ways to help organizations create an open ecosystem that fosters powerful collaborations and partnerships with startups – while avoiding many of the associated growing pains:
- Establish internal sponsorship and strategic buy-in
The first thing you must do is work out your mission and define your unique objectives because it’s vital to have strategical clarity on the business need.
Next, it’s important to map out the stakeholders across leadership and the operational teams that will execute the strategic ambition – and take the newly defined objectives to them. These can not only be used to achieve the buy-in that’s required, but also act as a tool to learn more about the business and its needs. When working with a partner such as Capgemini, you can then bring the objectives to us to help sharpen the proposition, too.
It should all be part of an ongoing process that happens over time, as opposed to a one-off strategic play. This will help to foster strong collaborations that nurture long-term associations with startup ecosystems.
- Scout the right startup
New startups appear all the time and spotting the right one can be a challenge. You should therefore have a predefined and time-bound process that provides decision-making support to your business before any startup engagement begins.
The methodology that’s employed should help your organization understand the strengths, synergies, and risks of engaging with a particular startup – and should ultimately be tied to your overarching strategic ambition.
Once a suitable startup has been identified, and the due diligence carried out, you can then work with the startup closely to jointly develop a value proposition that will deliver the right outcomes before any actual work begins. This can be followed throughout the entire engagement to ensure everything remains on track.
- Test the water
Along with gathering anecdotal evidence and assessment outcomes, it’s important to run proof of concept (POC) testing to demonstrate feasibility while continually interrogating the value proposition that’s been defined.
This will enable you to outline the constraints and parameters that will ultimately help to validate how the startup’s solution infuses innovative solutions and compliments your market position and go-to markets. It’ll also provide an insight into whether you should invest in, or nurture, a strategic alliance.
- Collaborate with agility and rigor
Once all the preparation stages are complete, the process itself can begin. Here, it’s crucial to be clear on decision making and timelines – and simplify them wherever possible.
The most successful organizations also make sure to propose simplified contract templates that are specific to the startup, and approved by the purchasing department. This provides the structure required for everyone to collaborate with agility, moving freely within the guidelines of expectation.
It’s a good idea to establish a dedicated single point of contact; someone within your organization who can connect the startup with the relevant contact they need, based on the project type.
The business collaboration framework, defined by Capgemini Ventures, has industrialized this set of guidelines to collaborate with startups, which speeds up GTM and provides risk mitigation strategies to be implemented.
- Accelerate to adopt at scale
When the priorities are established, the business alignment model is defined, and the contracts are signed off, it’s time to scale and accelerate innovation across the global enterprise.
You can mobilize and access the relevant resources required to make scaling easier. You can promote collaboration internally and externally to help the startup grow. And you can start working towards reaching the desired outcomes of the collaboration.
However, you must remember to keep working at it in order to achieve success.
Bridging the gap between business and technology
In conclusion, it’s become clear that bilateral partnerships are no longer enough. Each partner must understand every other partner’s wider ecosystem. If we all do that successfully, then we’ll collectively benefit from some truly exciting and innovative ideas.
As the bridge between business and technology, Capgemini is here to help our clients adopt startup solutions at scale. A startup is a partner unlike any other and our open framework is fine-tuned to your organizational requirements to enable you to adapt and build – it’s a strong foundation for creating a mutually beneficial relationship for both sides.
For further insight into the other major considerations around bringing startups into an effective ecosystem, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the forthcoming blogs and vlogs as part of this series.
Susana Rincón, Startup Catalyst Global Manager, Capgemini
Susana is the Global Manager of Startup Catalyst, which is Capgemini’s Startup Framework, designed to enable in a structured way collaboration with value-adding startup ecosystems through an end-to-end catalogue of services.
Meetali Gandhi, Startup Catalyst India Ops Lead, Capgemini
Meetali is the operations lead of Startup Catalyst India, which is Capgemini’s Startup Framework, responsible for enabling collaboration with value-adding startup ecosystems through an end-to-end catalogue of services in a structured way.