article

Fashion Forward

Posted: 11/2003

Fashion Forward
PRM Systems Outfit Providers to Attract Partners
By Tara Seals

As trends go, partner relationship management
is
more like a little black dress than retro 1970s flares. In other words, it has
staying power.

PRM, software platforms that enable interactive content and
information distribution between suppliers and their channel partners, are not
just nice to have; vendors increasingly speak of a driving business need for
such systems, which streamline operations and cut costs. In some cases, channel
partners have begun to choose providers on the basis of their PRM interfaces,
making the technology more than a cost-cutter; it has become a valuable
differentiator in a crowded market.

Premiere Conferencing, for example, just chose ChannelWave
Software Inc.s hosted Mid-Market Edition as its PRM solution for managing
reseller, agent and affinity partners. We have been looking to grow the
indirect side, and the system helps us go after the market, says Bruce
Widener, a representative for Premiere. We are looking at this from the
ability to attract agents and build a foundation from the channel.

Premiere will use the product for partner profiles, recruiting
and program management, account planning, reporting, channel communications and
marketing campaigns. The companys new partner portal will be individualized
for each partner and will provide a centralized resource where channel managers,
agents and resellers can access information and collaborate on marketing and
sales opportunities. It includes Information Center, a library for sales,
marketing and technical content, such as proposals, pricing information,
contracts and collateral. Plans call for integrating the ChannelWave portal with
Premieres existing back-office systems, to give partners Webbased access to
information on accounts and billing and automate the sales order and commissions
processes.

FALL LINE

Recognizing a rising tide, platform developers have
hit the catwalk with a line of new PRM options and functionality.

PeopleSoft Inc. will release 360 View for Partners in
the first quarter of 2004, its first all-PRM solution. Functionality includes
recruit and register options, leads management, quote development, order
management, case management, the ability to distribute content on products and
performance tracking with the Partner Scorecard function. What the partner sees can be customized depending on the kind
of access a carrier wants to give the partner. Future releases will incorporate
training and e-learning.

Without a doubt there is great pressure to reduce the cost
of sales, to reduce OPEX, from all standpoints, says Daniel Kenyon,
PeopleSofts vice president of communications industry strategy. If the cost of acquiring a customer outweighs the revenue
they generate in the first six to 12 months, its a losing business
proposition. The key here is that it helps you manage your partnerships at a
lower cost, so you can continue to operate a viable channel.

Click Commerce Inc. subsidiary Allegis Corp. has released the
Allegis 7.0 eBusiness Suite, with about 40 components geared to indirect channel
sales, including partner recruitment and profiling, lead distribution, market
segmentation, training and certification, channel forecasting, point-of-sale
analysis and marketing funds management. The new release also includes new tools
to reduce the sales cycle and improve the accuracy of the channel forecasting
process, improvements to existing workflow and tracking tools and support for
seven new languages. The 7.0 release proves that Click Commerce is delivering
on our mission to provide our customers with the technology and the information
they need to make every channel interaction and every channel investment more
timely and more profitable, says Nancy Koenig, vice president of product operations at
Click Commerce.


Image: Siebel’s analytical screen allows users to slice performance data

Logicware, formerly Inatel, develops Web-based software
automation tools for small and midmarket, multitiered telecom companies such as
resellers, master agents and service providers. This fall, Logicware unveiled
Telecom Relationship Management (TRM), a platform initiative for complete
supplychain management and integrating all participants and processes through
three components: AgencyLogic, ProviderLogic and CommissionsLogic.

In a telecom company, paying sales partners commissions
accurately or tracking suppliers service outages for SLA purposes is as
important as presales customer issues, says Andrew Taplin, Logicwares
president and cofounder. TRM helps telecom companies with all three key
relationships customers, partners and suppliers. Without connecting and
managing all three methodologies in a single solution, no software can be truly
effective.

RPM Software, which offers a commission management product,
also is focusing on the bigger supply-chain picture with its PRM initiatives.
There are contractual relationships throughout the value chain system
needs to be flexible, and from a master agent standpoint, they want an
end-to-end solution, says Dana Dwyer, president at RPM Software. Its
all about the processes. At the best companies in the world the processes are
properly managed, supported and interconnected.

