Acronis Revamps Channel Program, Turns To Partners For Key To Success

In the nine months since he was promoted to lead channel programs for disaster recovery and backup solutions for vendor Acronis, David Junca has been working to revamp the company's channel program and realign it with partner wants and needs.

A big part of that plan means turning to partners themselves to find out what would help them grow their businesses through Acronis' products. To facilitate that, Acronis has launched a series of Partner Council events to bring in a handful of partners each quarter to discuss the future of the Acronis channel. The first of those events was held Wednesday night in Woburn, Mass., with three partners out of Acronis' more than 30,000 partners worldwide.

"Acronis has had a long history with channel partners. We have a business model leveraging this as our primary route to market," Junca said. "I think that it was important to take a step back and look at how consistent we were with driving relationships with them."

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The changing industry "disrupted" the Acronis channel programs, with indirect sales revenues in the U.S. dropping to between 45 and 50 percent of the region's total revenues, Junca said. That percentage compares to 70 to 80 percent of revenues driven by indirect sales in international markets.

Junca said that he hopes to raise channel revenues in the U.S. to 85 percent of total company revenues in the next two years. Junca said his mission for the Acronis channel program is threefold: to become a strategic part of partners' businesses, reinvent profits for the channel and help show partners how they can help Acronis accelerate business. To that end, the company's first-quarter goals are to implement new tools and operating procedures in alignment with that mission, Junca said.

Acronis has already seen positive steps toward that goal, Junca said. In the nine months since he was chosen to lead the channel programs for the U.S., Junca said that the company has registered more deals through its channel partners than in the previous 15 months.

"We were the same two years ago, but our strategy is to make investments a much, much bigger [part of the] picture," Junca said. "For us, 2014 is a series of firsts like [the Partner Council]. ... The excitement comes from the opportunity that we address."

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One partner at the Wednesday Council event said he is glad Acronis is revamping its channel approach.

Jason Schuerhoff, vice president of sales at Sublime Solution, said his wish list for the new program is an increase in involvement from the Acronis team as well as more integration with partners and a continually evolving product. He said that Acronis needs to focus on truly aligning itself with customer needs, instead of just where it thinks is good enough.

"[It was a] fairly flat competitive landscape as far as [the old channel program was] concerned," Schuerhoff said. "With this revamped one, it seems like now they're going to hold partners accountable and distribution channels accountable; they’ll get the competitive advantage they desire."

Going forward, Acronis' Junca said that, along with a turning of the channel program, partners should expect an increase in the company's focus on the cloud. Although he couldn't provide specifics, Junca said the cloud was going to be a "significant" part of the business going forward. Currently, Junca said less than 5 percent of revenues are from the cloud-based products. However, he's hoping that will change in 2014.

"The emergence of virtualization and cloud technology has [opened] new opportunities for companies and people to try to adapt to it, but it comes with a great deal of disruption in terms of who comes into the space," Junca said. "Today I think we provide greater differentiators; we allow some of these companies to work directly with us."

Junca said that Acronis provides a range of products that appeal to traditional resellers, managed service providers as well as those making the transition to the cloud. The company's shift to focus more on the cloud going forward is in line with current market trends as more and more partners are making the shift themselves, he said.

But ultimately, Junca said, Acronis partners will be the key to success.

"It goes back to this priority, how we move from a traditional channel [to one that] is dynamic, that is helping us deliver the value," Junca said. "[Partners] are going to bring us this business. We're not."