The Secret Weapon: Partner Automation

October 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Kevin Rhone– Director, Client Services

Picking the right time for your company to automate makes me think of the question, “What comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Understanding your partners’ needs and then developing processes and technology to make business easy seems to be a no-brainer. So what is the big roadblock for taking that plunge to automation?

In Amazon Consulting’s Webinar, “Engaging and Empowering Service Providers Through Partner Automation,” I had the opportunity to interview Patrick Simonds, Partner Program Director at Ciena Corporation, to discuss some of the lessons that Ciena learned while implementing a partner automation system. We looked at one of our most recent exclusive channel study, “Service Providers and Cloud Services – Leaders or Laggards” to set the stage for this discussion.

One of the first trends shows how 70% of vendors now consider the large telecom service providers as very strategic in terms of partnering, even though for years these large entities were treated as a direct customer. A second finding highlighted how vendors consider performance measures of their partners. Sell-in revenue is still the overall #1 metric for vendors, however measures such as breadth of customers for the key service lines in which the vendors’ technology is integrated is quickly emerging as a leading indicator of market penetration.

The study also indicated that service providers are already breaking down metrics for the IT vendor relationship at a more tactical level in order to identify their most successful partners:

–          # of industry-specific customers penetrated

–          Development of joint account plans,  and

–          How many demos or proof-of-concepts are completed together.

Interestingly, the study’s findings show that vendors are concentrating on three types of support for help their service provider partners drive new business, and making each of these a priority for their automation initiatives: setting innovative financial incentives, helping identify and close deals, and providing both technical training and active support.

Although not a cure-all for every issue, Mr. Simonds said that for his organization, automation is critical. We agree: Our experience and research shows that effective partner automation solutions create market leverage for vendors and can be a competitive differentiator for you with partners.

“We focused on two to three areas we could knock out of the park rather than tackling 10 things half-fast,” said Mr. Simonds, “and the starting point was a portal. After that, we took a phased approach and implemented projects in this order: training, deal management, MDF, on-boarding and directory. Our decisions for implementation were based primarily on what partners asked for first, and then what we realistically had the resources to do, and do well.”

For Ciena, taking a phased approach to implementing a partner automation system helped them to realize that you can’t wait until the egg turns into a fully grown chicken before you  see a significant return on your automation investment. It is important to start early and add capabilities over time. In the end, automation is the secret weapon that makes it easy for your partners think about you first. Check out my next blog to learn the 6 Key Steps to Partner Automation.

Listen to the webinar

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Entry filed under: Industry Perspective, Partnering Tips. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Whose Job is it Anyway? Partnering Automation Imperatives for a Cloud World 6 Key Steps to Partner Automation

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