Does IoT Demand a Brand-New Partner Program Strategy?

Exosite's Jim Carracio

Jim Carracio

Jim Caraccio, Director of Channel Sales, Exosite

For the past two decades, I’ve been responsible for setting up and managing partner programs at various companies. While technology has evolved dramatically in the past twenty years, the recipe for successful partnerships has remained the same. That remains true at my current company, Exosite, an IoT software platform provider.

Here are four basic best practices to successfully develop and manage a partner program, with insights for IoT and both sides of the equation.

Understand current and future market needs: Too often companies and resellers set out to build their partner ecosystems without fully understanding what the market needs and how their partners are going to address those needs. Then, when those partnerships don’t lead to success, they tend to throw out one of these excuses:

  • “It worked once.” When organizations have a successful engagement with a company on one project, they often think it means there is market demand that merits a full-blown partnership.
  • “We need to keep up with the Joneses.” When an organization’s competitors are partnered with a specific company, they may feel compelled to do the same.
  • “Hey, I caught the big one.” Organizations often think they can work with all the big players in a market and customers will come running based solely on the size of their partners.

Although these are useful data points that should be used in your overall decision-making process, your partnering strategy shouldn’t be based on any one these alone; instead, use research. Get data. For example, if you are focused on a specific vertical, leverage the research that vertical associations publish. In the IoT space, if your focus is in the smart-building and smart-home space, join the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and similar groups. They have teams of industry experts providing real-time market updates that will help provide a number of additional data points.

I also recommend that you talk to both existing and potential customers and really listen to their needs and business pain points. The key takeaway here is to make sure you explore the resources available to help you understand the market. Then build your partner strategy based on data, not what worked before.

Increase value to the end customer: Companies are in business today because they provide products and services that fill a need customer’s need. That’s as true of resellers as suppliers. A key goal of any partnership is to demonstrate that the combination of your partnerships provides a higher value proposition to end customers than you offer as a standalone company. Think of it as 1+1=3. The value proposition can take shape in a number of ways, so don’t limit how you promote your partnerships.

For example, at Exosite, we have several different categories of partners. One of them is our edge partners that provide products and solutions on the device side of an IoT solution. Their products include sensors, low-power microcontrollers and …

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