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Helping Partners Succeed—So That You and Your Customers Do, Too

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Thursday, June 25, 2020

In an increasingly digital world, how do you create business models that help your company succeed while ensuring that your partners reap the benefits as well?

It’s a question faced by many companies today—not just in technology—and it’s one that is top of mind for Carl DCosta, worldwide vice president and general manager of partner success for Blue Yonder (formerly JDA Software), which provides software and solutions focused on supply chains.

After all, “partner success” is right there in his title.

Building a Partner-Based Model

DCosta’s keynote presentation, “Foundation for Partner Success in the Digital World,” on Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the second day of ASAP’s virtual Global Alliance Summit, looked at how Blue Yonder has approached this question, largely by seeking to understand who their partners are, what their capabilities are, how to attract and recruit new partners, and how to make sure that value is created throughout the ecosystem and flows in multiple directions.

A tech-industry veteran with years of experience, first at HP and then at Oracle, DCosta arrived at Blue Yonder in late 2019 and was given a mandate: build out the company’s channel and partner business. This meant “working more with partners and leveraging the ecosystem,” DCosta said, as well as operating from a “more partner-based model.”

In service of this goal, DCosta divided Blue Yonder’s partners into three types: development partners, who extend solutions; selling partners, who give the company more reach; and delivery partners, who deploy and deliver products and augment Blue Yonder’s expertise.

Each of these partner types needed something different to both attract and enable them.

Needs, Leads, and Sandboxes

The development partners—largely independent software vendors, or ISVs—wanted free licenses and access to technology, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreements, and their own “sandboxes” to play in, in the cloud. They benefited from this arrangement by getting high margins with product IP, while Blue Yonder got an end-to-end solution offering.

Selling partners—business or systems integrators (BIs/SIs)—wanted referrals, resell agreements, and co-sell fees and agreements, and thereby they received resale revenue and margin while Blue Yonder got incremental leads, more products, and more users.

Finally, the delivery partners—again, BIs and SIs—wanted enablement and training as accredited technical consultants, as well as branding. Their reward was increased margins for their services business, while Blue Yonder saw their end of the deal as leading to greater customer success.

DCosta noted that unlike in “the old days of reselling,” often companies are more diversified now and may play more than one role—perhaps even all three. Thus it’s important to understand your partners’ capabilities and what they bring to the table—and what you do, too.

Another key point is removing barriers to working together, as much as possible. “We need to be easy to do business with,” DCosta acknowledged. “To be more consumerish, with one click. We want to make it easy technically and commercially to join that journey with us and for us to support [partners]. We’ve got to get better at this.”

Partner Programs Bearing Fruit

So far, DCosta said that the partner programs, processes, and metrics he has worked to implement have been helping in that regard, though he cautioned that it can take a few years for any such effort to truly bear fruit. What’s also important, he said, is to be clear about the nature of the opportunity and to measure the value created thereby—no matter whether the partner is purely transactional, directly pouring revenue into the coffers, or more of an influencer who is bringing in leads.

“What does a win or success mean for each?” he said. “What are you getting out of it, what are we getting out of it? Whatever the win-win is, I encourage you to have a common scorecard.”

Another recommendation DCosta gave was to try to “eliminate channel conflict” and “compensate both the partner and your sales force so they both benefit customers.” He added that sometimes there needs to be more exclusivity in certain geographic regions such as Russia or Latin America, but barring that, he urged compensating and encouraging everyone involved and avoiding what he called the “macho element of human beings: ‘I did the deal and the partner didn’t. I’m better,’ regardless of the compensation. But by and large, if both are mature enough to see the customer as the primary beneficiary that we need to optimize for, then we allow the customer to choose how they procure, and we compensate the partner—especially as the lead—even if the transaction happened through the vendor. Those policies are quite critical to making sure you don’t end up with conflict and you end up with cooperation,” he said.

Not Fade Away: The Future of the Channel

Asked the perennial question about the “death of the channel” and whether the indirect tech sales channel would be wholly replaced by ecosystems, DCosta’s answer was interesting.

“It’s a tough one,” he admitted. “If you mean ecosystems may not resell, and channel by definition equals resell, I do think the dynamics will change. At least in the technology world, ecosystems—or marketplaces if you will—already with a Salesforce or a Microsoft or Oracle seem to be an alternative way to transact from traditional channels or channel players. But everything is a continuum. Some technologies lend themselves to ecosystems better and easier than channels, so I don’t see this as either/or. There certainly is a big shift in the software industry going more toward an ecosystem/marketplace world where the transaction happens more directly.

