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Tableau Launches New Partner Program: More Consistency, More Benefits

Tableau Partner Network creates tracks for resellers, service providers and technology partners while stepping up partner requirements for 'capacity, capability, commitment and customer success.'

Tableau Software unveiled the details of a new global partner program Tuesday through which the company will rely more on partners to help customers develop “data cultures” and expand their use of Tableau’s business analytics and data management software.

The new Tableau Partner Network, which replaces a channel program that has been in place since 2011, offers a completely overhauled program framework with new tracks for different partner types, new partner tiers, and significant changes to the requirements, incentives and benefits.

Tableau executives said the new program will provide partners with more visibility and consistency in partner requirements, how partners are assessed, and more benefits—especially for focusing on establishing long-term customer engagements and for selling Tableau software more broadly throughout customer organizations. The program also takes a regional and country-by-country approach with qualifications that reseller and services partners must meet.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About The Monster Salesforce-Tableau Deal]

Plans for the new program were unveiled at Tableau’s Partner Summit, part of the company’s .conf19 customer and partner conference in Las Vegas this week.

The launch comes a little more than three months after cloud application giant Salesforce.com acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion. Salesforce has promised to operate Tableau as an independent subsidiary. While this week’s conference has included hints of plans to more tightly integrate Tableau’s software with Salesforce—a combination touted as integral to customers’ digital transformation initiatives—there are no plans to combine the two company’s partner operations.

“We are entering this age of analytical ubiquity,” said Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky in an on-stage conversation with Tableau channel chief Julie Bennani at the summit, discussing the growing use of data analytics technology throughout businesses and organizations for an expanding range of applications—not just the data analysts who are the traditional users of the company’s software. “It’s early, it’s a bell curve, but it’s happening. It’s about building the data culture.”

Selipsky, Bennani, who was hired as senior vice president of worldwide partners and alliances in May, and other executives devoted most of the Partner Summit to the message that partners must play a bigger role in bringing about that change.

“Many of our customers will not get there, don’t know how to get there,” the CEO said. “We will not get those data cultures implemented [by] many of our customers without effective relationships with partners.”

Partners attending the Partner Summit generally praised the new program.

“I like the fact that they are making it more consistent and transparent,” said Vijay Kumar, vice president of engineering at WideOrbit, a San Francisco-based technology partner that develops applications for media companies that incorporate Tableau software.

“For me the ‘aha’ moment was addressing the channel conflict,” said Mark Richards, partner with Plante Moran, a Denver-based accounting and business advisory services company that partners with Tableau. Because Tableau sales representatives work on commission, he said, conflict has been a problem for partners.

Tableau’s current partner program is “a highly reseller-, product-centric program” that does not make any distinction between different partner types,” said Dan Miller, Tableau executive vice president of sales, services and support, at the start of the Partner Summit.

Tableau currently has 1,215 partners, Miller said, including 328 resellers, 569 services providers and 318 technology companies—the latter ISVs and other partners who build software and other content on the Tableau platform that can be sold to multiple customers.

Under the timetable outlined by company executives, the new Tableau Network will launch in the April-May 2020 time frame with the company starting to enforce partner requirements in November 2020.

“This programmatic approach is the foundation of how we think about partnering with all of you,” Bennani said to the more than 950 partner representatives in attendance. “It also allows us at Tableau to reward more precisely, based on what you are doing with us and with customers, for the value you are delivering.”

The new program will have tracks for resellers, services providers and technology partners—each with their own sets of requirements and benefits. Resellers focus their business on license management and financing while services providers offer consulting, implementation, training and support services.

Each track will have Member, Select and Premier tiers—with only the latter two Tableau-branded—eliminating the Bronze, Silver and Gold tiers in the current program. Premium partners will be “top-performing partners that exemplify total commitment and have a large impact on customers,” Bennani said.

Partners will be judged on their capacity and capabilities, their commitment to Tableau and their ability to bring about customer success. For capacity, for example, partners will have to develop a business plan with Tableau that is updated annually for Select partners and quarterly for Premier partners, according to a detailed presentation in a breakout session following the Partner Summit’s keynote speeches.

The capabilities criteria focus on the quality and skill sets of a partner’s employees. Requirements will include minimum numbers of accredited sales professionals, accredited customer success professionals, certified analytics consultants and certified solution architects, according to partner track and tier.

Tableau has a goal to accredit 3,000 partner professionals in customer success in 2020 and 3,000 in analytics consulting, said Scott Kubicki, senior vice president of worldwide customer solutions, during the Partner Summit’s keynote session.

And for customer success, partners will be graded on customer subscription renewal rates and production of customer case studies.

Partners also will have to be qualified for each country or region in which they do business given that each has very different requirements and very different levels of maturity of their business and IT environments.

Tableau executives outlined the expanded range of support, content and resources the new Tableau Partner Network will provide and the incentives and benefits it will offer.

For partners on the Reseller track, for example, Tableau will offer base discounts of 20 percent, 23 percent and 28 percent, respectively, for Member, Select and Premier partners and similar discounts for subscription renewals.

Miller said that in the past year Tableau has grown the number of people within its partner organizations by 40 percent. The company is hiring territory partner development managers who will recruit new partners for specific geographies or help current partners expand into new geographies or develop new business practices.

Also new are additional 7 percent discounts for multiyear subscription extensions, licenses for Tableau software for demonstration purposes, a new deal registration system and processes, and improved automation of partner contracts.

In one session Ed Dolman, vice president of EMEA partners, said under the new program Tableau would do a better job of passing along sales leads to partners, acknowledging that the vendor has “been awful at passing leads.”

In an announcement that drew the biggest applause, Kubicki said Tableau is taking steps to reduce channel conflict between partners and Tableau strategic account managers. He said the company will offer fast-track second-tier support for top partners with customers who need quick assistance.

A common theme that ran throughout the Partner Summit sessions is Tableau Blueprint, a framework the company developed and debuted in June that provides customers with a road map for instilling a data culture and becoming a data-driven company.

Tableau executives said partners can leverage Blueprint to work with their customers and meet some of the Partner Network’s requirements.

“I think the Blueprint is a great concept. It aligns with a lot of ways partners are moving,” said Nate Jecminek, a manager with EKS&H, a professional services firm that recently became part of Tableau partner Plante Moran. EKS&H partner Timothy Deskin, who had just undergone some Blueprint training, added: “I see the opportunity, we just need to understand how we fit inside that Blueprint.”

CEO Selipsky acknowledged that partners have “an incredibly high bar” today to meet their customers’ needs and the new partner program’s requirements. “Partners just have to work really hard to make sure that all the people showing up [for] a customer are just amazing,” he said.

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