Also acknowledging the importance of the supply chain, CNET
Channel has partnered with platform vendor Hubspan Inc. to integrate CNETs
existing ChannelOnline PRM solution with various customer
procurement systems, including Oracle Corp., SAP AG, Ariba Inc. and Commerce One
Inc. Customers can purchase CNET products from a value-added
reseller through their own systems, and the information is seamlessly and
automatically entered into the VARs ChannelOnline-powered storefront
regardless of application and standards differences between the trading
partners. Craig Elston, Hubspans vice president of sales, says the
partnership provides VARs access to an outsourced, turnkey solution for sales
cycle automation and trading partner integration that increases revenue and
reduces cost.

Some carriers, vendors and master agents are bringing out
their own solutions. Futur Telecom America Inc. is testing a new software, says
Futur marketing executive Marie Lotode, which would help agents keep track of
their number of customers, their accrued revenue, previous revenue, up-todate
revenue, number of previous customers, total client portfolio and other relevant
information. This software would be provided to them free of cost and would
be highly user friendly, says Lotode. Agents would be able to analyze
information easily through the use of a report with graphics and detailed
information.

NEW DESIGNS

PRM will be sporting new usability features,
particularly in the areas of analytics and remote access applications.

Analytics, or use of available business intelligence along
with channel partner sales data to evaluate the success of a sales initiative,
is a hot development area. PeopleSofts new product, for example, will embed
closed-loop analysis, so that vendors can examine sales data, and then readjust
quotas and compensation for partners based on performance. Score-carding
capabilities allow you to identify key performance indicators, explains
Kenyon. If Ive given out 2,200 leads to a particular partner for
construction industry for wireless handsets, I want to know the close ratio, but
I also want to know from a regional perspective and the cost of our sales
against that agent, and we already have that list pre-defined.

Allegis new Enhanced Channel Sales component combines
partner sales data with a rules-based process so companies can automatically
steer partners into training, promotions and programs if the partners
performance warrants it. The component also integrates data provided from firms
like Computer Market Research Ltd., so companies can review consolidated sales
data, automatically identify strong or weak performing partners during a
specific time period, and trigger workflow processes as appropriate.

Business intelligence and insight thanks to business
analytics, not only to channel managers but out to the partners themselves, is
very important, says Vinay Iyer, senior manager of marketing for Siebel
Systems Inc.s PRM. How much business was done with this carrier, with this
product and at what time of year and to what customer segment? You can analyze
that through the portal, partners can see what the pipeline looks like. That was
a major initiative for this latest product release.

SAP decided in October to showcase the PRM capabilities in its
supplychain management platform, mySAP, including a focus on analytics. How
do I offer a value-add versus the other carriers, so resellers and dealers want
to do business with me? Analytics is powerful information that could become a
strategic differentiator, says Rich Caballero, product line manager for
Siebels communications group.

Remote functionality is another trend to watch. Master agent
Brad Miehl, president and CEO of Microcorp Inc., is working on portable
applications for his proprietary PRM system, such as the ability to have
customers sign contracts on a Tablet PC-like device, and to attach .wav sound
files for LOAs. This electronic information gathered by partners in the field
can be uploaded automatically to the main system.

Siebel also is working on such functionality. Partners can
run a version of partner portal on their laptops and synchronize that with the
central PRM application when theyre back in the office, says Iyer. Adds
Caballero, All the Siebel functionality is enabled on various devices,
laptops, PDAs, cell phones, with varying levels of functionality based on what
you want to do with that form factor.

Links
Allegis Corp. www.allegis.com
ChannelWave Software Inc. www.channelwave.com
Click Commerce Inc. www.clickcommerce.com
Computer Market Research Ltd.
Hubspan Inc. www.hubspan.com
Logicware www.Logicware.com
Microcorp Inc. www.microcorp.com
PeopleSoft Inc. www.peoplesoft.com
Premiere Conferencing www.premconf.com
RPM Software www.rpmsoftware.com
SAP AG www.sap.com
Siebel Systems Inc. www.siebel.com
T-Mobile USA www.tmobile.com

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The ID is: 69903