September 25, 2023

Ecosystems: The importance of alliances in supply chain technology


The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

As technology has become vital in the supply chain and companies strive to innovate, meet consumer demands, handle disruptions and drive competitive advantage, alliances and partnerships in technology have emerged as crucial strategies for success. These alliances and partnerships take different forms and shapes.

First, partnerships and collaborations must be formed between the different functions in the supply chain. As many organizations still have functional silos, it is becoming paramount to the success of broader supply chain technologies that those functions collaborate across the organizations. Furthermore, alliances need to be built internally between the executive leadership and the operational teams to ease and accelerate the adoption of technologies and combat any resistance due to adversity of change. Newer technology platforms such as real-time visibility platforms also offer opportunities to form closer partnerships with customers and suppliers as all parties reap benefits of the platform. 

Next, there needs to be a strong alliance between the supply chain company and the technology partner. Creating an alliance or partnership between a customer and its technology vendor goes beyond the traditional buyer-seller relationship. Such a relationship is built on trust, mutual understanding and a shared vision of success. Current technology vendors don’t just sell a product, they sell value in the form of a technology solution. Approaching this relationship as an alliance offers reduced risk, longevity of the relationship, better knowledge of the customer and the solution, a shared vision, enhanced support and often cost savings.

Finally, the partnerships and alliances between technology vendors become critical as companies look more at technology as an ecosystem and at the same time it helps reduce barriers of adoption to the different technologies. Customers are looking for more comprehensive solutions that address their myriad needs seamlessly. 

No company, no matter how vast its resources, can claim expertise in every aspect of technology. By forging strategic alliances, companies can tap into the expertise and offerings of their partners. This not only facilitates the cross-pollination of ideas but also speeds up the adoption and implementation of different supply chain technologies. A great example of such a strategic alliance exists between SAP and project44, enabling SAP’s TM and Logistics Business Network with project44’s real-time visibility network and data platform. Other great examples can be found in FreightWaves’ FreightTech 100, companies that include many partnerships and alliances.

Besides providing a more holistic offering to the customer, these alliances strengthen the technology vendors’ competitive positioning in a super-competitive environment in which many vendors, even offering different solutions, often compete for the same budget and resources. These partnerships further ensure that companies remain agile, adapting to shifts in the market and capitalizing on collective strengths.

The technological landscape is becoming more intricate, complex and dynamic. It is marked by both cut-throat competition and the constant need for innovation. In this environment, alliances and partnerships are not mere strategic moves, they are imperatives for survival and growth. They foster a culture of collaboration, driving companies to look beyond their boundaries and embrace a more inclusive, synergistic approach to innovation both with their customer and with other tech vendors.

As the tech sector continues to shape the future, these partnerships form ecosystems that will be the bedrock on which next-generation solutions are built. Embracing this collaborative spirit is crucial for any tech company aspiring to leave a lasting impact in this brave new world.

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Bart De Muynck is an industry thought leader with more than 30 years of supply chain and logistics experience. He has worked for major international companies, including EY, GE Capital, Penske Logistics and PepsiCo, as well as several tech companies. He also spent eight years as a vice president of research at Gartner and, most recently, served as chief industry officer at project44. He is a member of the Forbes Technology Council and CSCMP’s Executive Inner Circle.


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

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