Ochab moved to Spiisee in November after developing Telarus' Canadian market.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

January 10, 2022

9 Min Read
New Spiisee Software CEO: Vendors Need Digital Ecosystems

Vendors and distribution partners need to harness digital ecosystems to improve partner experience, according to Spiisee Software‘s Brian Ochab.

Ochab took the helm of the channel automation provider in November. The Ontario-based company dubs its Everest platform an “ecosystem management platform.” Ochab said Spiisee is working to simplify the vast expanse of relationships between vendors, distribution and brokerage firms and sales partners.

Ochab worked at Telarus for two and a half years as regional vice president of Canada. He spearheaded Telarus‘ expansion into the country and developed relationships with suppliers and agents. He said his experience bridging those gaps helped shape him for his new role at Spiisee. Ochab spoke to Channel Futures about why he joined the company, what it does and his impressions of the channel.

We have edited the transcript for length and clarity.


Telarus’ Brian Ochab

Channel Futures: How did the opportunity open up for you to join Spiisee?

Brian Ochab: As you know, I spent two and a half years at Telarus, an awesome company to work for.  I’ve always had an interest in the automation of the whole partner ecosystem and creating a B2C environment in a B2B type environment out there today. I worked with Carl Watene, who’s the founder of Spiisee. I’ve known him for about 10 years. He approached me in the fall about coming over and running the company, as it started as a sort of genesis out of being just a SaaS startup to a company that had a really awesome proprietary technology and intellectual property and was gaining momentum in the market.

So for me, the timing was right. I built the Telarus business in Canada. The company was new to Canada, had an awesome value proposition, and we made some really good strides. But the opportunity for me was to do something really different and be disruptive in the market.

CF: What piqued your interest in automation?

BO: In my career, I’ve worked for vendors, I’ve worked for TSBs [formerly known as master agents] and I’ve worked for channel partners. So I’ve seen the inequities and inefficiencies in relationships between those three, and even from a vendor perspective, to its channel partners. As I mentioned before, people in the B2B environment want a B2C experience. They want to go to a platform that’s more than a marketplace. They want to go somewhere to buy something, put it in a cart and get out. But technology is very complicated. And there are different speeds, different feeds, different availabilities. Is there hardware with it? Is that hardware bought? Or is it rented? So it’s a complex kind of transaction between the three layers.

And I was seeing that every day. I saw it in my my history, but even when I was at Telarus, because I was managing the supplier relationships in Canada, and I was also recruiting partners. So I would see partners frustrated because they were dealing with three different suppliers. Even though they were working with Telarus, they had to go to three different portals, they had to register them in three different places and they had to follow up with multiple different people or portals. And it slowed down …

… efficiencies. And it didn’t allow them to agile. That kind of triggered me to this gap that we’re solving with Spiisee with the Everest platform: by automating all those transactions and relationships.

CF: Is this platform primarily leveraged toward the vendor?

BO: The platform is very robust. It actually can suit a couple of different target markets. We talk about the middle, which is the distributor/TSB, who deals with suppliers in one part of their relationship. Those suppliers have different products and solutions, and marketing tools and different commission structures and all that. And then you have your sales partners at the bottom, who go in and actually want to interact with that disti or that TSB. I want to do that in a friendly, effective and somewhat fun environment.

There are not many solutions now that offer a one-stop, cost-effective solution to the customer. You can go to Salesforce or Microsoft or Oracle and sacrifice a lot of time and resources to go to market, or try to to cobble together a couple of different platforms – PRM tools and LMS tools – and make them talk to each other. And they weren’t really designed to do that. The Spiisee platform eliminates all of that. So it’s really effective for that disti/TSB market.

Another target market is vendors. Telco companies are a really good example. You’ve got a lot of SKUs, a lot of different products, and you want your sales partners to come in and interact with you in a way that they can do most transactions digitally. You’re creating this digital ecosystem that makes it easy for a sales partner to come in. They like the interface. It’s easy to work in, which means they’ll stay longer, which means they’ll buy more, and they’ll churn less. That component of value to the customer – the TSB or the vendor or the disti – is that the customer will drive more revenue, and they’ll have a lower churn rate. But the real key is that they’re eliminating a lot of manual legacy processes through automation, which is an additional cost savings for the customer.

