As I look out at the industry from my role as head of channel sales, I’m more convinced than ever that the trends we saw in 2013 will have a profound effect on business partner programs long into the future.
- Customers Want Solutions (Not Products) to Address Business (Not IT) Challenges: Purchasing decisions are expanding from the CIO and central IT to include other business leaders, department heads and even individual employees (especially when it comes to mobile). These folks could care less about the hardware or software; they’re agnostic about everything but results! Line of business owners in particular want it faster and they want it on Opex, not Capex, dollars so they’re extremely interested in X-as-a-Service (XaaS) offerings. This means business partners must come to every sale thinking, “What’s going to solve the customer’s challenge: hardware, software, XaaS solutions, or a combination?” Vendors need to support this approach not just with training (see #3), but with bundled offerings based on key customer use cases, reference architectures, and systems and processes that make it easy for partners to architect and promote these solutions.
- Partners Want Choice and Flexibility: With the rise in hybrid consumption models (in which customers use a combination of IT solutions), partners need a vendor program that allows them to succeed by adapting rapidly in a changing marketplace. Success in this landscape demands a tight and balanced connection between vendors and their business partners; it must be a true partnership. It also means business partners need access to the fullest possible range of solutions, so they can pick and choose from different offerings and vendors to meet customers’ needs. EMC very much had this in mind when we developed our federation of businesses model.
- Rapid and Continuous Upskilling Is Required to Reach the Third Platform: Many of our business partners were “born in the Third Platform”; they understand that success in it requires being experts in business transformation, acting as key strategic partners to customers and helping them navigate the mindboggling complexity of the IT world. For partners who wish to bridge between the Second and Third Platforms, the ability to rapidly understand their customers’ businesses and grow that knowledge continuously is critical. It means having a complete grasp of technology trends and how they support core business drivers. In short, it means a serious commitment to ongoing training and development, and that, in turn, means that vendors must support their business partners with the kind of training offerings that will elevate them to that next stage: programs that are cutting edge, flexible, easily accessible, and affordable. Just wait until you hear what we’ve got teed up for the 2015 EMC Business Partner Program!
These core truths underlie our business partner program strategy. We kept rolling with our existing program for 2014 (with some tinkering to “fine tune” the engine). In the meantime, we embraced the above trends, threw out the manual and started from scratch (drawing on experience and sheer brainpower) to design the business partner program for the future. We’ll be revealing the details at our Global Partner Summit in May. I believe it will help us remain a leader in the industry, but who else will survive the cut and join us to lead in both the Second and Third Platforms?