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Tableau Channel Chief Julie Bennani On New Partner Program And What Being Acquired By Salesforce Means For Partners

The new Tableau Partner Network, with tracks for resellers, service providers and technology partners, is designed to provide partners with more opportunities and incentives, better visibility and more consistent requirements and expectations.

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What has been your focus during the first six months on the job?

In the first three months it was getting to know the leadership team [and] the partner ecosystem from a macro perspective, what business models we had activated, at what scale. And understanding the differences—we call them ‘theaters.’ And from that, understanding what we had from a sales motion perspective, an incentive perspective, program perspective. All the core things you need when you are running a partner ecosystem globally.

So that was the first three months. And then recognizing a couple of major gaps. We have not changed, essentially, our program approach for quite a while other than tuning incentives for resellers and doing a few things in-market. And so that priority of shaping what we just announced as the Tableau Partner Network, really getting a holistic approach there and a consistent approach across the three business models of reselling, services and ISV. That was a top priority. It was also a top priority for our CEO and an ask of my boss, [Executive Vice President of Sales, Services and Support] Dan Miller, so it was on the list as I came in.

The good thing is I have a team of very good partner leaders, three global leaders by major business models. I have one individual focused on our global [systems integrator] relationships with Accenture and Deloitte, from a sell-with perspective. I have a global leader focused on our technology partnerships, which is two partner types: our cloud service providers in AWS, Google and Azure from Microsoft. This leader, just within the last six months, his team, in combination with our Asia-Pacific team, booted up a relationship with Alibaba for China, which is going to be great.

The third global leader is driving our embedded approach, which is kind of a mix of partner types. Tableau had an old OEM model for on-prem[ises]. When we look at the direction of the embedded strategy from a technology perspective and customer adoption, you kind of bifurcate the channel approach or the partner approach. We needed a more modern OEM approach and so we are rebooting that OEM piece and right now are piloting some things on the back end to get clear on the core direction there. In addition, we’re trying to activate high-potential ISVs.

So that’s the three global leaders. And then I also have three theater—regional—partner leaders. They’ve all got really good industry experience. Between those six leaders, from the partner sales perspective, it was a good team to land with. I also have to build up some global functions. When I talked about the priority list, I have to build up a muscle within Tableau at a central level and a team around strategy and programs. That was also part of the gap, how to make fast progress on a program, and then also start building this team within the global organization.

What has been your biggest challenge in the six-month time frame?

Well, just given that landscape that I told you a little bit about, it’s been a mixture of priorities and resourcing. This is always the case. Prioritization is the biggest challenge. And setting expectations with partners. The good thing is that our Tableau ecosystem is very patient and very dedicated to Tableau. But as we start to really combine with Salesforce and figure out the leverage across [the two companies], I think the pace will increase. We just need to continue to think about what are the core foundational pieces that we need from a global running of the ecosystem versus what can we do nimbly in-market and then build up as we continue to mature the partnering model, generally across the board.

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