CF: Are you then approaching potential TSB customers saying, “This is a replacement for your PRM”?

BO: That’s part of it. The Spiisee platform has eight unique tech stacks that were purpose-built with the same DNA to talk to each other and work together. One of those is a PRM stack. I won’t go through all of them, but there’s PRM, CRM, LMS and a B2B comm front end. There are a bunch of workflows that are all purpose-built in one location. That’s really key, because you don’t you don’t have to go and cobble together these other platforms or try to integrate something with something you already have, that maybe you’ve designed yourself.

You’ve got analytics, the channel intelligence and a lens into what your sales partners are doing, what they’re buying and what they’re quoting. There’s a full blown proposal tool in the platform as well. So they can go in and do a proposal and electronically send it through DocuSign with multiple vendors. They can white-label it and customize it with their logo, colors and social media links. They can make it look like their own right in the platform, which is really key.

CF: How are the company and the platform expanding? Are you seeing an uptick in the different partner types that would be using it? Whom are you approaching?

BO: It’s going really well. We have a lot of interest. I’ve been in the chair for about three months now, and what I’m seeing when I’m talking to potential customers is, everyone’s got this on their mind. And people are listening and watching credible people like Jay McBain from Forrester, who professes this is the decade of the ecosystem, and he’s right. Creating this digital environment is going to be critical to capitalize on the shift of sales to indirect. Because there’s so much opportunity that vendors realize they can’t do it as effectively direct. So they want to do more indirect, and they can’t …… scale fast enough. So this is another tool that will allow them to do that.

And so to my point, everyone’s thinking about this. A lot of people, even though they’re thinking about this, they’ve put their toe in the water with a PRM or a CRM or something, and they’re trying to make it be what it isn’t designed to be. And the Spiisee platform being so powerful takes a little bit longer for people to kind of get their heads around on everything that it can do.

I think right now there’s a lot of inertia, and I think there are a certain amount of customer prospects out there who don’t really know what they need, but I think in the next 6-12 months they’re going to figure it out. And this is going to be exactly something that they’re going to be looking for.

CF: What are some of your goals for 2022?

BO: We have customers in Australia, we have customers in Canada, and we have a lot of really solid prospects in the U.S. right now. So I think developing the U.S. market and getting awareness for of the platform and what it does and how beneficial it is will be a focus for us this year. And to be honest, what the opportunity cost is if you don’t move your business in this direction, because everything’s moving to a digital platform.

The pandemic has helped fuel that and provide some inertia. And I think sales partners are looking at it the same way. They want to work with a TSB, a disti or a vendor  who actually can provide them with an interface that makes them more efficient and agile. That’s really what we built. And we believe, at least according to Forrester, there are only 30 companies globally who can actually do this. And there are only a handful that actually focus on technology.

CF: And I assume even fewer are interested in this channel ecosystem.

BO: Well, it’s a new thing to get your head around, right? It’s really amalgamating the whole [process]. If you’re looking at moving your suppliers and your sales partners into one platform and have it all interact and be working in real-time and have the analytics to run your business — for me, I think that’s table stakes right now for people who are thinking about where their business is going to need to be in the next five years. With all the activity in the U.S. with private equity investment and investment in driving businesses to capitalize on the indirect sales model, especially in technology, a lot of people will build a racecar, but they kind of leave the engine until the last, and this thing is something that will really help fuel all those things that they want to do.

CF: Is there anything else you want to add?

BO: I believe that what we’ve built here at Spiisee is really going to redefine the way that technology is both procured and delivered in an indirect sales model. And we’re going to enable vendors and distis and TSBs (or anybody who touches technology distribution) to accelerate what they’re doing with real-time business intelligence. I like use the word business agility a lot. I think it’s really going to be eye-opening for people to see the benefits here and at the same time align their internal resources to get ahead of this before it really explodes in the next few years. That’s why we’re out there now talking about this and getting in front of as many people as we can.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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