I recently returned from a family vacation to Oregon. While I always enjoy them, planning and preparing for them is a team effort in my house. Juggling schedules, logistics and everyone’s preferences tests my negotiation skills. Multiply that x10 when you’re trying to plan a socially distanced, safe vacation during a pandemic. But it all worked out, thanks to phenomenal partnering from my family.

Doug Merritt, Splunk president and CEO, who was a recent guest on the XaaS Files podcast, expressed a similar sentiment. As podcast host, I had the good fortune to talk to him about the importance of teaming with partners for digital transformation. “I’ve seen over and over that so much good can come from all this hardship, as long as we’ve got a growth mindset and are learning from the environment around us. And most importantly, that we are working together to drive a better tomorrow.” (And yes, I think his statement could also apply to my family vacation. That growth mindset saves me every time.)

But, of course within that growth and learning mindset, companies that want to innovate around their digital business models have to look for a few key things when leveraging partners to help drive necessary change. Splunk does that with 2,000+ active partners across 87 countries.

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The first thing to be clear about is outcomes. Solutions need targeted goals. And the best solutions start with working backwards from intended outcomes. As Doug put it: “With our partners, we work backward from a set of value drivers or use cases to ensure that, together, we have everything that a customer needs to be successful.”

I can attest to that process, as Accenture is one of the partners Splunk teams with to build not only customer solutions but also their transformed business model. We’ve now jointly developed more than 15 customer-centric offerings. And we’ve worked hard with Doug and his team to ensure we’re providing the right support—not just for industry-specific solutions but also for specific functions, processes and systems for growth.

Let’s take it real world. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a core component of any digital transformation, so of course we focused on a Splunk solution. In Doug’s words: “Accenture helps us jumpstart value with our offerings. A great example is the AI Ops offering that you have been instrumental in driving across our customer base. It involves really complex — and now beyond mission-critical — operations infrastructure and applications a company must have to securely drive digital transformation and to survive in the chaos of the global pandemic and social unrest.” Through partnered solutions like this one, we’ve been able to come together and create new value. That’s what it’s all about.

But solutions also need to address specific industry vertical needs. With Doug’s team, we’ve been able to create some really exciting solutions in multiple industries, from healthcare, to life sciences, to communications, retail and more. I’ll let him tell you about it: “Accenture has skills like cybersecurity, core DevOps, infrastructure management. But it also brings the deep domain expertise that is so critical within businesses. It could be the healthcare vertical overall for hospital bed utilization, or prescription drug controls in life sciences. It could be really cool stuff around cell tower and telecommunications capabilities. Or it could be the retail supply chain. The point is—when I look for a partner, like Accenture, I look for that combination of industry expertise, departmental expertise, manufacturing, supply chain, sales and technology expertise. That’s a powerful combination for customers who need someone to guide them through this digital transformation journey.”

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With our partners, we work backward from a set of value drivers or use cases to ensure that, together, we have everything that a customer needs to be successful.
- Doug Merritt, CEO Splunk

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I said it during the podcast with Doug but it’s worth repeating here: “The partner ecosystem is an opportunity for companies to come together and create new value that they couldn’t create on their own.” It’s all about the collective power of the village you create. And it needs to be done very deliberately and with clear intention.

As a business leader, I’m sure digital innovation is on your agenda. No matter where you are in the journey, the right ecosystem partners are essential to long-term success. Doug summed it up well: “We’re asking our partners to dedicate the most precious thing they have—their people, their time, their capital, to work with us to help drive the right customer outcomes. You have to really understand your partner, from their income statement to their skills, their competencies, their mindset.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks to Doug for his time sharing Splunk’s digital transformation journey. If you missed this episode, I encourage you to check out the replay. It’s always great to hear how another senior executive is leading a team to new horizons.

Kevin Dobbs

Managing Director – Accenture Consulting

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