Outgoing AWS Channel Chief Doug Yeum: ‘We Have Been Putting More Focus On Engaging Partners’

‘In 2021, AWS and AWS partners, we have worked on hundreds of thousands of joint customer opportunities,’ outgoing AWS Channel Chief Doug Yeum said to a crowd during re:Invent this week.

In his last keynote address to Amazon Web Services partners as AWS channel chief, Doug Yeum unveiled an overhaul of the AWS partner program to introduce new partner paths, a new program for Graviton readiness and an expansion of the GameDay training program. He also encouraged partners to seek untapped opportunities in chatbots, digital assistants and change management for customers.

Yeum addressed the crowd during AWS’ cloud computing-focused re:Invent conference this week, being held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 at The Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. This year’s re:Invent was in person and online, unlike last year’s event, which was held online only due to the pandemic. Attendees of the 2021 re:Invent needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and masked.

He told the crowd this was his eighth re:Invent—and not his last.

“Today, we have over 100,000 partners providing customer offerings—and these 100,000 partners are operating across over 150 countries,” Yeum said. “And to ensure that these offerings are widely adopted by the millions of active AWS customers, we have been putting more focus on engaging partners on these customer opportunities.

[Related: Replacing AWS Channel Chief Doug Yeum: What Partners Want]

“In 2021, AWS and AWS partners, we have worked on hundreds of thousands of joint customer opportunities,” he continued. “And we‘ve doubled the number of opportunities that we share with all of you year over year.”

Yeum is set to leave AWS to work for the retail division of parent company Amazon.com. By taking a role at AWS’ parent company, Yeum is following in the footsteps of former AWS CEO Andy Jassy, who took over as CEO of Amazon.com in July, replacing Jeff Bezos. Yeum had served as Jassy’s chief of staff—also known as the “shadow” role—for almost two years before becoming head of the partner program.

Replacing Yeum is Cisco Systems veteran Ruba Borno. Yeum is credited with bringing more structure to the APN and helping to further scale it to more than 100,000 partners globally.

“McKinsey estimates that by 2030, more than $1 trillion of business value can be created across Fortune 500 companies by leveraging the cloud for digital transformation—$1 trillion,” Yeum said. “Helping companies capture this potential value can be the single biggest opportunity for AWS and all of you. These companies need help from all of us.”

Here are Yeum’s boldest statements from re:Invent this week.

Partners’ Role In Growth

This year marks the 15th anniversary of AWS, and AWS continues to grow every single year. In our last earnings announcement, we reported that we’re now a $64 billion annual run rate business that is growing at 39 percent year over year.

Partners—all of you who have chosen to build your customer offerings with AWS—you’ve played such an important role in driving this growth.

Today, we have over 100,000 partners providing customer offerings. And these 100,000 partners are operating across over 150 countries.

And to ensure that these offerings are widely adopted by the millions of active AWS customers, we have been putting more focus on engaging partners on these customer opportunities.

In 2021, AWS and AWS partners, we have worked on hundreds of thousands of joint customer opportunities. And we’ve doubled the number of opportunities that we share with all of you year over year.

Building Long-Lasting Partnerships

We’re seeing this increased focus translating into real business results. Real growth for all of you. Partners like Snowflake, Logz.io, Confluent, they’re telling us that the investments that we’re making into things like having dedicated co-sell specialists in the field—as well as [programs like] ISV Accelerate, Global Startup Program—they‘re having a big impact on your business.

Every time I hear about the results that we‘re driving with our partners, I can’t help but feel proud and grateful to be able to work with a community of partners who share our passion for customers and continuously build and innovate on their behalf every day.

And that is why I feel so confident in advocating for all of you in front of our customers and our sales teams—because I know you‘re different. You’re not just selling a new technology or the next project. You’re focused on building long-term relationships with your customers as trusted advisers. And we want to do the same with all of you—build partnerships that outlast all of us in this room.

Transformation Not Optional

We are seeing that being successful in the global market requires a shift in how you do business.

Transformation is not optional anymore. It’s essential to long-term business growth.

There are a number of SI partners globally who are demonstrating that if you decide to transform with AWS, you will grow a successful business. … And we’re seeing the same happening with our ISV partners who are working very closely with AWS to transform their software products.

Partners like Infor, VTEX, Iron Mountain, they’re leveraging AWS-native services and integrating them into their existing customer offerings to enhance the value that they bring to their customers. … As partners undergo transformations, these partners are making intentional decisions about where are they going to focus, what are they going to be great at or what other collaboration do I need in order for me to continue to scale my business?

