Mario needs Luigi. Mulder needs Scully. Everyone needs a great partner—especially tech businesses focused on the user experience.

No company builds all its own tools. Even the largest companies in the world trust outside partners for functions like payroll, public relations, advertising, recruitment, and more. It simply takes too much time to do everything solo. Besides, why pour energy and resources into a new solution if someone already built a cost-effective fix for the same problem?

Partnerships in tech are the natural and correct answer to a host of challenges. When two companies find the right opportunity, a partnership allows both businesses to take advantage of the situation for mutual gain. This is particularly true for user experiences, where small improvements can lead to enormous gains for the companies involved.

Consider some of the recent tech partnerships this year. Dolby.io and Stream recently joined forces to provide a more comprehensive, integrated communications solution for web and mobile apps. The collaboration provides users access to an advanced solution for voice, video and chat. Both companies offer best-of-breed communications APIs, so a partnership just made sense. 

Tech Partnerships

Partnerships in tech are the natural and correct answer to a host of challenges

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In another space, commerce experience management tool Salsify teamed up with Label Insight, a growth attribution company, to improve data transference. As a result, users have an easier time finding the grocery products they want quickly and easily. Again, the two companies complement one another in a way that benefits the end user.

Evaluating potential partners is a tricky exercise, though. How can businesses find the perfect Robin to their Batman without giving up too much control or taking unnecessary risks? Let’s walk through some of the best tips to make tech partnerships work both for companies and their end users.

Agree on a common goal.

Before you can find the right partner, you must first understand your goal. What opportunity are you trying to seize? What capabilities do you lack right now?

Maybe you can meet your current user experience goals without a partner. Maybe you haven’t even considered the new capabilities a partner could bring to the table. Think about what you want to achieve, then think bigger. Once you have a few goals of varying ambition in mind, you can evaluate partners based on their ability to help you reach them.

Consider your clout.

Sometimes, you may want to partner with a company with a much smaller brand than your own. Don’t discount the value of name recognition, though. Plenty of psychology goes into the user experience, and when people see a name they know and trust, they may view the experience that follows more positively.

Consider your specific goals when evaluating partnerships. If the partnership is mostly backend work with little marketing fanfare, brand may not be an important factor. If you want users to expect something specific from the experience, however, the brand of your partner should be a key consideration.

Ask a trusted source.

You likely have other partners for other functions already. They may well know someone who can help you. Speak with investors, colleagues, and other leaders who may have connections who could help.

Don’t go in with a set goal unless you know exactly what you need and who you want to reach. Instead, present your problem to your network, explain your thoughts on what you want to achieve, and see how the open-ended conversation goes. You may discover some opportunities for partnerships you would not have otherwise considered.

Get feedback from the users themselves.

The best user experience is a solution to a user’s frustration. Automating systems that formerly required manual inputs is a great way to demonstrate to users that you are listening and you care about their concerns.

If you aren’t clear on what exactly your users want most, conduct some research. Send out surveys to gauge customer satisfaction about different parts of your product or service. Call up customers who have complained in the past and take an informal survey on the challenges they have faced. The more knowledge you get from the source, the smarter you can be in your partner selection process.

Look outside your industry.

The right partner for your business may not have anything to do with the industry in which you operate. Think horizontally—what do other businesses in similar positions within other industries do in your situation? 

This is a great opportunity to look at your business with fresh eyes. Sometimes, you may discover that a common problem within your industry is something that has been easily solved in another. You won’t know unless you look, so tap your connections and read the latest in industry-specific publications outside your bubble to learn more.

User experience correlates strongly with user retention. Fail to deliver an experience that delights, and your users will get frustrated and look for a solution, often without ever telling you about the problem. Talk to your users and find partners who can help you deliver the experiences your users deserve.

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Roland Millaner