The forthcoming issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine takes an in-depth look at the changing role of the channel manager in today’s high tech industry—a business landscape that can look very much like the 100-foot North Atlantic waves in the movie “The Perfect Storm.”
“Many seasoned channel managers have remarked that while disruptive technologies come and go, they’ve never seen anything quite like this. This disruption goes to the heart of the business model of many technology companies, and those companies and channel managers who don’t adapt are doomed,” writes Norma Watenpaugh, CSAP and principal of Phoenix Consulting Group, in our feature titled “Disrupting the Channel, or: ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cloud.’”
“To succeed, today’s channel executives must become savvy business managers—transitioning to new revenue models, finding new partners, and working collaboratively to understand and serve entirely new groups of customers outside of the information technology (IT) department,” writes Watenpaugh, citing Gartner data documenting “a tectonic shift in IT purchase decision making.” Twelve years ago, spending on IT outside of the IT department was only 20 percent of total technology spending. But by 2019, Gartner says, almost 90 percent of technology will be purchased by business lines, not the IT organization
“There are more buyer personas,” explains says Kristina Scott, manager of global channel marketing for Brocade, a data and storage networking company, and corporate member of ASAP. “Customers need the options explained in the language they understand.” Watenpaugh explains, “This means making the translation from technical benefits to business impact. These shifts are leading Brocade and other technology vendors to re-evaluate whether they have the right partners in their channel and what they can offer their current partners to gain new skills.”
Channel managers today increasingly must become savvy business managers who understand not just innovative and disruptive technologies, but also adaptive business models. Watenpaugh talks to IDC’s Steve White, program director of the Strategic Alliances Leadership Council at IDC, who says, “There are no rules! And failure doesn’t matter.” Reaction speed does matter, though. “Demand can be gone before you have all the planning done.”
Watenpaugh notes that the traditional start-up partnering model was to associate with big brand names to build credibility with customers. “Today, that may be a disadvantage,” according to White. “It is more important to find a likeminded partner with some synergy in the partnering opportunity and just go. Have some success or, if you fail, fail fast and move on.”
Learn more in the forthcoming Q4 2014 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine, available as a free benefit to all ASAP members.