Written by:
Alex Liggatt

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer….

Not all collaborations are equal. Sometimes two of the most unlikely bedfellows come together and make sweet, sweet music.

When Run-DMC reworked Aerosmith’s Walk This Way in 1986, musical ground was broken. The success of the single meant that Run-DMC (and rap as an entire genre) became legitimised in the eyes of a mainstream audience. Arguably, Aerosmith benefited even more as the song revived the bands’ fading careers.

Of course, not all musical collaborations are so successful – Shaggy and Sting. Brian May and Dappy. Ozzy Osbourne and Miss Piggy – you get the picture.

But surprise collaborations aren’t just confined to music. Tech can throw up its share of curveballs, too.

I can’t be the only person to have raised an eyebrow at the news that Samsung and Apple have been working together – two sworn tech enemies for as long as anyone can remember. So what’s going on?

Apparently, the firms have realised two heads are better than one (although, after Googling staff numbers across both firms I have to say it’s more like 450,000 heads).

The collaboration is about iPhones talking to Samsung’s smart TVs and allowing customers to access all Apple’s television shows and films, even if they don’t have an Apple TV. This is the first time these two companies have worked together in such a way in the TV market – they simply couldn’t achieve this level of innovation without one another.

Not that the Apple-Samsung hook-up is unique. Over the last few years, there’s been a growing trend for competing tech companies to partner with one another to create a better customer offering.

Last year, Salesforce.com went on something of a strategic partnership bender and is now working with AWS and Google Cloud to create more joined-up tech experiences for its customers. Microsoft, SAP and Adobe also announced the Open Data Initiative which will bring together customer data.

But while collaborations between otherwise fierce tech rivals are becoming more common, I can’t imagine the journey is always smooth. All relationships, whether personal or professional, take work and everyone’s looking for that magic formula that brings out the best in one another.

At big tech companies, innovation can mean bottlenecks and uncertainty. Despite having strong brands and ample funding, they can be reluctant to take resources away from core products and services.

At the other end of the scale, we find the startups. What they lack in cash flow and resources, they make up for in cutting-edge talent, agility, and minimal red tape.

By keeping their friends close and their enemies closer, the possibilities open to tech companies of all sizes are endless.

The way I like to think about is that 1 + 1 = 2. But put 1 and 1 together and in the right way it could also equal 11 – or more. Tell that to your friends, your enemies and anyone else who will listen.


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