One key area of collaboration that we’re seeing across our partners is around developing joint customer offerings.

For example, we have AWS partners Accenture and Databricks who have jointly developed industry solutions starting with Lakehouse for Life Sciences, which is a modern data architecture that unifies life sciences data, analytics and AI workloads to enable better patient outcomes at scale.

Partner Program Overhaul

As customers undergo digital transformations, their needs are changing. And their needs are becoming more complex.

They want access to a more diverse set of partners who have specialized skills and unique offerings to help them. … To improve how we support our partners, we launched the first partner path at the beginning of this year. This path was for partners who have software offerings. The goal was to provide a simplified experience that allows our partners to easily navigate through a set of curated resources, programs and benefits that are aligned to their business needs.

Since the launch, the number of validated software offerings from partners has grown exponentially. And we’ve seen a lot of consulting partners who have software offerings leverage the new partner path to innovate and sell with AWS.

Unfortunately for these consulting partners, prior to the partner path, they didn’t have a programmatic way of engaging AWS on their software offerings. This improvement was super important for them.

Today, I am excited to announce that we are launching four new paths for partners that are aligned to the offerings delivered by partners to their customers.

Partner paths will not only simplify the engagement with AWS, but it will provide a tailored experience for our partners. And we’re making it much easier for partners to engage on multiple paths that are relevant to their businesses.

More Partner Paths

We’re making enhancements to Partner Central and APN Navigate to better support self-service to allow all of you to move at your own pace.

We’re really excited to see how our partners leverage the new paths to accelerate time-to-value when engaging AWS.

For partners that provide consulting services, professional services or managed IT services, we expect them to choose the services path. And for those partners who choose the services path, an important milestone in their journey is achieving the Premier tier status.

We have 223 Premier tier partners globally today. And these are partners who have differentiated themselves, who have consistently delivered great outcomes for their customer, and as a result, are accelerating and expanding their business with AWS.

New Strategic Collaborations

As I mentioned last year, more and more senior leaders of our partners are making multiyear commitments to transform with AWS.

These are big commitments with specific transformation goals. And in return, AWS, we‘re making significant investments to these partners to help them transform faster and at scale.

In 2020, we signed 25 strategic collaboration agreements. And this year, we signed another 27 with partners like Halliburton, Fujitsu, Siemens, Swisscom and Tech Mahindra.

As you can see, we have a very diverse group of partners. We have consulting partners, we have ISV partners and we also have local partners.

These partners already leverage the SCA [strategic collaboration agreement] to deliver great business outcomes for their customers and successfully grow their businesses with AWS. We love the results that we‘re seeing from these partners.

Listening To Partner Feedback

Over the years, we’ve invested significantly into go-to-market programs to reduce that initial migration cost for customers, making it easier for all of you to acquire new customers and accelerate your sales cycle.

There’s one program that has had a disproportionate impact on both customers and partners, and that is the migration acceleration program that we launched in 2017. This program can be used by our partners to drive different types of large migrations with customers.

Since the launch, we have continued to listen very carefully to all of you to make sure that this program is something that can help you scale your business. Based on your feedback, we introduced a change in 2020 to provide cash to partners across all three stages of the migration project.

This was a very important ask from all of you. But it was also a big investment for us to make. But we’ve always felt, ‘We’ve got to do the right things for our partners.’ So we made this investment.

Since the change, partners are helping customers migrate to AWS more and faster than ever before. Partners are telling us that it’s making a huge difference to growing their business.

Graviton Ready Program Launch

Once customers start their migration journeys and expand their use of AWS, cost optimization is critical. That’s why AWS is always looking to build new services to help partners so that the partners can leverage these new services to help customers optimize their costs.

Take, for example, the Graviton2 processor that we launched at re:Invent last year. EC2 instances powered by the Graviton2 processor provide up to 40 percent better price performance. And we have a huge demand from customers to use this right now.

But when customers use Graviton2, they also need software products from partners to help with things like deployment, integration, monitoring and securing their workloads. They want software that is optimized for Graviton and provides feature parity to the x86-based version of that software.

I’m pleased to announce our new AWS Graviton Ready Program. This program validates software from our partners to ensure our customers have a consistent experience using that software on Graviton as they do on other instances. … Partners like Dynatrace, Lacework, CircleCI and Trend Micro, they’re already leveraging Graviton to help their customers.

