The New Role of Tech Channel Partners


January 20, 2019


Courtney Acuff

VP, Solution Lead, Channel Program Design & Data Services

As a Solution Lead in the Ansira Channel business unit, Courtney is focused on designing and developing partner programs for today, and tomorrow, while also leveraging the data and insights from hundreds of partner programs across automotive, technology, retail, insurance, and QSR verticals for client-specific decisioning and aggregate program trends.

With innovation driving the pace of as-a-service (aaS) models, gone are the days when selling in the tech vertical is about effectively positioning and pricing easy-to-understand word processing solutions or printer hardware. As more companies like Cisco, Red Hat, and Microsoft emphasize the migration to recurring software subscription models, the role of channel partners must evolve.

In 2019, channel partners will face the challenge of selling new solutions that, until now, were absent from their existing lineup. To see success and energize the brand-to-local strategy, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must ensure their partners are trained — and on board with the national and global focus for the coming year.

A Consultative Approach
Jay McBain, principal analyst, global channels for Forrester Research, explains that as the channel tech landscape is evolving at a rapid pace, channel partners are vital to the enterprise.

“Channel professionals must have a clear understanding of which technologies are most fundamental to their business and program goals, as well as know how technology can help,” McBain wrote in his report.

For tech giants like Cisco, HP, and IBM, resellers and channel partners have always been an integral part of their brand-to-local success. As these companies have diversified their offerings to include cloud-based storage solutions, hybrid cloud storage solutions, SaaS, and virtual security solutions, their local partners are adapting to stay relevant. Many local partners are becoming more consultative, helping to cement the client’s reliance on, and respect for, the parent brand.

A consultative approach can be immensely successful, but it requires the OEM to change its support structure. It also requires the channel partners to make different investments in people, marketing, certification, and training from what they’ve done in the past.

Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) with market development fund (MDF) programs that are standardized globally and allow for regional flexibility can help the OEM best position its partners for long-term success. Parent brands can (and should) host events to help train and inform partners on the latest offerings.

While enterprises and their resellers need to know their proprietary solutions and partner offerings, they must also understand how the channel technology software solutions available through a TCMA platform, such as Ansira EdgeSM, can help them in their business. Using TCMA technologies to the fullest can help resellers meet and exceed customer expectations.

Future Focus
This is the year for channel partners to lead digital engagements and the use of TCMA technologies. In addition, supporting partners in a manner similar to direct sales organizations is an enterprise-wide evolution, but a managed service provider specializing in marketing technology can assist with setting deadlines, benchmarks, and measurements for success. The right firm can also help the enterprise orchestrate, personalize, and contextualize these vital local customer engagements for best brand-to-local results.

Channel Times reports that Michael Kelly, founder of the Channel Institute, believes an eye on future innovation can make the difference for the enterprise. He explained it this way: “Technology resellers with a forward-looking digital perspective combined with the right data management resources are already far ahead of the pack.”

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