“But even in that, there’s roles for partners, and especially partners that work across multiple ecosystems—cloud of clouds, as they call it—so there’s plenty of roles for partners and channels to play across multiple ecosystems. It clearly is a trend, but I don’t believe it’s a binary thing where it’ll flip one day and the channels will go away or anything like that. I think there’s a place for both.”

Tags:  Blue Yonder  business or systems integrators (BIs/SIs)  Carl DCosta  channel  cloud  ecosystem  end-to-end solution  OEM  partner programs  Partner-Based Model  partners 

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The Value of Honing in on Partner Specialization and Expertise—the Google Way

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Google has been called a trendsetter; a more apt description might be “epoch-maker.” The company repeatedly has surged ahead of the pack to set long-term standards. When adapting to the evolving multi-industry, multi-partner ecosystem, Google places great value on making specialization and expertise central to strategy, says Nina Harding, channel chief at Google Cloud. Harding discussed that message today in her session “Transforming Partnerships in the Cloud” at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17, at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California. In a fascinating pre-Forum interview, here’s what Harding honed in on:

Your session description describes Google’s link to transformation as pervasive in a world of continuous change. How does this philosophy fit into Google’s present partnering mindset?

We partner differently. We approach partnering much more from the ways companies and partners are transforming. I plan to talk a lot about traditional services and resellersthe way partners build their businesses. That traditional way is in the rear view mirror. We are finding increasingly the need to build businesses around where they have expertise, so it makes it easier to partner to fill in gaps. We ask the question: What do you want the ecosystem to do for you, and how do you want it to extend value for you? We look at channels differently as we meet with partners and look at the marketplace. Those traditional partners don’t exist anymore. They don’t show up as one type or two types anymore.

The shift from vendor to ecosystem partner requires figuring out for a particular company how they can best ride their business. You need to look at it more from a behavioral perspective: How can we make you successful or profitable? Or if you want to just sell, how can we unbridle you from the resell? Become strategic advisors if you don’t want to be bridled into reselling. We talk about transforming and looking at the landscape of the ecosystem and how they want to engage with us. It’s a very different approach. Companies like Google, SAP, and Microsoft used to have a lot of power in who their partners were. Now, with social media, purchasing is through networks. Our job is not to assess the value of a partner. Instead, it’s to differentiate the business. There is a fundamental shift in the way you want to engage and work with our ecosystem. We talk a lot more now about how we help partners differentiate in the marketplace and how we make them successful. Because we created a culture, we ask questions like: How do we find the right partner? How are they specialized? What is their expertise?

As one of the big leaders in this new ecosystem, how is Google adapting and adjusting to the change?

It’s critical. One of the biggest areas of investment in the last six months requires really focusing on industry perspective. For example, some of our great new partners and customers are makers of wearable devices, where they have the Google Cloud platform. This is not the traditional cloudwe take geospatial data, maps, linguistics, etc., and intertwine them. The power of having such tools and resources through Google partnering is to be able to deliver transformative options in, for example, the healthcare space. We also have Chrome. The utilitarian nature of a Chrome book allows hospitals and organizations to have a utility laptop that anyone can access. They can sign into their account regardless of it being their machinebecause everything is in the cloud. It’s not just signing into an epic system; it’s anything and everything they have access to as a user, from the G-suite to GCP, Chrome, maps. There’s a tower of solutions as a partner.

You state that companies need to become business advisors solving customer challenges in an agile, customer-centric, digital environment. Why is that the new normal?

Customers are almost ahead of partners sometimes in digital transformation, as partners are no longer going in to solve a lift-and-shift problem. Whole conversations need to be about imagining what your business could be and tackling what your next version of your business will be. It’s about transforming your businesshow to reach and serve your customer versus going in and saying “This is our tech, and this is how this will fit.” That’s the conversation we’re having about being that trusted advisor.

What are key considerations when building these new partnering programs?

I don’t think the partner program are vendor-driven, they are ecosystem-driven. So when building programs, build to make the partner successful. Build their business. In this world, it’s about innovation, digital transformation, and the need to infuse with tech enablement, but also it about how to think differently and imagine a different world than we have today. It’s a different way to enable partners. It doesn’t mean anything to a customer if you are a silver, bronze, or gold partner. But it means something if I have specialization or expertise to give you an idea of where you need to take your business. It’s about serving your ecosystem rather than measuring your ecosystem. My message is more about how should companies should be thinking differently working with their partners. Look at this from a different perspective and be customer-centric, which is a different philosophy.

Stay tuned for more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more about the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Chrome  cloud  customer-centric  digital Transformation  geospatial data  Google Cloud  innovation  Microsoft  multi-partner ecosystem  Nina Harding  partner programs  partners  SAP  strategic advisors 

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