Hyperion Channel Maven Talks Strategy, Growth

Mercedes Ellison is a well-known channel veteran, having held top posts at both Oracle, and more recently BEA. Today, she's serving as vice president of global partner sales for business intelligence leader Hyperion, Santa Clara, Calif., a job she took nine months ago. As the work she's done there is beginning to take root, Ellison recently spoke with VARBusiness managing editor of technology Carolyn A. April to discuss Hyperion's partner strategy, investment and program initiatives.

VB: How many partners do you have currently and are you looking to grow?

Ellison: We currently have 600 partners across the globe, a mix of consulting and implementation partners, platform partners, ISVs and OEMs. We are looking to grow the number, but we want to do it in selective manner. And we think that's one of the differentiators of our program. We are putting a focus on our strategic alliances with companies like Deloitte, BearingPoint, IBM, Accenture, HP. We want to expand our business with those companies to drive into market beyond financial applications. From a strategy perspective, we sat down with these major companies and outlined specific go-to-market initiatives around specific solutions. In the last eight months, we have also taken a look at how these partners have been leveraging our technology, and we have identified over 40 repeatable assets by SIs and our regional partners building businesses around us.

VB: What about the midmarket?

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Ellison: The midmarket is a focus, one that we concentrate our partners on. Enablement becomes important there. We will invest and grow our larger partners at top end, and continue to be selective with regional partners to support a co-selling model with our existing sales force. We will also support them in development of their applications around our technology as part of a resell mode.

VB: How is Hyperion doing financially?

Ellison: Last quarter (Q2) was record revenue and net income. We generated 33 percent of new license revenue through partners. That's a growth of 19 percent quarter-over-quarter. We are also seeing an increase in revenue-generating partners. In the same quarter, the number of partners who did more than $100,000 in business with us was well above last year.

VB: Please talk about the commitment of Hyperion's top brass to the channel.

Ellison: When you look at Hyperion as a leader looking to put BI and BPM on each desktop in the enterprise, that expansion has to include partners. I can honestly say the commitment to partnering and the recognition of the role they have to play to move beyond the $700 million (in sales) mark to $1 billion and beyond is well understood. That's why they approached me, because I have worked with very large software companies in the past. We have a very loyal partner base. And we are poised for growth. As partners add to the platform, it's a great opportunity for them to expand their businesses around us.

VB: What have you been doing from a programmatic perspective?

Ellison: Some of the things we have been doing around global consistency are key. There's an emphasis on leveraging tools used here at corporate and getting them into the hands of channel managers and partners all over the world. We have in the past six months invested in enablement tools and training globally. We will be putting in place more points of contact, live and [through] e-mail, and upgrading our partner portal -- a number of things to make it easier to work with us. We also invested in a lead distribution automated tool that has been piloted in the past six months.

VB: What's been your biggest surprise since joining Hyperion?

Ellison: This is one of the best experiences I've had in my executive career. One of the first things I did was send out a partner-satisfaction survey to see where we stood, and I was so impressed with the loyalty of partners, with the investment from executives here and with the technology. The No. 1 reason I came here was after meeting with the executive management team and discovering the culture and the people here. They really, really have the passion. And with that you can do anything.