AppSense Revamps Partner Program For Enterprise Workspace Management Solutions

As part of a yearlong overhaul of its channel program, enterprise workspace management solutions company AppSense has rolled out a series of partner program changes to become more "channel friendly" and drive more business for its partners.

AppSense develops a solution to create what Area Vice President of Channel Americas Jim Airdo calls "the best desktop ever," using virtualization technology to build the same user experience across desktops, laptops, mobile devices and more, regardless of the operating system, server environment or application in use. What makes it different from other virtualization solutions, Airdo said, is that it prevents slowdowns and crashes by locating all of a client's virtualized environments on centralized servers.

However, Airdo said that the channel program wasn't as strong as it could be when he came on board a little over a year ago. Now the company is rolling out a series of changes to its partner programs to push it toward Airdo's goal of a 100 percent channel company.

[RELATED: 2014 Annual Report Card: 22 Category Winners]

Sponsored post

"We've been on this mission to turn the perception around that AppSense isn't a channel company. We're 1,000 percent better than we were 13 months ago. We have a lot of room to improve, but we've turned the tide with a lot of partners that AppSense is moving in the right direction," Airdo said.

Part of that transition is a series of announcements of changes to the partner program on Tuesday. These changes are on top of the Platinum Tier the company launched in January, which added deal registration, demand generation and funding to a select group of partners.

First, AppSense announced the launch of deal registration and guaranteed margins for partners on sales of AppSense software. The big change coming to the program is that AppSense is reserving a channel-only approach for midmarket customers, which AppSense defines as 2,500 users or less. That means that AppSense representatives are not allowed to sell directly to those accounts, with a caveat for legal and financial clients. Partners are still invited to sell to clients with more than 2,500 users, but direct sales representatives will not be able to sell down to those midmarket clients, he said.

Second, to help make sure partners are up-to-date, the company also has launched a training and certification program. Airdo said that the cloud-based learning management tool addresses a hole the company had in its offering before. In tandem with the training program will be the certification program, which AppSense launched in January.

Third, AppSense announced that it is extending its market development funds (MDFs) to partners. The funds will be available to both current and potential partners, with extra percentage accruals for Platinum partners.

The ultimate goal of the changes, Airdo said, is to help push the company toward a 100 percent channel model. At the close of the company's fiscal year in July, Airdo said that 71 percent of the company's Americas revenue went through the channel. He said that the company is hoping to drive 85 percent this year through the channel, with the goal of hitting 90 percent next year.

"It was really a rebuilding year. We were flipping back to a channel company -- there were lots of areas of change," Airdo said. "We went through a rebuilding year, and now we've got the right pieces on the chessboard and now we just have to execute."

Airdo said that he has seen a very positive response from partners so far to the new strategic direction the company is taking toward the channel and the steps it is taking to get there. The only negative feedback they have received so far is that the company could accelerate its shift, though Airdo said 99 percent of the feedback has been 100 percent positive.

"We've been getting great, great response from the partners," Airdo said. "Almost everything they’ve asked for we've given them."

Larry Letow, president and CEO of Columbia, Md.-based Convergence Technology Consulting, said that when he first became an AppSense partner four years ago, he did not see AppSense as a channel-friendly company at all.

"Clearly, I've seen that evolution," Letow said. To be completely honest with you, that was a big problem ... It's got to be a give-and-take environment here."

However, Letow said that he has really seen a change in the company, especially with the most recent round of announcements. He said that he feels that AppSense has recognized the importance of the channel to their programs, and appreciates the company's investments to its partners. Letow said that the deal-registration announcement is "number one" for Convergence Technology Consulting to protect opportunities he develops from larger solution providers who might be able to swoop in and undercut his margins. Second, he said that he sees the marketing and training dollars invested by AppSense as important.

"They have a great product and it does great things, but ultimately it's not about motivating the customer -- it's about motivating the sales team," Letow said. "By putting these things they’ve put in place they’ve put in a win-win environment. We win because they're showing us their investment in us, and we invest in them by selling the product."

Going forward, Letow said that he just hopes to see AppSense remain along this path and continue to communicate its changes with partners.

"It’s a win-win opportunity. It took them a reasonable amount of time to get to this point. They’ve done it, and I've been blessed with it," Letow said.