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Coopetition (or Fight Nice in the Corporate World)

Coopetition (or Fight Nice in the Corporate World)

22/10/2015 01:14 by Tom Ward-Scammell
Product Manager - Cloud

Coopetition is when competing companies cooperate to get some kind of business benefit.  And it’s getting more and more common.

Companies work together on segments of their business where they believe they can minimise costs but not jeopardise their unique attributes. For instance, Dell and HP are both strong competitors on notebook computers, but they offer Intel processors, rather than building their own, to keep component costs down and broaden their application market through compatibility.

Another way to erm… coopete is to give up share access with your user base for the brand values the partnership can give you.  For example, MasterCard is benefiting from being the first credit card company to offer Apple Pay. For Apple, MasterCard has a large base of users. Introducing with one player gives Apple the chance to work out any kinks, while new issuing banks and retailers ramp up their ability to accept and process the cards.

Apple seems to be throwing its doors open right now.  At their last event they didn’t disappoint (in my opinion anyway), with the larger iPad and (an overdue) Apple TV hitting the headlines. But what stood out most for me wasn’t really any of these awesome new products, but one of their guest speakers demoing their own apps. And this guest speaker? That would be none other than the king of productivity, Microsoft!

Now for me, this represents something HUGE in the world of technology, innovation, collaboration, and business. Ever since I have been working in the technology and service industry, I have been both a fan of Apple and of Microsoft, utilising both of their products for different uses. Throughout my time working in this industry I haven’t really seen the two tech giants work together. Always seen as competitors, each tripping over each other year after year, scrambling to win the consumer market, the business market, and the enterprise market resulting in both now being industry leaders in all markets.

And then we see Microsoft walk out on stage at Apple’s special event demoing their Office iOS apps on the new iPad Pro, introduced by Tim Cook praising their expertise on business productivity, with Microsoft then praising Apple on the quality and performance of the new iPad Pro.

Just think about it, they both have massively competing products in this space; the iPad vs. the Surface, Office 365 vs. iCloud, Mac vs. the PC, Windows vs. OS X. The list goes on…

Coopetition isn’t new of course; companies have been at it a long time.  Even Sony realised that it couldn’t win another format war for Blu-ray without the help of its sworn enemies Samsung, LG and Toshiba.  As recent as last week we saw coopetition at its best when the CEO of Apple, a senior vice president from Microsoft and a very senior executive from IBM shared the same stage in the same morning, all saying that the same company – Box – is the one to beat in enterprise content management in the cloud.

My point is, we now see these two mammoth tech giants, industry leaders coopeting regularly. The Microsoft demo at Dreamforce last month was done on an iPhone!!  They are both embracing each other’s technology and innovation, collaborating with each other to improve business productivity and the use of technology. To me this represents the change I am seeing in businesses all over the world, the changes I see in how people work in the office, at home, on the train, on the road, everywhere. To me this represents the possibilities that exist when we think differently on how we collaborate both within our organisation and within the competitive markets.  Better the devil you know…

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