This is the fourth article in a series I've been writing about perfecting your Partnering Reference Architecture (aka The Partenrverse).
If you haven't been keeping up, check out the first three here:
- Introducing the Partnering Reference Architecture
- Your CRM Is The Center Of Your Partnering Systems
- The Partnering Reference Architecture: Managing Your CRM
Now, let's dive into connecting your CRM to the Partnerverse.
Partner reference architecture - it's all about communication
As I've discussed on multiple occasions – the currency of power in a partnering relationship is always the ability to exchange data freely.
This data exchange has two fundamental components: the technical data connection, and the logical data connection. We’ll talk about both of these elements - and make the really important assertion: If you don’t have both - you’ve got nothing.
Many of the tools in the partnering ecosystem fail on the second (logical) data connection - making them very difficult to include as a part of your partnering ecosystem. Another way to say this is: Just because there’s an API - doesn't mean you can connect successfully to another system.
Technical data connection
This is the most basic element of communication between systems - and essentially, it is to determine if there is an available API. The API is typically broken down into smaller endpoints which describe the capabilities of the communication (Fig. 1).
However, if you need to get some data from the PRM (such as total co-marketing dollars), and that data is not accessible via one of the API endpoints - then you will not be able to get this information via API.
Logical data connection
While you might be able to make a technical connection between your CRM and a 3rd party tool - the organization or the setup of that 3rd party tool may be incompatible with yours.
This is very common in first-generation partnering tools. If a tool is built for a specific type of partnership (e.g. Affiliates), this may not work well for companies that need the capability to perform Co-Selling.
The connectivity between your CRM and any 3rd party tool has two parts: a technical connection (e.g. is there an API?) and a logical connection (e.g. does the data structure line up with yours?).
Not only do the systems need to talk - but they need to be able to speak the same language. A 3rd party tool could fail on either of these points and if it does - you need to discard it from your Partnering technical stack.
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