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Partnerships key to digital innovation

Competition has become a team sport in the digital era, with companies joining forces to get to grips with the latest innovations, a report has found

Businesses are relying more and more on digital partnerships to harness innovation and increase profits, according to research from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Telstra.

The report, entitled Connecting companies: Strategic partnerships for the digital age, found that companies are increasingly seeking digital partnerships, with 53% of respondents saying they will “have to be part of a network to leverage technology trends in the future”.

“Competition in the digital era is now a team sport. Organisations will have to be open to new ways of operating if they want to form successful digital partnerships,” the report stated.

“Technology companies can go it alone, but there is growing acknowledgement of the value in digital partnerships with traditional or offline organisations in other industries.”

According to the survey of 1,044 senior business leaders from across the world, nearly half of North American executives said they were embracing disruption, compared with one-third in Asia-Pacific.

One of the reasons for this is to access digital capabilities in other companies, such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or large technology platforms such as Google or Amazon. Nearly half of respondents said they plan to enter a partnership with a major technology company in the next year.

Martijn Blanken, group managing director for Telstra Global Enterprise and Services, said the research shows an increase in companies forming partnerships to keep up with the pace of technological advances.

“I’m not suggesting that the age of in-house R&D and product development is dead, but in many industries you just can’t go it alone any more,” he said.

“Whether it is the Indian conglomerate Tech Mahindra’s strategic partnership with Cisco on the internet of things, or investments in startups like Telstra is making through our muru-D accelerator and Ventures Group, partnerships have become a key business strategy.”

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