Top Gun 51 Profile: Andy Dignan on Refocusing Five9 Partner PrioritiesTop Gun 51 Profile: Andy Dignan on Refocusing Five9 Partner Priorities
Learn about the program changes this Top Gun 51 winner has made and the key partnerships Five9 has forged.
October 26, 2020
Two years ago, Andy Dignan left Cisco to join Five9, the cloud contact-center-as-a-service (CCaaS) provider. Tapped as SVP of professional services, Dignan was among several Cisco alums who decided to reunite with Rowan Trollope. Five9 had recruited Trollope, who led Cisco’s collaboration and applications group, to take over as CEO in May 2018. Less than a year after Dignan’s arrival, Five9 promoted him to SVP of global channels and services.
Five9’s Andy Dignan
Five9 began expanding its go-to-market efforts with the launch of a channel program in 2016. Dignan, a veteran of the contact center industry, has accelerated Five9’s channel to tap the growing shift to CCaaS.
Introduced last year, the Top Gun 51 recognizes premier leaders in the indirect IT and telecom channel. The criteria includes advocacy for the channel and commitment to partners’ business success. There’s also dedication to earning the channel’s trust.
Chosen by a panel of distributors, master agents and industry analysts for this year’s Top Gun 51 list, Channel Partners spoke with Dignan last week. The following are some highlights, edited for clarity.
Channel Partners: What has changed since joining Five9 two years ago?
Andy Dignan: When we joined two years ago, we were at $250 million in annual revenue with the goal to continue to grow the business with digestible growth, as our CFO says. We are on target for our growth aspirations, with much it fueled by our commitment to the channel and partners. When I joined the company, the channel and our partner go-to-market was just beginning to take off. In order for Five9 to go from a $250 million company to where we want to go, the only way to do that is to scale through strategic partnerships. That was a big reason why Rowan came to Five9 as our CEO, given his background in enterprise software, and brought in some additional leaders, including myself, on top of the amazing talent that was already here to help continue to scale the partner business.
Andy Dignan of Five9 is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.
Channel Partners: Where is it now?
AD: We need to accelerate the growth of our partner and channel business. If you look at our channel business, it includes our reseller business and our master agents. But I also have responsibility for our global systems integrators such as Deloitte, Accenture, etc. And then we also have our ISV partners, as well as our technology partners from an alliance perspective, like Google, Salesforce, ServiceNow, etc. If you look at our overall partner business, we’re tracking toward anywhere from 50-60% of our partners influencing sales. And overall, that’s a high percentage of our partner business. We’re just getting started in terms of scaling the channel business; however, the early results show that things are going well.
CP: What are some of the programmatic changes you have made?
AD: We realized that we needed to focus on partners who want to go deep with Five9 — essentially partners that could have an exponential effect on our customers’ experiences. The strategy was to double down on those partners willing to go all-in with Five9, and enable them to do what they do best. This is where we came up with our new XFactor partner programs — specifically built, not as a one-size-fits-all, but specific to …
… the various partner personas. In addition to Steve Plunkett who runs our global systems integrator partnership, and Walt Rossi, who leads our tech alliances and ISVs, we brought in Jake Butterbaugh, [VP of channel sales], to execute our balanced route-to-market strategy. This meant continuing to double down on our master agent and referral partners while also scaling through some top solution providers and integrators like AT&T and CDW, to name a couple. We are executing on that strategy, and the response from the channel and partner community has been amazing.
CP: What key partnerships have raised Five9’s profile in the partner community?
AD: If you look at some of our partnerships, we have always had a mix of master agents, resellers, SIs and solution providers. The key difference on how we raised our profile within this community is really about three key areas of focus: 1) making sure Five9 is aligned at the executive level with our partners; 2) working closely with their sales teams (whether it be direct sales or subagents); and 3) investing more in our systems, processes and marketing efforts to help make it easier for them to do business with Five9. That is why our partner community has grown exponentially with the likes of global partners from Avant, Telarus, AT&T, Deloitte, CDW, CallTower, Exactive, Nuveto, Babble and many more from around the world.
CP: When the pandemic struck this year, how did that affect your momentum?
AD: A lot of customers were prepared more than others, especially on the UC side, because they were able to send knowledge workers home and they were already equipped to work remotely. But for a lot of customers, specifically in the CCaaS arena, it’s a lot more complex. If you’re going to send agents to go work from home, you need to be sure that the business has a solid network to provide high-quality voice calls so agents can handle calls remotely. We saw pretty rapid growth of customers coming to us that had been previously on the fence, now wanting to move their contact center to the cloud essentially overnight. We had customers asking, “How fast can you turn up 1,000 agents? Can you do it in a weekend?”
CP: Was there anything you needed to do to enable your partners to address this sudden demand?
AD: We had to go into overdrive in terms of enabling our partners to either a) accelerate helping them to do that on their own, or b) leverage the resources that Five9 has internally to help them help their customers. We had all hands on deck. When opportunities came in from partners, we would just put together a tiger team and do whatever it took to help get their customers happy.
CP: Last month you announced VoiceStream for partners and systems integrators. What do they need to know about that?
AD: VoiceStream is really exciting because it’s something that has existed in the on-prem world. It can tap into live voice streams, anything that was coming into a customer’s environment from their service providers. But when you get into cloud, obviously, the voice streams can be coming from a lot of different areas. Partners are going to be able to build applications on top of the Five9 platform to leverage real-time voice for things like call recording, and the Five9 AI platform can assist the agents with improving the customer’s experience with suggestions or simply making their workflow more automated.
CP: Where are you in creating the ecosystem for this?
AD: We’ve announced the API. We have a handful of beta customers that are now live with quite a few use cases across health care and in the financial vertical. We’ll be sharing more in terms of who those customers are and what the use cases are over the coming quarters.
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