Big Data in the Channel: An Untapped Growth Opportunity?

John DeSarbo

More than two-thirds of all IT revenue flows through indirect channels, industry analysts estimate, and transactions between IT providers and their channel partners and end customers generate mind-boggling amounts of data. Unfortunately, too few providers are tapping their channel data's full potential.

Every day, IT providers and their partners market solutions to end customers. Leads are generated and qualified. Deals are registered. Sales are made. Products are shipped (and sometimes returned). Incentives are paid. The cycle continues.

The data created with each interaction in this value chain is a treasure trove of market intelligence. Mining channel data yields invaluable insights to help IT providers answer critical questions, notably these five:

• What customers and customer segments represent the most promising growth opportunities?

• What are the highest-priority solutions and use cases?

• Which marketing campaigns represent the greatest ROI?

• Which partners are driving and fulfilling demand in the marketplace?

• What partner program investments have the greatest impact on channel performance?

Data gaps and quality issues have stymied channel managers for decades. Integrating channel data, spread across multiple disparate information systems, has proved an insurmountable challenge for many companies. In some sectors, channel partners have been reluctant to share data with their IT vendors due to concerns about how this data would be used. As a result, channel managers are forced to make decisions with imperfect information and poor visibility of channel performance.

Recent technology innovations are breaking down the barriers that prevented IT providers from gleaning insight from their mountains of channel data. New data management and business intelligence tools make it easier to aggregate and analyze channel data. Channel partners are increasingly willing to share information, provided they understand how the information will be used and receive value in return.

Despite these promising developments, many IT providers are still struggling to build channel analytics capabilities. Implementing new data management and BI tools is not enough. Industry leaders are making significant changes to their sales and marketing organizations and partner programs to enable data-driven channel management.

Sponsored by ZS Associates

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