July 2, 2018
Hitachi Vantara brought in Kimberly King earlier this year, as vice president, global partner strategy and programs, to build and launch a new partner program.
The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd., formed in Septmber to unify the operations of Hitachi Data Systems, Hitachi Insight Group and Pentaho. King is no newcomer to the channel, having worked at Progress Software and Compuware in senior channel roles that required fortifying the channel partner strategy at those vendors.
Hitachi Vantara’s Kimberly King
In April, the company launched the Hitachi Vantara Partner Program. It moved 1,700 partners into the new program.
Channel Partners caught up with King to talk about the company’s new partner program, partner opportunities, and her goals for Hitachi Vantara and partners.
Channel Partners: Hitachi Vantara had a partner program prior to you joining the company. What needed to change?
Kimberly King: Yes, Hitachi had a partner program, called the TrueNorth Partner Program, and it was very much based on transactional relationships with partners around the world. It was a very solid program more aligned around a storage resell model as opposed to a solution or business outcome model.
So when I was brought into Hitachi Vantara they asked me to look into a more encompassing program that allowed us to identify how we work with partners more holistically, and how we shape our relationship with our partners based on alignment of business models and commercial interests — and not transactions.
So, everything we’ve done and build into the last few months – and we launched it in April – is based on that business model, business outcome and understanding how our partners go to market and aligning with them that way. Every month since the launch we continue to enhance it.
CP: Tell us more about the new partner program.
KK: The new program is called the Hitachi Vantara Partner Program and it was built from the ground up. I tend to work for companies that want to realign or reimagine their partner programs, build them from the ground up and identify the best way to work with partners.
Our goal was to make the program future-proof. What I found when I got to Hitachi [were] five distinct partner programs aligned behind types of partners; we had a GSI program, a resell program, a services program, a service provider program and acloud program. Each of these programs had different goals and objectives; [they weren’t] aligned.
I completely eliminated that and now we have one simple program for all partners that we believe is agile and has a future-proof foundation that’s based on the partner’s business model.
The program is based on how we drive solutions, and not products. Everything we build now is about that solution so, internally, we rebuilt our joint business planning process that focuses on core initiatives, solutions, route to market and …
… where our partners want to go.
CP: What does this mean to existing and new partners?
KK: Our new foundation is based on four partner types that we have today: resell partners; there are managed partners who deliver managed services or solutions; we have deliver partners who deliver services with or for us; and we have our create partners, which was a hybrid in our old model, some of whom were handled by our product team and some handled by our alliance team. So today we have a combined approach with our global products organization where they define with us the route to market, we look at a whole product offering, and we have a strategy and governance around partners who co-create solutions with us; co-create [and we] produce; or we embed in their product.
We’ve also changed our contracting process — previously, everyone had to sign a resell agreement and then get it to the business model where it is today. Now, all partners sign a base agreement around the partner program and the addendum they sign is based on what they’re going to do — resell, managed services, hosted services, etc. They can have one addendum or four addend[a].
CP: Does the program have a tiered model?
KK: No, it’s based on competency, such as data insights, data governance, IoT and infrastructure. About 80 percent of our partners have a competency around data and infrastructure and they’re looking to grow it around IoT, data insights, or cloud.
CP: Does the company want to find new partners?
KK: Yes, we’re looking to expand our partner base worldwide. We have profiles and targets around the world and we’re actively recruiting partners. We’re also aggressively working with our existing partners to move them across competencies. Many of our partners want to have all four competencies.
We expect that 20-30 percent of our partners this year will move across competencies and have two or three competencies over and above what they have with us in data infrastructure today.
CP: What should partner expect from Hitachi Vantara?
KK: We’ve invested heavily in our training and competencies, marketing programs and agency support, and this idea of concierge services – or red-carpet service – for our partners, allow[s them] … to go aggressively after multiple competencies so they can grow their business and target new markets. We believe that partners are key to our success and expect to see a partner in every one of our deals.
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