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The Power of Partnerships

June 16, 2022
By Jeff Babbitt
Sr. Manager Partner Marketing

Reflections from the EMEA Partner Xchange

I was excited to participate in our EMEA Partner Xchange, held May 31 through June 2 at the Infinera office in Lisbon, Portugal. We hosted 26 individuals from 14 different partner companies. The Xchange opened with a corporate and portfolio solution update and then transitioned to multiple workshops designed to elicit broad discussion and collaboration.

Photo of participants in Infinera's 2022 EMEA Partner Xchange

What Happened at the Xchange?

Our SVP, Strategic Alliances Bjorn Anderson opened the conference, welcoming the partners from throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and reinforcing Infinera’s commitment to channel partners, who enable us to enhance the customer experience and expand Infinera’s global presence.

That was followed by two workshops, one on XR optics and the other on the management and automation journey. Beyond Technology and nLogic Sweden followed with powerful success stories regarding recent new wins.

Day two was all about workshops, including data center interconnect open optical networking, Infinera multi-vendor solution collaborations, and a PartnerPlus Program update. We also toured the customer demo lab. Seeing all Infinera’s products in one location, ready for customer demos, was inspiring.

An Unexpected Outcome

As mentioned previously, the workshops were designed to foster collaboration among the partners and Infinera. I was truly unprepared for the deep level of engagement and candid communication that started early in the conference.  I have often heard that the best partnerships are truly collaborative ones.   Early on the first day of this event, it became evident what that phrase really means and what it looks like in action.  I was so impressed by the openness of all the participants.

People in optical networking lab and presentation room

The feedback and discussions were varied and included suggestions for enhancing the value proposition in some of our marketing materials, product feature improvements, and various program enhancements. There were also a few creative application ideas for XR optics, such as connectivity to wind farm turbines and panel arrays for a solar farm – both of which have a point-to-multipoint topology. 5G mobile transport is also an ideal application for XR optics. During the conference, a partner also cleverly suggested that XR could be a good fit for hard network slicing – enabling each mobile network operator in a wholesale transport use case to be assigned its own collection of subcarriers.

I asked several partners about the level of openness and collaboration that I witnessed. First, I confirmed that they go to events like this with their other vendors and then I asked if there was this this level of open communication at the events sponsored by their other vendors. They all replied no.

When I asked a partner why they saw such a difference between vendor events, they responded that it was because Infinera was listening.  Like other relationships in life, partner relationships require investment – not just in money or time or resources, but in active listening and emotional presence.

I asked a second partner about the elevated degree of the back-and-forth discussions. They said that they could tell that we were deeply listening and internalizing their input. Because of the receptive environment, they responded with plentiful and meaningful input. The partner further commented that in most of their other vendor interactions, they don’t feel like they are really heard or their input matters. Empathy, active listening, and a bias for action makes all the difference

Yes, there was a lot of technical, business, and program information presented throughout the event. But it was the openness and willingness to engage in courageous conversations that struck me the most. In such an environment, we all get a chance to learn from each other – about what works, what doesn’t, and what might be a better approach. As I prepared to head to the airport on the final day, I couldn’t help but think that this is what true partnership really looks like, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.

If you are looking for a vendor partner that values your input and sincere collaboration and want to experience this type of event, we welcome your application to the Infinera PartnerPlus program. You can contact us at partnerplus@infinera.com.