PTC Takes Partner Channel to the Next Level
PTC’s channel business has been on an upward trajectory since Kerry Grimes, DVP of the PTC partner network, joined the company five years ago. His goal was to make the company more partner-friendly. Since his promotion, PTC has a new channel chief — John Gray, senior vice president, worldwide solution provider sales.
Gray has some big shoes to fill. Today, PTC, the software and services company, says its channel business accounts for one-third of revenue; that’s up 22 percent from the same time last year. The new channel lead told us that Grimes brought trust and a brand to PTC’s channel business, fulfilling the company’s vision.
Gray steps into his role as PTC continues its journey to become a subscription-based company. He’s up for the challenge, having run channel businesses at scale, including Oracle’s $400 million plus channel business across all markets — public sector, enterprise and midmarket.
Channel Futures caught up with Gray to talk about his new position at PTC and his objectives. The company has about 3,000 active partners globally, 1,200 in North America.
Channel Futures: Clearly you have a lot of praise for Grimes, who is now your boss. Tell us more about your job and picking up where he left off.
John Gray: Kerry and the business saw that it was important to help partners through the transition of becoming subscription-based. I spent the last five years as a channel chief working for pure, born-in-the-cloud SaaS companies. With PTC’s journey to subscription, and ultimately a cloud-based model, it’s critically important that you have someone in the role that’s got that cloud and subscription DNA.
CF: What are your goals for the PTC channel?
JG: It will be a continuation of Kerry’s vision. The last thing we want to do is have a new channel chief come in and make massive changes. The vision that Kerry has laid out for the channel business is solid. My goal is to make sure that as we transition partners over to software subscription, based on my DNA, my experience and my background, is that the journey is a smooth one.
In terms of the program that we have for our channel partners, we have to make that transition from perpetual licenses to subscription as smooth as possible. The other part to the journey to subscriptions is – and often gets forgotten – is the back end. In the old world of perpetual licenses, we talk about annual maintenance and support renewals; in the new world order of subscriptions, the theme of the day is customer success.
But guess what? In a business where roughly one-third of our revenue is flowing through partners, that means we have to have a customer-success program that enables our partners to take those renewals, build their own services on top of those, and build another profit revenue model around PTC and PTC customer success.
We don’t have a partner program built around customer success today, and that’s something I’ll be looking to build out for our partners in the upcoming year.
CF: Who are PTC partners today and will that change?
JG: PTC is a 33-year-old company making big bets on industrial IoT (IIoT) and augmented reality (AR). So it’s important to recognize that the tip of the spear for us is heading down that path of IIoT and augmented reality; however, if we look at our channel base today, history will tell us that a large portion of our channel partners are PLM [product life-cycle management] and CAD [computer-aided design]-based.
We want to continue to grow our PLM and CAD partners as appropriate. That’s the business that we were built on and we’re not walking away from. My job is the care and feeding of these partners in terms of growing and developing the PLM and CAD business.
The highway ahead is IIoT and augmented reality. From our base of partners, we have a large chunk of that base who are either engaged or ready in terms of adding a new IoT practice and to make that transition. We’re also adding net-new IoT and AR partners to the mix that can enable us to go after the IIoT and AR markets and support customers going in that direction.
We also want to help customers build a customer-success component to their business. What that means is engaging with our customer post-sales to make sure they’re successful with PTC products, adoption and education.
For partners, it also means we’ll be looking to them to take the bones of a subscription renewal and build out services on top of the renewal, focusing on things like expansion, up-sell and cross-sell across the broader PTC portfolio of products.
CF: What are your top three priorities for the upcoming year?
JG: The first priority is the software subscription journey and customer success. The second is IIoT and AR, and a real doubling-down and focus on recruitment and enablement, and programs that help our partners add to their existing relationship with PTC by building out an IoT and AR business. But also, we will recruit new partners around IIoT and AR.
The third priority is profit programs for our partners around some of our key initiatives; for example, we announced a partnership with Ansys that we think is big for our traditional CAD/PLM business.
[The two companies will deliver Ansys Discovery Live real-time simulation within PTC’s Creo 3D CAD software and will be sold by PTC as part of the Creo product suite.]
That will come on-stream in [the first quarter of 2019] with our partners, so we’re making a big push for enablement on that [offer].