Innovation in partnerships


"The emergency exits are here, here and here." Airbnb and KLM

“The emergency exits are here, here and here.” Airbnb partners with KLM at Schipol Airport

When we think about innovation it tends to be in the context of devising new products and services.

Innovation can take lots of different forms though, and one of the most effective ways a company can innovate is through partnerships.

Recently, IBM (my employer) announced a partnership with Twitter that will enable both companies to offer more insight and analytics services to enterprises.

With over a century of history, IBM is one of the most established firms in the technology industry.

Twitter is a new player by comparison, with very different origins and heritage, but the contrasts between the two firms make for an exciting and fresh combination and promise something new for businesses.

The day before the IBM – Twitter announcement, PwC announced a partnership with Google.

For Google, the intention appears to be to build the credibility of its Apps for Work platform amongst enterprises, while PwC will benefit from the opportunity to provide implementation consultancy services.

In combination the two companies can enhance their existing propositions and take them to new markets in new ways.

In a different industry – retail this time – GE has partnered with Quirky to develop a range of devices for the “connected home”.

The partnership makes sense for GE given its portfolio of domestic products and brands, and strategic drive to build its digital proposition.

Quirky meanwhile can benefit from the resources and opportunities to develop product that integrate with existing home devices that a relationship with GE can offer.

Probably the most eye-catching example of an innovative partnership I’ve spotted over the past fortnight is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ partnership with Airbnb to convert an airplane into a temporary hotel.

OK, this one feels a bit more like a promotional stunt than a strategic partnership, but nevertheless, it illustrates the creative possibilities that can emerge when two brands work together.

And if I ever find myself with a stopover at Schipol Airport, you never know, I might consider checking-in.

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