At the turn of the millennium, there were early murmurs on the potential power of developing partner ecosystems as a shiny silver bullet channel strategy.
The premise was that by creating multi partner selling teams involving solution providers, integrators, consultants and ISVs, one would be able to better serve the very specific vertical needs of enterprise and mid-market.
IBM was the first company to pioneer the concept with Advanced Alchemy, a thought leading global channel sales and marketing execution agency, now part of the Gorilla Corporation Group of Companies. The program was designed to be scalable and scale it did, reaching giddy sales revenue numbers in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Fifteen years later, the world is a different place, and channel strategy has finally caught on to a good thing, and ecosystem partner developing is becoming more mainstream.
To give you a perspective on the current complexity: In the USA alone there are 120000 partners. Within this envelope you can count the traditional VAR, CSP, MSP, DMR, System Builders, System Integrators, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS partners.
To make it worse, they change all the time, adapting their businesses to the fast sweeping changes in the industry, adapting to cloud and to deliver everything as a service with monthly recurring revenues.
Gorilla Corporation and Impartner felt there was a gap in the market for Channel Chiefs to descend gladiatorially, into a think tank arena, to spar with one another and to be stimulated by unorthodox ideas. This led to the creation of the Channel Chiefs University Series, which gathered in Palo Alto on June 24th. Heavy hitting industry leaders used this roundtable as an opportunity to learn and debate some of key insights, presented by Theresa Caragol, former Channel Chief at several Fortune 500 tech companies.
Creativity, innovation and adaptability are necessary skills for today’s Channel Leaders. One can no longer think and do “standard”.
Metamorphosis costs energy, overhauling a business model is eye-wateringly difficult. So, is it really worth it? What’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
Cloud business (SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS) are set to triple growth to achieve market spending of $500B by 2020. So, yes it’s worth the pain. Besides, the alternative is certain extinction driven by millennials stampeding the channel horizon with venture capital funded new ideas, and limitless ambition and energy.
Strategic alliances and channel models are blending.
Now that technology solutions are sold less to CIOs and more to LOB Management, a whole host of new partners suddenly appear as not only viable but necessary.
Suddenly Agencies, Accountants, Venture Capitalists, HR and Training companies are becoming core to the channel strategy of many vendors. Aligning, enabling and empowering your existing channel to this new paradigm is exactly what will define and power your brand’s future.
This requires Ecosystem Partnering to become culturally intrinsic in your business to the point of become encoded in your company’s DNA.
Channel Managers of the present and future will need to be equipped with skills vastly surpassing the status quo, in terms of emotional intelligence, business collaborative and co-selling acumen.
The next 24 months will distinguish the winners from the losers, and we should expect the unexpected.