5 Companies That Came To Win This Week

The Week Ending April 4, 2014

This week's roundup of companies that came to win includes a new vertical industry initiative by Salesforce.com, significant channel program overhauls by Samsung and Ixia, hints of changed thinking at Microsoft and another acquisition by a leading solution provider.

Salesforce Recruits Channel Assistance For Vertical Industry Initiative

Salesforce this week unveiled a plan to develop expertise and software for vertical industries and it's counting on the channel for help. President Keith Block said the cloud software developer is building the applications on its Salesforce1 CRM platform, and the company will step up its use of ISVs, systems integrators and other partners as part of the initiative.

A new Industries Business Unit overseen by Vivek Kundra is initially focusing on the financial services/insurance, health-care/life sciences, retail/consumer products, communications/media, public sector and automotive/manufacturing industries.

Samsung Launches Partner Program Overhaul

Samsung Electronics America this week unveiled plans to revamp its partner program, the biggest overhaul since Samsung established a partner program in 2004. The new four-tier Samsung Team of Empowered Partners (STEP) program includes significant increases in sales performance incentive funds, and an improved partner portal with new deal registration capabilities, and tools partners use to request market development funds and back-end rebates.

Partners say the program overhaul was needed -- even overdue -- for Samsung to stay competitive with Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. Samsung's 13,000 U.S. partners are a critical element of its go-to-market strategy for its PCs, tablet computers and solid-state memory products. The program updates will be phased in starting April 7.

A More Accommodating Microsoft Reveals Windows 8.1 Update Details

Microsoft, holding its Build developer conference this week, shared more details about the upcoming Windows 8.1 Update, saying the operating system will be easier to use by people who prefer keyboards and mice. That's an admission the touch-enabled Metro interface doesn't appeal to everyone. The company also open-sourced more of its .NET code and launched a foundation as part of that initiative.

All this comes on the heels of Microsoft's launch of the Office application suite for the Apple iPad last week. It's too soon to declare these moves to be clear signs of a more open, "think different" Microsoft under new CEO SatyaNadella. But could they hint of bigger changes to come?

Ixia's New Channel Chief Shakes Up Partner Program

Samsung isn't the only company undertaking a channel program overhaul. Ixia, a developer of network monitoring and testing systems, this week rolled out a new partner program designed to pull together the hundreds of partners the company gained through its acquisitions of Net Optics in October, and Anue Systems and BreakingPoint in 2012.

The initiative is being led by Lori Cornmesser, the former Juniper Networks channel executive who joined Ixia in October as the company's first worldwide channel chief.

Perficient Expands Vertical Industry Practices With BioPharm Acquisition

Perficient continues to set the pace for solution providers expanding into new technology practices and vertical industries through acquisitions. This week the St. Louis-based company acquired BioPharm Systems, a supplier of IT solutions to the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries, for $17.6 million.

Perficient, No. 79 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, has been among the more aggressive solution providers in making acquisitions to expand into new markets. Earlier this year it bought ForwardThink Group, a financial services technology consulting firm, for $46 million. In the past two years, it also acquired companies with technology practices around Salesforce.com, IBM and Oracle products.