The Value of Partnerships & Coopetition

Tod Grams (Business Development Partner)


We have all heard the phrase, “You can’t do it all,” or “You can’t do all of the things, all of the time.” That same idea applies to businesses and companies. Even a giant company like GM cannot do it all, but by developing partnerships and embracing coopetition they can get closer to that reality.

At DISHER, we also want and desire to do and be everything to satisfy our customers, but it’s just not humanly possible and can lead to less-than-optimal outcomes. At some point, we all need help. In one of my favorite quotes, Malcolm Bane said, “If you wait until you can do everything for everybody instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.”

Companies Rely on Partnerships & Coopetition to Remain Competitive

At CES 2022, many companies I met with expressed how they valued and used partnerships and coopetition throughout their product development cycle while also leveraging their own internal core competencies. 

More and more companies rely on external business partners and competitors to help develop the next big thing, deliver it to the market, and disrupt the world. 

A partnership can be defined as two or more organizations doing business together. When you work with a trusted partner, it can create a win-win situation. When both parties share expertise, skills, people, products, services, technologies, and other valuable assets, they can come out ahead together.

We define coopetition as “the act of cooperation between competing companies” (Investopedia). According to Adam M. Brandenburger and Barry J. Nalebuff authors of the book Co-Opetition, “It’s about finding ways to make the pie bigger rather than fighting with competitors over a fixed pie.” Like a partnership, coopetition can bring organizations mutual benefits like new innovations, technologies, markets, and/or products.

Examples of Coopetition

Many forward-thinking companies are using coopetition as they strategize for future success. Just recently, the two pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and BioNTech, used coopetition in a significant way. In March 2020 they combined their forces in both product development and manufacturing. This enabled the Covid-19 vaccine to reach the market by the end of 2020.

Coopetition has become more common with tech companies. Apple and Samsung have a history of fierce competition including lawsuits and fights over patents, while at the same time using coopetition to further advance their products and offerings. Samsung supplies Apple with certain components and parts for their phones, and Apple has opened up its streaming services to be accessible on Samsung TVs and other devices in order to try and keep up with big contenders like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

+ How General Motors uses Partnerships

The CEO of GM, Mary Barra, shared a keynote address during CES 2022. In it, she explains GM’s collaboration with Wabtec to develop and commercialize Ultium battery technology paired with Hydrotec fuel-cell systems for the electrification of Wabtec’s locomotives.

GM is also partnering with Pure Watercraft to co-develop and commercialize battery-electric watercraft to help the boating industry transition to electrification.

Pure Watercraft Electric Boat
https://www.purewatercraft.com/product/electric-pontoon-boat/

Another GM partnership is with a developer organization, Brightdrop, and their customer, FedEx, to develop an ecosystem of light commercial electric vehicles and containers that reimagine the delivery industry for an all-electric future for last mile logistics.

Lastly, Mary highlighted a partnership with Walmart utilizing Cruise, an autonomous commercial delivery platform, to help companies achieve their zero emissions for logistics goal by 2040.

The partnerships that GM has cultivated shows that they recognize their excellence in manufacturing and can then stay focused on their core competencies throughout these collaborations.

+ Gentex Stays Focused while Embracing Strategic Partnerships

Before the show, Gentex announced a partnership with eSight, a leading provider of vision enhancement technology, to develop and manufacture the next generation of mobile-electronic eyewear designed to help people living with visual impairments.

Gentex has also recently partnered with Mayo Clinic to co-develop a smart-lighting system for surgical and patient-care environments.

Lastly, you may remember that Gentex and RetiSpec announced their partnership to engineer, manufacture, and commercialize technology for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

Like GM, Gentex uses its partnerships to grow its products and technologies while still focusing on its electro-optical core competencies.

+ Abbott Labs Partners with Big Tech and Sony is Making Cars

One last example is how Abbott Labs announced a collaborative partnership with big tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon. They are working together to develop and commercialize a variety of their products while continuing to focus on healthcare, medical devices, and manufacturing.

Companies like Sony are now making cars. I don’t know about you, but I think of TVs, cameras, and sound systems when I think of Sony. Sony wouldn’t be able to launch automobiles successfully without leveraging partners in the automotive space.

How DISHER Utilizes Partnerships and Coopetition

Innovation Workshop

For many years, DISHER sought to leverage its consultancy business model as a one-stop shop for our customers. However, we learned that those aspirations were not attainable without leveraging partnerships and coopetition around our mission to Make a Positive Difference.

DISHER has formed a wonderful working partnership with the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) over the years. We work together to help a variety of local and regional manufacturing companies improve their production processes through training, consulting, engineering services, IoT solutions, and more.

SpinDance and Twisthink are two of our competitors we have collaborated with on projects with positive coopetition outcomes. Just like Pfizer, GM, Gentex, and Abbott Labs, DISHER is at its best when we stay focused on our core competencies.

Contact Us

Fill out the form to learn more about DISHER, how we leverage partnerships and coopetition, or how we can partner with you to provide the top talent you need to move your products and processes forward.

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