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March 23, 2015
By Carmen Sorice
Read any partner-program page on a vendor website, or listen to any channel executive, and you’ll find a consistent message about being “easier to do business with” (“… than their competitors’ channel programs” is presumably implied). Words like “simple,” “intelligent,” “responsive” and “optimized” weave their way through brochures and video tutorials over and over.
But as channel chiefs, we need to go further. Far more than being easy to do business with, we should strive to create a consistent, holistic, positive – and of course, profitable – partner experience. The advent of big data and social media created a need to address “the customer experience” in the retail industry; it’s time we take this same approach to channel partners.
A “partner experience management” program comprises the processes used to track, oversee and organize the interactions between a partner and a vendor’s organization throughout the partnership life cycle. The goal is to optimize interactions from the partners’ perspective and, as a result, gain their loyalty. For example, at my own company, Sungard Availability Services, we’re working to create a holistic and positive partner experience by refining our program to unite multiple partner touch points across the company. One way we’re doing this is by working with our technology alliance partners, such as Cisco, to create compelling services that we jointly take to market through our channel partners.
This “triangulation” of resources – the confluence of technology vendor, service provider and channel partner – creates a distinct value-add for customers. It allows them to get the right solution with the right support and backing to be successful, which is the real endgame.
Large hardware manufacturers, including Cisco, EMC and NetApp, have created unique programs that enable service providers to develop new offerings leveraging their servers, storage and/or software. These service providers, in turn, are offering solutions providers cloud and other “as-a-service offerings” that they can resell and that complement their own on-premises hardware sales.
Case in point: When Cisco announced Intercloud, its worldwide network of interconnected clouds, it recruited a core set of partners to adapt the Intercloud fabric and Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technologies. Sungard AS was first-to-market with a Cisco ACI-based public cloud, and we’re helping the Cisco reseller ecosystem provide hybrid cloud solutions that combine cloud services with on-premises hardware. The goal is to help resellers leverage multiple cloud platforms and position IaaS and “recovery as a service” offerings to meet their customers’ hybrid cloud requirements.
Triangulation of resources occurs in the field, too. For example, it’s not uncommon for a hardware manufacturer, such as Cisco or EMC, a service provider, such as Sungard AS, and a solution provider, such as Presidio, ACS or Aqueduct, to team up on a sales call and work together to both solve customer problems and create competitive differentiation for the channel partner.
Cloud is a major driver for triangulation. In fact, in its Advancing Cloud Sales and Operations report, The 2112 Group confirms that solution providers are adopting cloud computing differently from past technology innovations. They are collaborating with service providers, or even with peers that have cloud capabilities, ahead of developing their own. They are embracing a “sell with” model, working hand-in-hand with vendors to convey the value proposition and close the sale. The 2112 report also states that many cloud providers see the “sell with” model as a way to teach solutions providers the tricks of the trade for selling cloud services, build expertise for independent sales and generate revenue to underwrite the partner transformation process.
In the long run, partner profitably will be realized to its fullest extent only when channel providers go beyond just reselling existing cloud services and branch out to develop their own cloud capability intellectual property based on the foundation laid by their hardware and service provider vendors.
As cloud services continue to blur the lines between telecommunications and IT, agents, VARs, MSPs, service providers and other vendors are seeking new ways to partner and engage to capture customer spend in the most profitable way possible. This is a good thing. Think about the three sides of a profitable partner experience – the right technology, the right service and the right channel – and then think about the strength of a triangle in geometry. Triangles are strong, they’re sturdy, and they will not change shape since each of the three sides supports the others. If you build your own triangle in the IT ecosystem, you’ll create a resilient partnership that will last for years to come.
Read more about:Agents
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