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Hitachi Vantara's Kim King: New Partner Portal Will Unify Resources

'We're really getting aggressive about how we communicate with them,' Hitachi Vantara channel executive Kimberly King says of the company's new online partner portal in an interview with CRN that also covers IoT adoption in the channel and other program changes

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So the tiers were eliminated last year?

We still sort of keep them internally, but they don't really mean anything. Tiers don't apply to all the business models, so tiers really only apply to a reseller, distributor. If you look at a "create" partner who's doing co-development with us for a GSI or a managed service provider partner, because their business is so different, you can't tier them. And so when it can't apply across all of the partners, there was no sense in us keeping them. People internally still say, "oh well, they used to be this or they used to be that." It just doesn't really work with their business model.

With the new value-based approach for the partner program, how do you differentiate between partners who are actually providing value versus scoring a certain amount of deals?

We actually have actively rolled out, and we use the IPED folks with your team [a consulting arm of The Channel Company, CRN's publisher] with our own internal team, to actively look at all of our partner community, and we taught them this business planning process. And so we sit down with our partners and do active joint business planning, which allows us to understand those partners that are highly engaged and want to grow the business versus the partners who [are considered lifestyle partners]. And so [it's] not that we don't pay attention to [the latter kind of partners]. We give them whatever they need. But if they're not going to actively participate, then we'll drive the value to those that drive a business plan and say we're going to do all these things with you.

So that's how we've been really monitoring it within the program. And so we actively measure them, we look at the business plan: How are they doing against those go-to-market [plans]? How are they doing against their accreditations? What activities are they doing? How many leads have we passed to them and they close? So we're really trying to keep a dashboard on the health of our partner community, so we can see how many are growing and what the process is. It's been pretty good this last year. Hopefully next year will be better. The more reports I get, the more data.

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