Qlik Details Partner Program Upgrade, Margin Increases

Business analytics software developer Qlik is undertaking a significant overhaul of its partner program, including simplifying the program's structure, boosting margins and taking steps to eliminate channel conflict.

Qlik is also stepping up its partner recruitment efforts in North America, Qlik's channel executives told CRN in interviews at its Qonnect 2015 partner conference in Dallas this week.

On Tuesday, the second day of the conference, partners were generally giving the company high marks for both its partner efforts overall and the specific plans to enhance the Qlik Partner Network program.

[Related: Qlik Extends Capabilities Of 'Self-Service' BI App, Offers Development Platform For Partners]

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"They've been far and away the best company we've ever partnered with," said Albert Hughes, CEO and chief technology officer of partner Axis Group, a Berkeley Heights, N.J.-based solution provider. "Partners are integral to their business model." He praised the new partner program elements after a keynote in which the changes were detailed.

Qlik has some 1,700 channel partners, including solution providers, master resellers, systems integrators and OEMs. While Qlik is based in Radnor, Pa., the company was founded in Lund, Sweden, and the huge majority of its partners are in Europe and other regions, reflecting the company's European heritage. There are only about 80 active partners in North America, said Christof Majer, vice president of global partner sales and Qlik Partner Network, in an interview with CRN at Qonnections.

But starting this year, the company is taking a more partner-centric approach to its go-to-market strategy in North America and is recruiting more partners to cover additional geographic regions (particularly in the western U.S.) and vertical industries, and partners with expertise in specific business functions.

Qlik is also looking to hire a channel chief for its North American partner operations, Majer said.

In 2014, resellers accounted for 52 percent of the company's license sale revenue, although a couple of big deals in this year's first quarter pushed that figure to more than 60 percent, Majer said. When partner referrals and partner-influenced deals are counted, the channel impacts 75 percent to 80 percent of Qlik's sales, according to Majer.

Qlik's channel partners give the vendor a worldwide market reach it couldn't otherwise achieve, CEO Lars Bjork said in an interview with CRN at Qonnections. "I don't know of any other software company of our size that has our global reach," he said, noting that solution providers from 65 countries are attending the event.

Bjork said Qlik also relies on its partners' vertical industry expertise. "It's a highly profitable way of entering lots of markets," he said. "For us to have that coverage model, on our own payroll, it would be just impossible. And I think that is where the [business analytics] market is going to go."

The revisions to the Qlik Partner Network program will be phased in during the second half of 2015. The program will accommodate solution providers, implementation partners, technology partners, OEMs and master resellers, the latter essentially playing the role of distributor in countries where Qlik itself doesn't have a presence.

The solution provider, technology partner and implementation partner categories will have a standard solution provider tier for active partners and an elite tier for partners who sell license revenue of $500,000 or more. The program also includes a new entry-level tier for "registered partners" that are just starting to work with Qlik.

Starting in the third quarter, Qlik will increase solution provider and elite solution provider margins to 33 percent and 43 percent, respectively -- up 10 points from what the company pays today. There also will be bonus margin points for software license deals worth more than $25,000. Registered partners will earn 23 percent margins.

Partners also will have the opportunity to resell the company's new Qlik DataMarket syndicated data service, earning 20 percent margins on annual subscriptions -- including annual renewals.

Another significant change: Qlik is segmenting customer accounts into enterprise accounts (with 5,000 or more employees), with Qlik sales managers allowed to pick their accounts, and commercial accounts, where partners will predominate. But the company will not levy a financial "disincentive" when partners sell into named accounts.

"It's exciting to see. I think [this] removes a lot of barriers for working with the Qlik [sales] reps now," said Ichan Stall, co-founder and sales vice president at Crunch Data, a Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based solution provider and Qlik partner. "You've got some really strong incentives for the partners, so it can be very lucrative." During a conference session, he praised the "transparency" of the simplified, single-base design of the program.

"It's very important for us to have the visibility and predictability into what our margins are going to be, albeit you need a little bit of flex in that for certain deal sizes. We like that, we're OK with that," said John Horner, a partner with the business intelligence practice at Armanino, a San Ramon, Calif.-based solution provider.

Horner expressed satisfaction with "the move to have a more consistent base margin, so that we know and can predict from year to year what we're likely to make on deals."

Qlik also intends to work to correct what Brooke Cunningham, global partner marketing vice president, called a "brand issue" during a keynote presentation. Qlik used to be known as "QlikTech" before changing its name, and that continues to pop up. Some people think QlikView, the name of the vendor's flagship product, is also the company's name. And some third-party companies have "Qlik" in their name, and Cunningham said Qlik would work with those companies to make changes.