Introducing John Acton: Head of Partners and Alliances

by O2 Business

John Acton was recently appointed to head up O2’s Partners and Alliances practice. We caught up with him to learn more about his plans for 2016 and beyond.

What does the Partners and Alliances practice mean to O2?

At O2, partner involvement has always been a key aspect of our business-to-business strategy and it will become increasingly so as we move into 2016 and towards 2017. With partners, my approach has always been the same; delivering more for less for our customers. There will be organisations that do some things better than us. But, we will do some things better than them and if we can have a grown-up conversation about how we can work together to deliver a better product in the marketplace, then that’s a very positive position to be in. I don’t get hung up on the question of who should ‘prime’ a particular deal and who should support in the background, the more important question is… what’s the right way to align different skills to deliver the best solution for the customer.

Where do you see the opportunities?

From my experience, a strategic partnership or an alliance will give the teams and business units a competitive advantage and an opportunity to access a broader range of resources and expertise. This means that the partnership can offer our customers distinctive products and solutions that stand out from the competition.  It’s really important to me that we are not doing this simply to keep up, but that we are leading the way in the industry. Successful partnerships and alliances rely on the principle that the work involved in maintaining a partnership and the benefits from the alliance are equally spread, rather than one partner carrying the load while the other reaps the benefits.  It has to be a “win-win” situation with shared commitments and strong governance.

What are some of the partnerships O2 has been working on?

We have been working with the likes of Capita to enhance our service offerings to organisations in the public sector. Together we have developed a secure mobile application for the police, the Bluelight Managed Mobility Service, which enables front-line officers to perform key tasks on the beat such as searching databases for information, filing reports on the move and helping officers to make more informed decisions. We are also working with a number of new digital start-ups such as Quidini and RotaGeek through our start-up accelerator program called Wayra, bringing together innovative and talented individuals to accelerate new ways of working.

How do organisations create value in partnerships?

The best results from a strategic partnership generally occur when each partner delivers excellent service and where the partners are not adversarial in the marketplace. By working together each partner can focus on its strengths, while having reliable people in other organisations to cover areas outside their expertise.  As in any relationship, trust and communication are key to the long term success particularly when projects may not go exactly as planned. According to a recent PwC Global CEO Survey, 83% of telecoms CEOs and 75% of technology CEOs view partnerships as critical to their business.  So, does your business have strategic partners? If not, why not?

I would love to hear your views, questions or insights. Please feel free to contact me @actonjohn