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Information Builders Launches New Partner Program, Promises A More 'Partner-Centric' Approach

The launch of the new Global Partner Program follows the elevation of Frank Vella to CEO and nearly a year of preparation work by channel chief Pat Bernard.

Making good on the promise of its new CEO to make the company more "partner-centric," business analytics software developer Information Builders Inc. has launched a comprehensive new channel program designed to provide partners with new enablement resources, benefits and economic incentives.

While IBI has long worked with resellers, OEMs, systems integrators, referral and co-sell partners, the New York-based company has lacked a comprehensive channel program and partner-related processes, said Pat Bernard, senior vice president of global partners, in an interview with CRN.

"In the past Information Builders has worked with partners in a more one-off, opportunistic way," said Bernard, who was hired as IBI's channel chief in March 2018. "We need to leverage partners in a strategic way. We are evolving from a partner-friendly company into a partner-centric company."

[Related: Vella Named New Information Builders CEO, Promises 'Channel-Centric' Approach]

Privately held Information Builders has been undergoing changes, spurred, in part, by an investment by Goldman Sachs in the privately held company in May 2017. Later that year the company hired Frank Vella as chief operating officer and earlier this month he was named CEO, taking over for founder and long-time CEO Gerald Cohen.

Vella told CRN that one of his goals is to evolve IBI from a "channel-friendly" company into a "channel-centric" one. And the new partner program is a key component of that effort.

"Information Builders has a long-standing culture centered on customer success," Bernard said in a statement. "We are further differentiating ourselves in the market by extending this strength to world-class partner success."

Information Builders’ flagship products are its WebFocus business analytics software and iWay data integration and management technology.

About 10 percent of IBI's new business today is generated by partners, Bernard said. "We should be driving about 30 to 35 percent of the business through the channel."

IBI has been doing business with about 400 partners, although Bernard said that number is closer to 275 partners the vendor actively does deals with, globally. Those include VARs, OEMs, systems integrators, business analytics and data management consultants, and other partner types. The company also works with technology partners, including ISVs and cloud service vendors.

Going forward the company will be looking to recruit additional partners: Bernard said the biggest opportunity is probably working with additional OEMs who embed the IBI software within their products to add business analytics and data management capabilities.

But a major focus is on working with the company's current roster of partners. Bernard said the goal of the new Global Partner Program, including its enablement initiatives, is to better invest in and manage the company's partners to ensure that "partners become part of the [IBI] value proposition."

"We are eager to see what additional opportunities will be exposed with the introduction of Information Builders Global Partner Program," said Ian Matthews, U.K. and Ireland sales vice president for NGDATA, a customer data consulting and services company that works with IBI's business analytics and data management software, in a statement.

The new Global Partner Program will provide deal registration, demonstration and evaluation software, marketing assets and other enablement tools through the partner portal.

A key component of IBI's partner initiative is the new Partner Success Framework, which offers role-based training and accreditation for sales, pre-sales and post-sales partner professionals. Bernard said IBI will be offering partners the same training the company provides its own employees in those roles.

The new program will support a range of partner sales models including reseller, co-sell, OEM and referrals with incentives, discounts and referral fees aligned with each model.

Bernard said that to ensure partners are seen as complementary to, and not competing with, direct sales, IBI is adopting a neutral compensation plan for its direct sales representatives. "There will be no channel conflict," she vows.

The new program will have three tiers. Partners in the lowest tier will largely operate on a self-service basis through the partner portal. Bernard said IBI will put much of its efforts into the 50 to 75 partners that she expects to land in the top two tiers, assigning them partner managers "and really building out these relationships as real partner assets."

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