SAN JOSE, CA: There is a widespread view among executives that partnering with other companies is important to success but a new report suggests that few have effective strategies in place and failure rates are high.

A study by the CMO Council and the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, based on a survey of 330 senior management executives and 20 in-depth qualitative interviews, found that getting access to new ideas, insights and innovations was a major reason to partner.

Fully 85% of those surveyed thought partnerships and alliances were an essential part of their business strategy, but just one third (33%) had developed a formal approach to this area and almost two thirds (60%) reported failure rates of 60% or more.

Overall, four in ten (42%) expressed dissatisfaction at how well their companies were leveraging their partnership and alliance potential. A mere 10% felt they were very good at identifying, qualifying and securing partner introductions.

Most (60%) were focused on developing a strategy and targeted approach for sourcing alliance opportunities and building out contact networks. And for a significant proportion of those surveyed (40%), partnerships were being sought as a way to reach new geographical markets or to expand an online presence.

"The marketplace is evolving rapidly, so our practices also need to evolve," said Simon Dryer, National Partner Manager of VMware and one of the expert contributors to the study.

He noted that businesses needed to be nimble and to have a highly executable vision. "And to achieve that vision, you need the right strategic alliances with a framework approach that supports it," he added.

The ability to realise such alliances was more difficult for small to medium-size firms, according to Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council.

"They do not have the domain expertise, business networks or management bandwidth to support the arduous and time-consuming process of identifying, cultivating and making the right partner connections," he said, "regardless of whether this is for revenue gain, new market access, product line extension, geographic expansion, customer access, domain knowledge, IP licensing or capital sourcing."

The report suggested, however, that their task was being made simpler by big data and cloud services which were "bringing radical efficiency and automation to partner matching" and at the same time reducing the "financial and human energy drain associated with ill-conceived partnerships".

Data sourced from CMO Council; additional content by Warc staff