Ecosystems

How to Partner with SaaS Marketplaces and Platforms like Xero

Xero's former Director of Partnerships Ecosystem shares insights for other SaaS companies to learn from.

In this Partner Insights webinar Roman Kirsanov interviews Bryan Williams to explore the key dynamics central to a platform ecosystem channel strategy – How to successfully partner with SaaS marketplaces like Xero.

Bryan provides a raft of insights into this trend.

At 2m:50s he visualizes the make up of platform ecosystem partnering models, describing a mix of 10’s of core partners in the ‘head’, 100’s of category leaders in the ‘torso’, 1000’s of specialist apps and components in the ‘long tail’, and 10,000’s of ecosystem and citizen apps in the ‘long, long tail’.

To gain visibility and profile in such a crowded system he recommends key principles notably developing integrations that add value to the core platform. However these are only ‘table stakes’ and typically building for brand association is a waste of time, so he reinforces the point that integration innovations that add real customer value are of course the critical success dynamic.

From 9m:30s Bryan provides an example case study of this dynamic, citing ServiceM8, an IOS app that enables tradespeople to service their jobs in the field and then integrate that job data back into Xero, thus offering a complete accounting and field service solution for a clearly defined industry requirement.

At 31m:10s Roman asks for further examples of great platform partner programs to provide reference blueprints, and Bryan responds describing Shopify and Deputy, and how they offer very clear engagements, in terms of what is expected of partners and what they stand to gain in return. Well defined goals of how partners can deliver success if key.

From 33m:00s the session concludes with Roman asking Bryan how SaaS companies that want to become platforms can progress along that journey. He answers first with the definition of what a platform is most notably an open set of APIs. This is important to differentiate between SaaS companies that simply offer a set of plugin modules.

Ultimately Bryan recommends an evolutionary journey – You can’t become a platform overnight but you can work towards it over time, being sure to maximize customer value at each stage to build in a compounding success formula.

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