Intel Partner Alliance Aims To Recognize Partners’ Unique Business Models

‘We should absolutely have the construct of this program [be] a reflection of the partners’ business models, not ours,’ says Eric Thompson, Intel’s general manager of global partner enablement, of the new unified channel program that’s set to launch in January.

When Intel launches its new unified channel program at the beginning of next year, the chipmaker is hoping to better reflect the diversity of business models among its partners and give them the proper recognition for growing with Intel, which means better ways to maximize program benefits and earn points for redeeming products.

The new program, Intel Partner Alliance, is now set to begin in January 2021, the company said at the virtual Intel Partner Connect Tuesday, after previously saying it would launch in the fourth quarter of this year.

[Related: Top Intel Sales Exec Vows ‘One Intel’ Approach Will Boost Partners]

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Eric Thompson, Intel’s general manager of global partner enablement, said the delay wasn’t the result of falling behind internal schedules and was instead based on feedback from partners around the world who are entering a busy and challenging end of a year that has tested many businesses.

“We started to get good feedback from partners through our field teams that said, ‘You know, Intel, why don’t you just start fresh in the new year with the new program?’” he told CRN. “Like, why try to do that in the midst of a Q4 that’s been such an incredibly challenging year for everybody?”

When it launches, Intel Partner Alliance will merge the chipmaker’s existing Intel Technology Provider, Intel Cloud Insider and Intel IoT Solutions Alliance programs, with the goals of simplifying access to partner resources and making it easier for different kinds of partners to collaborate.

But the new program will also bring another benefit to the tens of thousands of partners that will be joining: a better way to reflect and recognize their unique business models and the different ways they resell and interact with Intel technologies.

“We should absolutely have the construct of this program [be] a reflection of the partners’ business models, not ours,” Thompson said.

Intel Partner Alliance will accomplish this in part by having different roles with different requirements for reaching the program’s Gold and Titanium tiers, improving partners’ ability to maximize their benefits. Roles include distributor, ODM, OEM, solution provider, services integrator, independent software vendor, cloud service provider and design services partner.

“What’s fundamentally different about this structure being more partner-centric versus Intel-centric is those tiers are specific to each of the different roles because the way that we go about measuring the business relationship is quite different,” Thompson said.

For instance, the requirement to reach the top Titanium tier for large, global ODMs is $15 million, which is significantly greater than the $2 million Titanium requirement for local OEM partners.

“What’s important about that is if we were to put this back into a monolithic structure, it would be very difficult in order to have what we would consider a contextually relevant home for that broad assortment of partner roles and types that truly are a reflection of our entire industry,” Thompson said.

Intel recognizes that many partners have evolving business models and, as a result, may fit into multiple roles. Thompson said Intel is assigning each partner a primary role that is most relevant to its business model ahead of the Intel Partner Alliance launch next year, but then secondary roles will be issued once the new program has actually begun.

This means that Intel will be expanding how it measures the various ways partners do business with the chipmaker. For instance, if a partner is primarily an OEM that builds systems using Intel components but also resells systems made by other OEMs, Intel will track sales activity both ways.

“In that case, we will measure both component purchases they would use in building their own systems,” Thompson said. “We also get reporting through distribution on those branded systems from [multinational OEMs], which is mostly what a solution provider would do. We’ll associate all of that, even though they’re an OEM role, and they earn points on all of that, regardless of which role that they’re in. Therefore, they’re not losing out on any benefits by being anchored in one role or the other.”

In addition, for the first time, Intel has developed a way to track Intel-based sales activity through platforms made by ODMs, opening a new way for partners to earn points on sales.

With these changes and the extra flexibility with roles, Intel Partner Alliance likely will make it easier for many partners to earn more points, which they use to redeem Intel products, according to Thompson.

“Most partners are using those points today to redeem against product purchases because it really just helps their financials,” he said. “They can effectively use it that way to lower their financial burden associated with running their business, and they find it really valuable in that way.”

While the new roles will impact how partners qualify for different tiers, roles will also impact the kind of content partners receive in the Intel Partner Alliance web portal, which brings together multiple disparate systems, including Intel Partner University, into an interface that requires one login.

“There’s a level of personalization that comes associated with that role: the core content that gets delivered [and] the campaign information, [which] will be oriented around that role so that we are providing a more contextually relevant experience,” Thompson said.

Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor, said Intel’s authorized distributors have played an increasingly important role in helping the chipmaker’s partners navigate Intel’s partner programs, and that will continue to be the case with the Intel Partner Alliance.

“Being in a position where we can remind them that they have these new benefits within the program and how they can take advantage of them, where their education opportunities are and how they earn points and how they can redeem them and what they can do within the program— I think it’s important and very valuable. It’s a great opportunity for distributors to be able to provide this,” he said.