By Olaf Swantee, CEO at Sunrise Communications AG

Batman and Robin. Tom and Jerry. Strawberries and cream. Lennon and McCartney. Ham and pineapple (controversial)?

These are just some of the most famous and feted partnerships in popular culture, if you believe what you read on the Internet. And as I live in Switzerland, I feel obliged to make the case for including bread and cheese (or fondue) here too.

Just what is it that fascinates us about great partnerships? In the best cases, I guess you would have to say that each person or element brings something unique and complementary that, when combined with the other parts, produces a result that is far better than any of the contributing individuals could have achieved alone.

I’m with Aristotle here: sometimes the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. The vast majority of so-called celebrity couples are excluded 🙂

There are also of course some very famous partnerships from the business world – such as Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the founders of Microsoft, or Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who created Google. Many of us are familiar with the stories of what brought them together. Gates and Allen were childhood friends who shared a love of computers and embarked on a teenage hacking career before founding their company, while Page and Brin met at Stanford and bickered – a lot – before a joint research project became the basis of Google.

Yet for every Allen and Gates, Page and Brin or brand collaboration such as GoPro and Red Bull, there are a multitude of other vital business partnerships hidden under the surface. These tend to be the functional alliances that basically drive the operations engine and enable companies to innovate, to go that step further, and to get things done.

Because no matter how innovative you are, how many brilliant ideas are on the table, how ingenious your best talent is, you have to know where your strengths ultimately lie, and where you need some other experts to take care of things. To use a well-known phrase: it’s not rocket science. But it’s something that I’ve seen company after company get wrong, when they either couldn’t see, or forgot, what the core of their business actually was.

In my mind, partnerships deliver real power when they:

  • Complement your very best with their very best
  • Help you avoid mistakes
  • Come to the table with new ideas
  • Make you smarter
  • Challenge you

Ultimately, the most powerful business partnerships teach you how to do business better. And, once you have tasted success together, this paves the way for a fantastic relationship based on mutual trust and respect.

That’s why I’ve been spending time with Huawei on their stand at Mobile World Congress this week. They are THE experts in network innovation and a trusted partner of my company, Sunrise. If you want to find out more about what we are working on together, you can find out on the Sunrise website.

As for my tips on the tech partnerships to watch this year – well, other than Sunrise and Huawei, obviously – I’m keeping an eye on Apple and SAP as they co-develop new business apps. Another one to watch is IBM and VMware, who are tackling enterprise data security together.

To everyone involved in a partnership, whether business or personal, may your joint interests flourish and prosper.