By Topher Morrison, author of “Collaboration Economy: Eliminate the Competition by Creating Partnership Opportunities”
If you need any further proof that the information age is dead and the collaboration age is now in full swing, bitter rivals Apple Inc., and IBM have announced that they are going to be collaborating to create approximately 100 business apps for the iPhone and iPad. The goal is to sell more iPhones and iPads to corporate and government agencies. How can two companies, which have been bitter rivals actually make this work? The answer is through collaboration.
Collaboration is about taking the best of what you have, and paring it up with another company who excels in the parts where you are weak. Apple is the undisputed king of user-friendly interface, while IBM kills it with their ‘big data’ capabilities. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the partnership between Apple and IBM will bring together the best of Apple and the best of IBM.
Now let’s be clear; in this author’s humble opinion, Apple is still way better than IBM. I know because I own a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPad, iPhone and a MacPro. But this kind of collaboration is what will make both tech giants become even better than they already are. Just like Elon Musk released the patents to his electric car technology, the moment a company no longer covets their proprietary information, and instead freely shares that information with the rest of the world, it forces the innovator of that information to take another giant leap toward improving on what they already do.
The information age made us lazy. We developed a new technology, protected the intellectual property, and then profited on the fact that nobody could duplicate what we did. But when we collaborate with our would-be competitors, it makes us step up our game and get even better.
The world is ready for this, too, as evidenced by Apple Inc. and IBM stock both rising 1.5% after the announcement that they would be working in collaboration.
Here’s a great question for you to consider in your business: If a public that is almost as divided in brand loyalty as the two tech giants are, respond so favorable to their favorite company collaborating with their nemesis, what do you think the public would do in response to you teaming up with your competitors to deliver better products and services in your industry?
Athletes have known for several years what companies are just now starting to accept: When you train with your competition, you both see drastic improvements. In business, we need to realize that our competition has now become our greatest ally in the collaboration age.
In a joint statement from IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty, and Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook, they said that the collaboration would help to redefine the way work gets done, address key industry challenges, and spark true mobile-led business change. In other words, it will make them both better companies.
The collaboration age is upon us. If you do not pay attention to this and continue to do business like you did in the information age, then you will go the way of the dinosaur, the dodo bird, and Blockbuster video.