ASG Reinventing Itself Through The Channel

ASG Software Solutions, the Naples, Fla.-based enterprise software vendor, continues its journey of reinvention through the channel.

"These transformations are not easy," Mike Mayer, VP of channel at the company once called Allen Systems Group, told CRN.

"Moving from a direct-sales organization to a channel organization doesn't happen overnight. And it doesn't happen without executive support at the highest levels of the organization. We have buy-in throughout the organization," Mayer said.

[Related: ASG Software Targets Channel In New Cloud, Content Software Push]

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Since launching its channel program in January, ASG has signed some 70 partners, including more than 30 in the United States.

For a software company founded almost three decades ago around mainframe product lines, modernizing the go-to-market strategy is a necessity.

"We know this transformation is important, we know it's possible, we know we have to do it now," Mayer said.

The goal is that within two years, ASG will have 80 percent of its sales coming through the channel. ASG execs are shooting to reach that target in increments -- 30 percent by the end of this year, 50 percent by the end of 2015.

"50 percent is a healthy channel organization, 80 percent is a major shift. We know that's a lofty goal and a major shift in the organization," Mayer said.

ASG offers three lines of business products: content management; cloud; and, on the legacy side, mainframe systems.

ASG started expanding a few years ago through several acquisitions in the space of distributed computing and cloud-management software, an area where sales are primarily indirect and channel partners service the majority of business customers.

The company's enterprise software now runs somewhere inside 70 percent of the Fortune 1,000, according to Mayer. But the company isn't a behemoth, and it needs partners to continue converting sales and deploying its technologies.

"We're not an organization the size of IBM. We need partners to help us service our customers. When you look at the channel, it really has to do with joint solutions. That’s where I think the true value is," Mayer said.

When the company launched the ASG Global Partner Program in January and announced its focus on cloud and big data solutions, it also implemented a cloud innovation team focused on freshening the brand.

NEXT: Winning Partners And Customers

Recruitment of partners is primarily focused around the company's Cloud Factory 8.0 suite of products that offer anything from virtual workspaces to full data center automation.

Robert Lutton, VP of Sandhill Consultants, a global solution provider originally founded in the U.K., told CRN that working with such a nascent channel program has been a boon.

"They are so new that they’re willing to be flexible. They’re not rigid," Lutton told CRN. "It’s almost like we’re their prototype. They’ve been able to align their partner management team and product strategy team for us to provide input and a bi-directional relationship."

Sandhill Consultants specializes in enterprise data modeling, architecture and analysis, servicing large customers in America and internationally. ASG has enabled the solution provider to "bring to the table a broader understanding of a class of data, business applications and enterprise modeling needs," Lutton said. "Most of our joint opportunities exist in the same space, customers grappling with these issues. Those are the type of customers we can bring an offering like ASG and give them a jumpstart to really understand where their data is, how all their processes interconnect, how they can do impact analysis."

The deal with ASG made sense because the company's products map to Sandhill's core focus area and customer needs, he said.

"Enterprise management, modeling, and knowledge has come back in vogue. People want to trace their data, understand their processes and how it’s all connected. ASG is perfect because it will trace that data lineage and impact analysis. We say if you can trace it, you can trust it and that’s a big thing for a lot of our clients," Lutton said.

The cloud business has reinvigorated ASG, Mayer said, and the company offers a full line of products from desktop-as-service, to an IaaS platform to software application delivery, provisioning and monitoring solutions.

"People are trying to find better ways of doing things, and they are looking for a change from their legacy software. And that's created tremendous opportunity for ASG to gobble up some share," Mayer said.

It's a strategy that's working thanks to the company's new partners who bring with them existing relationships and the ability to sign new customers.

"That's where we're winning today. We're winning those new customers with partners," Mayer said.