ServiceNow Partner Program Gets Overhaul And Enhancements

‘The channel partner component is critical,’ says David Parsons, ServiceNow senior vice president of global alliances and channel ecosystem told CRN.


ServiceNow is doubling down on the channel, rolling out a big overhaul of its existing partner ecosystem, and introducing new programs to help partners capture growth with the red-hot enterprise platform.

“The transformational vision and mission of the group, is really to build out a world class, global partner ecosystem, one that’s vibrant in all aspects of the word and then enabled by a number of new and innovative programs and enhancements to existing programs that will allow us to help our partners accelerate our mutual growth,” channel veteran David Parsons, ServiceNow Senior Vice President of Global Alliances and Channel Ecosystem told CRN ahead of Monday’s launch.

The announcement comes during day one of Knowledge 19, the company’s annual show in Las Vegas which kicked off Monday, and will include keynotes from company CEO John Donahoe, among others. ServiceNow has been vocal about its desire to grow from about $4 billion in annual revenue to $10 billion in the near future, and Parsons said it can’t do it by only selling direct.

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“The channel partner component is critical,” Parsons said. “When you think about any company in our industry, the idea of building out a direct only approach to get to those volumes is, well, an interesting discussion. We are clearly committed to continuing to embrace and then continuing to enhance the opportunities we have to build and develop global practices around our platform and our solutions.”

Among the changes are new “rules of engagement” for partners, and more cooperation between ServiceNow and its resellers when it comes to larger, enterprise accounts. Parsons said this means the company will work with and through partners to engage in a co-sell, co-delivery system, “versus, ServiceNow sells and partners implement.”

“It’s really important that our partners understand in the market, when we’re showing up together on joint pursuits, what those rules of engagement are,” he said. “We’re launching next generation deal registration system, with new SLAs in terms of opportunities for partners to register. There’s an automated component to it, and there’s a white glove component to our deal registration process that is going to be informed by a new center established in India.”

The center offers 24 hours a day, five days a week, support for partners. He said deal registration is an area ServiceNow needed to improve, and enhance to build greater predictability, trust, and to ‘drive greater accountability” between the company and its partners, Parsons said.

Among the other change is a new naming convention for partners that shifts away from metals, in order to immediately establishes where a partner fits among ServiceNow resellers. Parsons said he spent 90 days touring ServiceNow locations across the globe, and talking to partners to come up with a nomenclature that worked.

“The feedback I heard in the first 90 days, a lot of that was around the structure, how partners felt like they were positioned in our ecosystem,” he said. “The gold, silver, bronze framework, no one wants to be bronze or silver, everyone wants to be gold. The partner perception is, bronze and silver meant second and third.”

He used the example of the medical field, and the difference between a general practitioner and a specialist.

“There’s no distinction between which doctor is better, there’s just contextual dynamics associated with where you go to get treated,” he said. “We want our partner system to be looked at that way as opposed to good, better, best.”

Now partners are designated as registered, specialist, premier, elite, and global elite. He said the new segments are not based only on capacity. ServiceNow is looking at the partners in terms of their specialties within ServiceNow, the geography size they cover, as well their volume of sales.

“We’re taking capacity and we’re adding three additional Cs: capability, competency, and customer success,” he said. “The benefit to our partners for this approach, is that it allows them to more greatly differentiate themselves in the system and their value-added capabilities. That’s why we’re doing it.”

When asked about sales incentives built into the new segments, Parsons said every segment has a unique set of attributes. He said ServiceNow is “doing a lot” to lower the cost of the training and certification programs for partners in the segments.

“One of the core ones is this notion of unified training and enablement,” he said. “When you look at what partners really want the most, they want to train their people, and they want to build out capacity and have certified practitioners who can deliver, and then for the services they’re building they want to be able to architect and develop these services and maintain them at a pace to align with our release cycle.”

Parsons’ extensive channel credentials came from years spent at CSC, Compaq, and VMware, among other companies. He was recruited by Donahoe to the company about six months ago and is overseeing this revamp of the channel partner program.

“Having been at a number of companies over the years where I led transformations of large-scale global tech partner ecosystems, this ServiceNow opportunity, given the scope and scale of what John is doing culturally and then with the business, to take the company, from three-plus billion to 10 was an exciting proposition,” he said. “The partner ecosystem is going to be critical to that scale, and that growth.”