By 4 December 2019 | Categories: interviews


TechSmart Features sponsored by the Huawei Global Developer Programme

At the recent LevelUp event at Microsoft, one of the key themes that emerged was the value e of collaboration and cooperation. Along with its Independent Software Vendors (ISV), the company unpacked why small, medium and large organisations are best served by working together to their mutual benefit.

There, Lionel Moyal, the commercial partners lead at Microsoft South Africa, made two critical observations – that collaboration is critical to succeed in this digitally  transforming world and the unfolding digital era, and secondly, it’s  not always the best innovators that win the day, but rather those who are most adroit at reaching their intended markets.

Going further together

We sat down with him to unpack the observations further. Moyal began by explaining why supporting and collaborating with its ISVs and customers is important to the company.

“Microsoft is a platform and cloud company and we want our customers to derive value and our partners to use our services. We realized that if one helps their partners and customers succeed and give them support in difficult areas, then you are ensuring csuccess across the board. For us to scale and build scale businesses, we have to ensure partners and  customers grow their business. To do that, Microsoft has aimed to give them access to go-to-market services,” he elaborated.

He continued that this model is part of this New World. “In the old way of doing things a company would just create a platform and leave it up to customers to figure out the best way to use it on their own. That approach is not good enough anymore,” he continued. Rather, Moyal stressed, Microsoft has intentionally provide best practices and training on how to use the tools they are making available, as part and parcel of taking an active interest in ensuring their customers succeed.

Innovation alone is not enough

Switching tracks, he then explained why having an innovative product, even a top class one, often isn’t enough to ensure success.

“We see it all the time, where brilliant minds come up with incredible ideas with immense innovation quality, but it going to stagnate and fail to take root,” he noted. The reason for this of often that the idea hasn’t been supported with strong go-to-market support. That also entails considering how that innovation is packaged in a way that people will buy it and packaging it so that it can be scaled, and then connecting it into different sales channels so as to grow it.

Indeed, this is not an unfamiliar story. Moyal pointed out that there are many examples throughout history of innovations that haven’t worked. A classic example was Sony Betamax vs VHS. Despite the fact that allegedly Betamax was so much better than VHS, being smaller and offering better quality than its competitor, it was VHS that ultimately dominated the market.

A good part of the reason why that happened was that VHS benefitted from the better marketing strategy as well as the partnerships and ecosystem that were built around it.

Bringing that into the present, where innovation has become such an often discussed topic, Moyal urged companies to bear in mind no matter how brilliant their innovation may  be, if they aren’t leveraging  network effects that come with ecosystems, there is a strong  likelihood that half the world will never know about their product.

“I think that is a pity. So our aim is to help organisations take that value they have created and get it out into the world. We can help them because we have best practices, partners that do that,” he continued.  

Scale and scope

However, Moyal pointed out that in today’s interconnected highly technological world, where boundaries have been blurred by the internet, there are organizations today that providing some innovation, good services and making a living in the local market. However, he enthused, they may well have considerable global growth prospects just by being connected with the right teams, the right customers and with other channel partners.

While there is opportunity, there is also some risk. Moyal pointed out that we have already moved from a world where productivity was about how much you can achieve as an individual to how much you can achieve as a team. “If you don’t have ability to collaborate you run the risk of being made irrelevant,” he warned.

The changing world of work

Furthermore, the need to adapt and embrace collaboration and cocreation is also being driven by the fact that the world is changing in terms of how we do work. Increasingly, organisations are becoming less hierarchical and more networked. Engaging with virtual teams, interacting with people remotely across different geographies, and people working from home has also become more prolific.

Indeed, this has also led to new tools that enable this new kind of working to be more seamless, with Microsoft Teams being a prime example. But, Moyal noted, there are also one particular soft skills that he encourages people, and businesses, to invest in developing.

“At the root of it is openness and embracing the concept of having a growth mindset. This entails moving from a mindset of having to know it all to one of being willing to learn it all. With this, people should develop for themselves a sense of constant learning and development,” he concluded.  

To the point   

Indeed, the main takeaway from both the Level Up event and my interview was that in this uncharted new world into which we are heading, it’s simply impossible to know everything anymore. Rather, the best equipped for the next decade are those who are willing to learn, open to finding answers rather than having to know them, and of course, willing to collaborate on solutions for mutual success.


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