(Pictured above: The 2112 Group’s Larry Walsh, Xerox’s Amy Belcher, Trend Micro’s Frank Rauch, Hitachi’s Kimberly King and 360insights’ Steve Kellan all offered their insights on the importance of customer experience.)
As customers find a widening pool of modern technology solution options with new implementation, usage and cost models, vendors are changing how they leverage their channels and the way they measure their success their partners bring, both individually and collectively.
The ongoing transformation of the channel is nothing new, nor is the upheaval surrounding it. Looking at its current state and the coming years, a group of channel chiefs representing a diverse set of vendor types last week reflected on current business and technology shifts and shared their views on critical strategies for success. Channel executives from Akamai, Barracuda, Bitdefender, Check Point Software Technologies, Commscope, Hitachi, Ingram Micro, Toshiba and Xerox were among those who gathered last week at a speakeasy in New York City’s Chelsea district.
“Ultimately, it’s about scale and reach, that’s why you have the channel,” said Amy Belcher, vice president of global marketing at Xerox, one of three channel chiefs who spoke on a panel at the Channel Pulse East gathering, organized by 360insights, a provider of channel incentive management software. The question of how to scale in today’s environment, underscored the theme of the one-hour discussion. “We have multiple partner types at Xerox, but at the end of the day, regardless of their business model, it’s scale and reach. How can we have more feet on the street? How can we scale better for more customers?”
The panel discussion, presented to invited attendees including Channel Partners, followed a private roundtable of about 10 channel chiefs, moderated by both Steven Kellam, senior vice president of global alliances at 360insights and Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group. Extending scale and reach may be an obvious strategy, but the vendors last week explained how they have made significant changes in the expectations of their partner communities, amid the transition to cloud technology and customers transforming their businesses.
“Increasingly, the point of sale isn’t the relevant issue, it is the customer experience,” Walsh said. “So how is that changing the way that you’re all thinking about your strategies, your value propositions and the things you need from your partners?”
Belcher responded: “I think that customer satisfaction survey feedback is critical.”
Hitachi Vantara channel chief Kimberly King added that customer satisfaction has become a key metric. “What we are measuring other than revenue that is valuable is customer sat, it’s implementation, it’s the ability for our partners to move across platforms or across products as we acquire other companies or other solutions are built,” King said.
Frank Rauch, who became worldwide head of channels at Check Point Software Technolgies in February after six years leading VMware’s Americas partner organization, said Check Point has joined the growing number of vendors who are measuring and rewarding partners who provide positive customer experiences. It starts at the time a sale is booked and continues by proactively ensuring that the client is getting ongoing value from a product or service, he explained. “You reward and recognize partners, not only for…