In China alone, "technically automatable activities" made up the equivalent of $3.6 trillion in wages, according to McKinsey Global Institute. It's no wonder that so many businesses around the world are implementing and scaling automation.
To help businesses with those goals, automation providers are building relationships with networks of partners to form partner ecosystems that can help providers meet demand.
Partners play a vital role guiding customers throughout their automation journeys. With partners, companies can take advantage of the growth in automation demand, integrate automation into their companies, and scale automation so it meets its potential to transform the business.
Companies are working within geographic areas and specialized industries that create unique complexities. Often, it’s difficult to port strategies from one area or industry to another, making it hard to rely on best practices alone. Scale, then, can become a struggle.
Companies can cross the gap by working with a partner that will make the fully automated enterprise™ a practical reality. This reality becomes even more practical if that partner is part of a strong partner ecosystem.
A partner ecosystem turns a relationship with one partner into a relationship with many more. An ecosystem gives companies access to a full range of partners with skills, tools, and expertise that enable companies to scale automation.
Not all partner ecosystems are made equal, however, and that’s what this post will explore.
What is a partner ecosystem?
A partner ecosystem is a group of partners that a vendor enables.
Vendors build complementary solutions with partners, as well as markets and sell with partners to meet unique customer demand around a common technology. In the case of the UiPath partner ecosystem, this demand is around automation.
Partners are the experts that surround and support a vendor and deliver distinct services, expertise, and/or complementary technologies across industries, geographies, functionalities, and domains.
Partner ecosystems primarily consist of two types of partners: business and technology. The former focuses on services and solutions to help customers develop automation operating plans to start, scale, and importantly, implement automation. The latter focuses on providing complementary technologies that integrate with the vendor’s technology to make the adoption of automation seamless.
Business partners help customers with a range of activities and tasks, including:
Implementation steps like coding, training, and communications. Partners help organizations start with automation pilots and help them develop those pilots into fully fledged programs, including training the organization’s employees.
Technology decisions around things like process mining and artificial intelligence (AI). Partners, by definition, have implemented automation many more times than an organization doing it for the first time. With this expertise, partners can help an organization choose the features and products that are right for them.
Business model design like developing an automation operating model. A partner’s specialized experience can help an organization build models that will enable the organization to see automation benefits sooner.
Across these three activities, the overriding goal is to help organizations meet the needs from their customers, shareholders, and employees, as enabled by the technology. Business partners can meet organizations at any stage of their automation journey to provide support and assistance—anywhere from implementation to reaching a tipping point where the business case is realized and the governance model is delivering at scale.
Technology partners, on the other hand, provide tools that complement the automation technologies customers are already using or want to adopt. SAP® customers, for instance, will want seamless integration with the technologies and processes they already have. SAP customers have invested heavily in their current infrastructure, and no matter how appealing a new tool is, it won’t be worth ripping out their current systems.
These organizations don’t want to buy new infrastructure to support new technologies. They want to evolve and adapt, yes, but they also want to ensure that the investments they made in the past continue to pay off.
Organizations often get introduced to new technologies via technology and/or business partners in a partner ecosystem. Yes, business partners in the ecosystem can also introduce and integrate new technologies for organizations, which helps increase the total value to the customer beyond the existing vendor’s solution.
When you choose a partner that’s a part of a partner ecosystem, you get access to a whole range of other partners that can make your automation journey even more successful.
What makes a good partner ecosystem?
The major benefit of using a partner ecosystem is that you can trust that each partner within it is carefully vetted and works with the vendor you've selected (in our examples here, the vendor is an automation platform). With a partner ecosystem, you’re not on a solo adventure––there’s a path already cleared for you.
That doesn’t mean, however, that all partner ecosystems are equally effective.
A partner ecosystem is supported by a strong partner program that provides partners access to training, best practices, and use cases. Those program-provided resources offer expert technical and product knowledge and services to joint customers. For example, UiPath partners have always-on access to the UiPath Partner Academy and UiPath Partner Portal.
Many organizations work with one partner for advising and another for implementation, e.g. one partner for the front office and another for the back office.
In a strong partner ecosystem, the vendor offers additional advanced training and certifications, enabling partners to provide the best possible solutions to customers. There may be specific designations for partners who complete those certifications and are vetted by the vendor to ensure those partners have the right people, business processes, and governance in place.
For example, the UiPath Services Network (USN) was launched for partners that prove they are as effective as the UiPath Professional Services team.
Additionally, a strong ecosystem is made up of partners that have support around the broader automation roadmap through investments, talent, and tools.
Finally (and importantly), a strong ecosystem consists of partners that are recognized by third parties for their product offering and market presence. The Forrester Wave™: Midsize RPA Services, Q1 2021 recognized 12 midsize RPA providers, nine of which are UiPath business partners. Those UiPath partners were: Accelirate, Agilify Automation, Coforge, Digital Workforce, EXL, Hexaware Technologies, ITC Infotech, NTT Data, Reveal Group, Virtusa Corporation, and Zensar.
The partnership ecosystem opens up a world of automation opportunity
A partner ecosystem is one whereby everyone benefits from participating in it: customers get more expertise, partners get access to cutting edge technologies, and vendors offer more value to their customers via their partners.
A good partner can make your automation dreams possible; a strong partner ecosystem can help you sustain your journey toward becoming a fully automated enterprise.
Check out Top 5 Things To Consider When Selecting an Automation Partner next!
Special thanks to Carlo di Colloredo-Mels and Leah Maduri for their contributions to this post. Colloredo-Mels is Senior Director of Global Partner Marketing at UiPath. Maduri is a Partner Marketing Senior Manager at UiPath.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.uipath.com/blog/automation/automation-partner-ecosystem