Home Sustainable Development Impacting the SDGs: Building the Global Economy on Collaboration

Impacting the SDGs: Building the Global Economy on Collaboration

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“Collaboration is a mindset, and to be successful during this time of disruption, we must recognize that, as global citizens, through the mandate of technology during this time when we must come together whilst staying apart, the entire world must now be seen and embraced as a ‘community marketplace’”

As we prepare to bid adieu to another year defined by the challenges of COVID-19, we continue to be – and will be forevermore – hyper-dependent on technology to innovate the operations and processes of our global future; from our supply chains to logistics, commerce to currencies. Technology is the epicenter of businesses in all industries and sectors, however, to achieve a competitive advantage, we must place collaboration at the center of our business models.

Where once a successful business model mandated that you put your nose to the proverbial grindstone, focusing inward, securing your intellectual property, building your team, and putting profitability above all else, this is a broken model when looking toward the future. Companies who position themselves as islands of isolation will almost assuredly find themselves struggling for relevancy, or worse, going the way of Kodak, Blockbuster, and other companies who failed to understand the evolving marketplace and innovate. The one element that all these redundant companies missed… the secret to a strong and dominant business future is COLLABORATION.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), a 17-goal, 169 target framework for the future viability of our planet – environmentally, socially, and economically, has the most critical goal sitting in the anchor position. Goal 17 – Partnerships and Collaborations for the Goals, is the magic formula to ensure large-scale impact to each of the other goals, and economic viability and durability of business. Collaboration is a mindset, and to be successful during this time of disruption, we must recognize that, as global citizens, through the mandate of technology during this time when we must come together whilst staying apart, the entire world must now be seen and embraced as a ‘community marketplace’.

Historically, collaboration – especially within the same sector, was seen as detrimental, somehow threatening a business’s success. If you shared ideas, knowledge, or approaches, you were setting yourself up for compromised intellectual property and positioning yourself to have the competition run away with your strategies and/or customers. This is fundamentally not true, and in fact, is dangerous to business growth and acceleration. Those who can’t play nicely with their competitors in the sandbox of strategy and innovation, will struggle to realize their full growth potential. While other companies are working together, passing the symbolic baton between one another, remaining fresh, accelerating growth and building strength in numbers, the lone runner, carrying the unaided baton for the entire race, will run out of steam. Ideas will become stale, innovation will be marginal, and you won’t be able to keep up with the other runners, let alone, pass them. Collaboration allows us to find new pathways, charting unexpected ways-forward. The business of tomorrow must find these unexpected pathways, or else they will be stuck in the middle of the pack, in the middle of the road. This is not a place you want to find your business, because in the middle of the road is where you get killed.

“Technology is the epicenter of businesses in all industries and sectors, however, to achieve a competitive advantage, we must place collaboration at the center of our business models”

“An economy built on collaboration, is essentially global teamwork for financial gain through impact, sustainability, economic viability, and shared knowledge”

So, what is competitive collaboration and how can you benefit from the formation of strategic alliances? An economy built on collaboration, while it can and has been defined in a myriad of ways, is essentially global teamwork for financial gain through impact, sustainability, economic viability, and shared knowledge. Several studies have shown that there is a definitive link between the efficiency, optimization, and profitability if a company incorporates collaboration as key pillar of their business strategy. Businesses who integrate collaboration were four times more likely to see strong growth to their bottom line, while seeing increased organizational agility, innovation, decision-making and resiliency. It is not only possible, but essential for companies to come together to share mutual challenges and brainstorm common solutions, without giving up a competitive advantage. A study conducted by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute finds the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, with companies who have a competitive collaboration for a period of 3-5 years, having more than 50% chance of mutually reducing company costs.

Amazon cooperates with third-party sellers to give customers options, opening the third-party sellers up to a mega pool of consumers, while giving Amazon a slice of the pie for providing customers and sellers with this opportunity to expand the marketplace.

YouTube realized a measurable value-add by collaborating with competitor Vimeo, allowing Vimeo customers to post videos to YouTube. This allowed YouTube to unlock an entirely new strategy, adding one of the most significant value-adds to their platform.

“Those who can’t play nicely with their competitors in the sandbox of strategy and innovation, will struggle to realize their full growth potential”

“…while collaboration can be a somewhat unsettling proposition, if a company has an appetite for market growth, the old adage of “nothing ventured, nothing gained” applies”

A collaboration between Microsoft and Intel allowed them both to become the unified and dominant name in the hardware and software platforms, present in almost every home and business in the world, owning one of the largest segments of the marketspace.

An alliance between Merck and Pfizer allowed these two pharmaceutical giants to unite to bring new cancer treatments to the market in an expedited fashion.

So how can collaboration positively impact your brand? Through collaboration, you can mutually introduce your brand to new markets, with the increased potential for sales, customers and monetization offsetting the competitive disadvantages. Collaboration allows you to create fresh branding and new content, reaching clients in new geographical locales or demographics. It takes so much money for a company to penetrate new markets, that many companies with brilliant global prospects often stay moored to their familiar communities. Through mutual cooperation, two competitive collaborators can work together to step into these new territories, accelerating rather than diminishing their prospects.

While we must recognize that collaboration is essential to our success and longevity, allowing our businesses to scale to new levels, we must proceed responsibly with eyes fully open. With clear objectives, understanding what each party will contribute and how each party will benefit, competitive collaboration can be a strong catalyst for business growth and expansion. Both parties must contribute equal value, either in the form of R&D, distribution network, manufacturing capacity, product development or education; and both should be comparable in size, capacity and profitability. And while collaboration can be a somewhat unsettling proposition, if a company has an appetite for market growth, the old adage of “nothing ventured, nothing gained” applies. The world is now our global marketplace, and with sustainability being the business mandate of the future, if we embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, recognizing the importance of Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals, we will position our businesses to be the leaders driving the future. Together, we are stronger.

Larisa Miller is CEO of Phoenix Global, an award-winning global boutique consulting and investment firm based in Miami. With over two decades of experience working with heads of governments and business leaders in the US and across the globe, Larisa has the exceptional talent of developing mutually beneficial partnerships spanning cultures, countries, and industries. She started her career working for the Secretary of Agriculture in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and went on to work in the office of public policy with the Governor of Pennsylvania. Larisa later worked with the Royal Family in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as their business development manager, with a focus on sustainable development, and also as head of their large non-profit foundation, which focused on women, youth, literacy and education. Larisa is an award-winning keynote speaker, and sits on several global boards. She is also Managing Partner of Akon Global, developing and facilitating Smart Cities, affordable housing and technology investments with Akon, multi-Grammy award nominated recording star, businessman, philanthropist and change-maker.

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