Based on my personal experience, optimizing costs for your customers is one of the best ways to earn their trust. So if you have a software offering, I highly encourage you to leverage this program to help your customers.

Blu Age Acquisition

Customers want to modernize their applications as they migrate to AWS. And not just the easy applications. They want to modernize all of their applications.

Most of these applications still run in data centers that aren’t able to provide elasticity or the other agile benefits needed by modern applications.

We have lots of customers who are looking for partners to help them with this modernization, and that is why we expanded the migration competency program earlier this year to include mainframe migration partners, both SIs and ISVs, to make it easier for our customers to find and work with partners that have been validated by AWS.

And to further help partners with their projects, we recently acquired Blu Age, which provides an automated refactoring technology that simplifies mainframe migrations and modernization.

I encourage all of you to leverage Blu Age’s technology, as well as their professional experts who can help accelerate the delivery of those products.

Big Potential In Chatbots

Once customers have modernized their technology platform and reduced their technical debt, they’re in a much better position to drive business transformation.

For business transformation, customers are asking AWS and AWS partners for innovative technologies for things like transforming customer experiences or improving operational efficiency or enhancing the overall business agility.

I want to share one interesting example where AWS partners are helping businesses transform customer experiences. Across all industries, we’re seeing more and more customers looking to interact with businesses using digital channels.

In response, companies of all sizes are developing conversational AI interfaces like chatbots, voice assistants and IVR [interactive voice response] solutions to provide a better way for customers to engage them.

The use of conversational AI, by the way, it‘s not limited to just customer service. It goes beyond that to other use cases across industries.

For example, making an airline reservation or transferring money or even triaging medical emergencies.

However, implementing conversational AI solutions, leveraging sophisticated natural language understanding—it‘s complex, and it’s an iterative process.

Fortunately for our customers, we have AWS partners who have that necessary expertise to help.

We’ve been working very closely with several partners to combine their domain expertise with AWS AI services to develop new conversational AI partner offerings.

Change Management A Partner Opportunity

We believe customers who are looking to accelerate their business transformation share three common needs.

They want to buy industry-ready solutions rather than have to build them from scratch. They want partners with deep industry and functional expertise to take those innovative technology solutions to modernize their business processes. And they want hands-on workforce training and change management support to ensure they’re able to get the most out of their technology investments.

While all three needs are super important, I’d like to take some time and talk about change management because I believe this is an area that just hasn’t received enough focus from all of us.

I thought Christina Burns at Slalom explained very well why change management is so important. When you introduce a new technology into an organization, you have to help people adopt new ways of working.

We have so many AWS customers right now who are going through massive digital transformations and they need help from our partners to help with change management.

However, change management isn’t something that all partners have the necessary deep experience and expertise in.

That’s why I think this is a great opportunity for our partners to collaborate and develop a better together offering for our customers.

We have partners like Accenture, Deloitte and Slalom who have experience with change management. Accenture specifically has recently worked very closely with AWS to build out a new offering called Change Acceleration for AWS.

I know that these partners will be really excited to collaborate with all of you so, for me, I would love to see all of us put more focus on this going forward because this is super important for our customers.

AWS Sales Staff, Marketplace A Resource For Partners

I believe all of you can expand your business by putting more focus on business transformation offerings. And AWS will help. We have both the technical and business resources to work with you to architect and build out those offerings.

And once they’re developed, we will leverage the AWS sales and marketing organization to drive adoption. We will also leverage AWS Marketplace to distribute these offerings.

More than one 310,000 active customers are currently using software from AWS Marketplace. It’s becoming an important enabler of digital transformation.

AWS Investing In Training, Certification

We’ll soon be launching the SAP on AWS certification. This can be used by AWS partners to enhance their SAP competency by highlighting the individual certified consultants to your customers.

We’re also rolling out the migration ambassador foundations. This is an important training for partner sellers to help them acquire the necessary knowledge around migrations so that they can help their customers achieve business outcomes.

Lastly, one of the most effective training programs has been the AWS GameDay Program. This is an interactive, hands-on training for builders so that they can go deep into AWS services.

Up until now this was only available to a small number of partners. I’m excited to announce that this is now available to all partners who participate in one of our differentiation programs.

We will continue to invest heavily into upskilling the global workforce, and we’re really proud to work with partners who share that commitment.