Intel To Meld Partner Programs In Q4 With Intel Partner Alliance

The chipmaker is on track to merge Intel Technology Provider and other partner programs into Intel Partner Alliance, which will feature a unified user experience and AI-based personalization. 'One of the key things we want to do is make it a lot easier for partners to engage with us and open new doors to grow with us,' Intel's Eric Thompson tells CRN.

Intel is set to launch Intel Partner Alliance in the fourth quarter as a unified program that combines all previous partner programs in a bid to increase collaboration across different partner types, from cloud service providers and independent software vendors to value-added resellers and system integrators.

Eric Thompson, Intel's general manager of global partner enablement, told partners at the virtual Intel Partner Connect Thursday that programs like the Intel Technology Provider program, Intel Cloud Insider and Intel IoT Solutions Alliance will merge into one by the end of the year, allowing it to meet a deadline set when the company unveiled Intel Partner Alliance in March 2019.

[Related: Intel Expands Channel Relief To Help Partners With Cash Flow]

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Intel last fall launched Intel Partner University, a new training tool, and Intel Solutions Marketplace, a new collaboration and lead generation tool, as two main pillars of the forthcoming partner program.

But when Intel Partner Alliance officially launches near the end of the year, it will bring all online partner services into a unified user experience, Thompson said, meaning partners will no longer need to log in to multiple services to keep up with the latest information from Intel.

"Today, our partners might be participating in one or even up to three distinctly different partner programs, which we've gotten lots of feedback from partners that that makes it difficult," he told CRN. "And so one of the key things we want to do is make it a lot easier for partners to engage with us and open new doors to grow with us as we are growing in some of these new data-centric arenas, rather than forcing partners to sign up for multiple parallel programs."

One of the overarching goals is to use artificial intelligence as well as new partner types and specialties to provide personalized content, whether it's courses, products or incentives.

"It's infused with a lot more effective personalization that delivers the right information at the right time to the partner," Thompson said.

The two main tools of Intel Partner Alliance have already received substantial engagement since their launch. More than 15,000 partners taking over 200,000 courses and completing 1,000 competencies in Intel Partner University, according to Thompson. On Intel Solutions Marketplace, partners have set up over 1,000 storefronts, putting more than 5,000 solutions on display, ranging from IoT to data center.

Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor, said his company has already found a lot of value in Intel Partner University, particularly with its new badging system that awards badges to individuals who become proficient in certain products like Intel Optane memory or fields like AI, IoT or data center.

"The new badging system is something that is very unique, different and new that brings a lot of value for partners to be able to highlight areas where they have specific strengths," he said. "They can go through the training courses, they can earn those badges, and then they can use those to demonstrate to their end clients where they invested in In their business and partnered with Intel."

Intel is already cooking up improvements and additions for the parts of Intel Partner Alliance that have already been implemented. For instance, the company is expanding the number of specialties for partners that can help personalize their experience with the new device-as-a-service and managed services specialties, the latter of which will be based around Intel's vPro platform.

For Intel Solutions Marketplace, the company is expanding the number of partners that get to participate as well as the types of solutions that can be listed, Thompson said. This will allow the marketplace to go beyond its IoT foundation made possible with the existing Intel IoT Market Ready Solutions into other fields like data center, cloud and enterprise.

"We're getting good growth there, although I would say [we've governed] that, largely because we haven't finished the backend systems unification, which will happen before the end of the year," Thompson said.

Thompson said Intel Solutions Marketplace has already done a good job of facilitating one-to-one matchmaking among partners, but with plans to open the marketplace up to more partner types and more partners, the hope is that building larger chains of collaboration will enable the creation of more complex solutions that require a diverse combination of proficiencies.

"We're aiming Solutions Marketplaces to enable partners to very quickly find a peer across the ecosystem and in the industry that they might need to work with in order to meet some of these increasingly complex demands from their end customers," he said.

The company also plans to incentivize partnerships with original design manufacturers, or ODMs, to bring new devices to the channel through Intel Solutions Marketplace.

"When you collaborate with one of our ODM partners to bring a new platform to market that's oriented around the channel — notebooks, all-in-ones, small form factor devices — we'll give you a revenue credit when those ODMs are part of this program," Thompson told partners in a session at Intel Partner Connect Thursday. "It will allow you to earn points on that business relationship."

Intel has previously detailed many of the coming changes with Intel Partner Alliance, including new tiers, specialties, community groups and incentives. To help partners weather the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the company has announced it will expand the number of months it uses to measure sales and engagement to determine new tier levels for Intel Partner Alliance.

In the face of the pandemic, digital transformation is more important than ever, Thompson said, which is why it's important that Intel provides the right tools they need to succeed.

"Now is a more important time than ever that we actually make that come to life for partners," he said.