Emerging Competitors Get Digital Business — Do You?

digital business

Lynn Haber**Editor’s Note: Register now for the Business Success Symposium Preconference, sponsored by Verizon, as part of your Channel Partners Conference & Expo package.**

There’s a new army of channel partners emerging that are highly specialized in ways that most of today’s partners are not, and they’re a threat to any partner firm that doesn’t sit up and pay attention.

Theresa CaragolThe need for differentiation inside your partner business is real, as the channel-partner ecosystem gets more specialized, deep and strategic than at any other time.

The imperative to build the right differentiation inside your partner business is real. That’s what Theresa Caragol, founder and CEO of Theresa Caragol Consulting, will address during her keynote titled “Emerging Competitors Get Digital Business – Do You,” at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo Business Success Symposium in Las Vegas, April 10.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Caragol shares her 20 years of sales and channel business development expertise on the topic of the changing partner landscape. She holds a B.A. from Virginia Tech, an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an Executive Masters in Leadership (EML) from the Business School at Georgetown University.{ad}

Channel Partners: Why is it important to talk about new and emerging partner types?

Theresa Caragol: It’s important because we – meaning current partner types such as agents, telecom service providers, MSPs, solution providers and potentially a cloud provider – have to understand who our current competition is and who is emerging as competitors in the market. And, how we need to manage our own business to make sure that we’re successful in both the short and the long run.

CP: When did the new partner types come onto the scene and who are they?

TC: I’d say these new partner types came on the scene over the past 12 to 18 months with the advent of cloud and SaaS (software as a service) — and we’re seeing their success accelerate.

Partners are likely to bump into them in the course of doing business, especially in the cloud and in the mid-tier if you’re calling on legal, financial services or marketing organizations. If you’re selling IT solutions where the IT organization is not the only influencer, you’re going to see these new channel-firm types.

They have deep expertise in different areas, whether that’s …


… vertical industries, solutions, processes or some combination of that, as well as trusted adviser — so who are you the trusted adviser for and what business decision maker?

So if you’re dealing in cloud, applications or business processes you have to pay attention. Also, vendors are focusing on them as a partner type.

CP: So it sounds like existing partners may not be getting the full 100 percent focus from vendors that they’ve been accustomed to as vendors also look to the new partner types. Why are vendors interested in them?

TC: I think the vendors see these new partner types as trusted advisers in different market segments that they want to reach. Like any good vendor, if you have a way to access a new vertical market, size of business, etc., you figure out a strategy to go after that.{ad}

I think in places, it may be taking away some vendor attention from existing partners. At the conference keynote, I’m going to present a few case studies on some customers and why they chose to work with new partners and what the solutions were — so that existing partners can understand why some customers are making those decisions.

There’s no question that the industry channel is likely to consolidate — with M&As and new partner types. That’s what’s happening, so I do think the partner community is going to see increased competition.

The key is that we as solution providers are doing the right things for our businesses to prepare ourselves for the future.

CP: What can session attendees expect to learn at your keynote?

TC: We’re going to talk about evaluating our own businesses; we’re going to talk about a framework of what success looks like and how to raise our own company’s valuation and what matters in that. Then, we’re also going to talk about recommendations for cloud-readiness, best practices, business planning; the talent and skills we need as an organization from a sales, business and leadership perspective; and then we’re going to close with some key takeaways.

I’m also going to share a valuation checklist, so partner firms need to understand what type of questions they should be asking themselves, and recommendations around business advisers to help with how you structure your advisory team for success.

Navigating complementary partnerships is another area I’m going to touch on.

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