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Business Strategy in Building Industry Partner Ecosystem with Amit Phadnis

Recently, Institute of Product Leadership hosted an Industry Connect Event at CMR University, Bangalore, where Amit Phadnis, President, Engineering, Cisco Systems, shared his thoughts on “Business Strategy in Building Industry Partner Ecosystem”.

Consumption models are changing dramatically, how the end users, enterprise or service provider will actually consume technology is changing significantly.

Amit Phadnis distinctively categorized the transition into three buckets:

• Market transition
• Technology transition
• Economics transition

Amit highlights the importance of these transitions and suggests that if a person wants to be a successful product leader, he/ she will have to stay on the top of these transitions. However, at the same time merely following these transitions will not help you to succeed but will just help you to survive in the market.


1) Foresee Future: Don't simply work on a new thing in the market. Have a futuristic vision.

Irrespective of how successful you are today, it does not guarantee you success in the future, only those companies which think ahead of times can actually have a taste of success.

Amit pulled out the priorities set by Modi government and quoted these projects like 100 smart cities in 10 years, broadband in every home as a ten billion dollar opportunity.

He put across an interesting question in front of the product leaders that they can capitalize on this and can simply pick any one of them, as each one is a ten billion dollar opportunity in the next five years.

And advised the product leaders that they can build a huge business against any of these line items provided their idea is right, they build a right ecosystem and last but not the least they keep in mind to deliver what exactly market demands.

“As a product leader, you need to look around and pick the right area as opportunities are immense.”

Furthermore, Amit revealed the mantra for success as “The product leaders need to ensure that they stay one step ahead, keep a futuristic vision and predict the trend as they have to come up with an idea which can be realized through a product”.

The market is increasingly volatile and

 Only 24 percent of fortune 500 companies 25 years ago actually survived
 87 percent severe stall; 11 percent recover
 1/3 companies survive, 25 years

2) Don't just build great products; Build ecosystem

Amit consistently emphasized on building a strong ecosystem, not just great products. There are a few companies who do majorly well in the market transition and the technology transition. However, there are others who do fairly well in these two; however, they prove to be a big time blunder at the business transition.

One technology or one business will not be able to deliver the business outcome in totality and that is why we need a partner ecosystem. Being a product leader you have to create an ecosystem around you to deliver a positive business outcome.

Requirements that come from the field have to manage differently; the sales force needs to be retrained and as a product leader you have to be cognizant not only from the market and technology perspective but also what’s happening in your ecosystem and from the business strategy standpoint and analyze what needs to be done.

As a product leader, you have to think on which ecosystem you are working in. You may be having a small start-up or working on a small idea but building a perfect ecosystem means a lot.

In a nutshell, as a product leader, you have to create a huge and healthy ecosystem around your products and technology, if you have to sustain as a number one business and if you failed to create a strong ecosystem, three years down the line you will definitely not be in the number one position anymore.

3) Empower Partners:

You may be having a killer product idea and efficient people to work on that product idea but you need to analyze what is your ecosystem which will make it successful and how my technology or service is going to get consumed. Many great products could not do well because you do not empower your partners so much.

Invest in a partner as you develop a product, you need to enable your partner to be able to sell that technology. He categorized the partners as OEM, VAR, Cloud providers, Consultants, System integrators, ISV’s.

4) Cheap is not good. Don't just build cheaper products but build a usable product with potential features.

Amit strongly recommends that instead of merely creating cheap products, you need to build products which are usable and have potential features. Usability relies on user feedback through evaluation rather than simply trusting the experience and expertise of the designer. Unlike conventional software acceptance testing, usability evaluation involves watching real people use a product (or prototype), and using what is learned to improve the product.

As a product leader, you should have the ability to go to market and conspicuously analyze your “Go to Market” strategy. The companies often fail due to flawed go to market strategy.

Amit further emphasized the importance of operational efficiency and simplicity. As a product Manager, if you can bring the right functionality at the right price, you will not only be able to succeed from the business standpoint but also outshine in the entire product industry.

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