This week we chatted with Jim Souders, chief operating officer of Adaptiva, a company specializing in IT systems management solutions developed for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager. Since joining Adaptiva in 2015, Sounders has been responsible for scaling Adaptiva’s operations and working to grow customer adoption of its solutions. Over his 20-year career in the channel, he has served as the vice president and general manager at Dorado Software and in various roles with companies such as Action Engine, Wavelink and Objective Systems Integrators (OSI).
TVG: In your 20 years on the fringes of the channel, what's the biggest change that you've seen?
Souders: I think the biggest change that I've seen is the increase in the amount of sophistication in channel management and development that's taken place. The space has evolved to encompass multiple tiers and segmentation, and we’ve also seen a great deal of partnering arrangements that manifest themselves, particularly now as you move into software-as-a-service and white labeling and so forth. It's a much more complex environment than what may have been more of a transactional environment seven or eight years ago.
TVG: Some people say that it might not even be appropriate to call it the channel anymore. It's kind of its own sales ecosystem.
Souders: I would agree. I think there's a lot of constituents and players that are involved in that ecosystem. It's not just a channel. You've got people that provide access to the markets. There's people that provide value by adding to solutions. There's people that stitch those solutions together. There's people that provide financial instruments to execute. A lot of times you have to string different elements together before you put your product into the marketplace.
TVG: What is it that partners ask for specifically out of these vendor programs? What are the benefits that they really want?
Souders: Something that I think is important for any successful channel program is that you provide clear definition of the value and the tools being provided to them. That includes sales enablement, support, and dedication to the channel. There are areas where they can get something beyond just general sales tools, general fulfillment, general financial processing. Partners want something specialized that will enable their channel, not just general way for them to be able to get your product and sell your product at a discount.
TVG: What do you think tomorrow's partners are going to need from their channel programs?
Listen to Souders' answer below.
TVG: What's the one piece of advice that you would give to partners who are looking to making a transition to providing cloud services?
Listen to Souders' answer below.
TVG: What is your biggest frustration about the channel?
Souders: To be honest, I think my frustration is that a lot of people try to participate in the channel and they don't really clearly delineate the value that they bring. They also don't truly embrace partnership, so they come to the equation just wanting to get their hand in the middle sometimes. They don't really establish where they're going to differentiate themselves and truly partner with you.
TVG: Is there a person or motto that you kind of carry with you as an influence on how you do business and how you approach your work?
Listen to Souders answer below.