Partner Programs Are Changing

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A few months ago, we discussed a new set of options available to solution providers when choosing cloud vendor partners. As this new cloud technology model grows in popularity, solution providers are put in a unique position. You now have more options than ever. If your traditional technology vendor has yet to embrace cloud computing or lacks educational resources, you might want to consider doing business with one of the newer players. After all, don't you deserve to be doing business with best-in-breed partner programs?

In my various channel chief roles over the years, I've seen partner program trends come and go. Remember points-based programs? You'd meet requirements to earn points. Then you'd use those points to calculate which level of the program to which you were graduated. Things have changed indeed. And while trends may come and go, vendors will always respond to customer needs. And it's becoming clear that customers need cloud-based products.

To meet customer demand for cloud-based products, many technology vendors have moved to product suites and end-to-end solution stacks. This gives them the opportunity to meet customer needs while capturing a greater share of their wallet. In some cases, vendors have added to their product offerings via consolidation, an expeditious alternative to developing product breadth in-house.

As a result of all this growth and change, many vendors are emerging with amazingly broad product lines. Unfortunately, they are not always immediately integrated into standard operations. In fact, some product lines are so broad that different distribution strategies may be needed for different product families within the same partner program.

All of this change is driving the need for greater education and change in partner programs. Consider IBM's Software Value Plus program, which sets different requirements and authorizations for products based on complexity. In November, Microsoft rolled out a set of 29 competencies required to graduate levels within the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). And the EMC Velocity channel program is introducing "Specialties" in January that will utilize embedded revenue and training requirements to provide even greater opportunities for partner profitability.

What's behind this introduction of capabilities, specialties, authorizations and other program requirements? Consider it an effort by vendors to align partner programs with your needs.

You can also consider these changes as an effort on behalf of the vendor to acknowledge that revenue performance is not the only value a partner brings to the table. These are the vendors that understand that revenue alone does not ensure product success in front of the customer. In fact, many would argue that success and customer satisfaction is a direct result of your product expertise and ability to please a customer while making your vendor's product shine.

Partner programs are changing. Now is the time for you to re-evaluate your traditional vendor partnerships. Be sure to consider all the new emerging program advantages and trends to ensure you're getting the best support and education available. You have choices in the new channel ecosystem. Make them wisely.

BACKTALK:Contact IPED General Manager Rauline Ochs via e-mail at

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