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PartnerPath Research: Cloud Services Trigger Channel Partner Transformations

Many IT solution providers are shifting from traditional resale to cloud-consumption models, according to a new study conducted by partner relationship management (PRM) specialist PartnerPath.

Twenty percent of solution providers said they have 50 percent or more of their sales coming from cloud solutions, according to the PartnerPath study. In addition, 88 percent of solution providers noted they are likely or very likely to increase their investment in the cloud over the next year.

"With the shift to cloud-consumption models, we are seeing solution provider partners shift their businesses away from traditional resale to models that provide for more services such as consultant, agent or managed service provider," PartnerPath wrote in its report. "In these roles, the channel partner is recommending policies, processes and technologies to address the customer's needs, opportunities and challenges."

A Closer Look at the PartnerPath Study Results

Key findings from the PartnerPath study included:

  • 40 percent of solution providers classified themselves as IT consultants, 40 percent described themselves as agents, 33 percent indicated they offer managed services and 30 percent labeled themselves as value-added resellers (VARs).
  • Almost 25 percent of solution providers stated more than half their sales for 2016 came from activities they weren't involved in two years ago.
  • The average solution provider has five primary vendors, i.e. vendors that drive significant volume and growth, and 10 to 20 secondary vendor lines.

Also, many channel partners are reexamining the profitability of vendors to determine where to invest time and resources, PartnerPath indicated.

"As solution provider profitability gets squeezed from lower margins on hardware, cloud-delivered infrastructure and software and through higher administrative costs, partners are getting more particular about their vendors," PartnerPath wrote in its report.

6 Pillars of Partner Experience

PartnerPath outlined six pillars that solution providers can use to deliver a partner experience that drives engagement:

  1. People: People are the most important element in the overall experience with a partner, PartnerPath stated. As such, providing support teams to assist customers and ensuring field teams are compensated properly is essential for solution providers.
  2. Partner Enablement: Enablement involves the transfer of knowledge and many points of connection, according to PartnerPath. On-boarding, services and pre- and post-sales training enables solution providers to administer partner services effectively.
  3. Infrastructure: Solution providers can offer single sign-on (SSO), performance dashboards and automation and communications recommendations to help customers develop a successful infrastructure.
  4. Channel Model: A channel model should focus on several areas, including partner segmentation and profile (partner types), transactional relationships (resell, refer, bundle, OEM), partner sales/influence potential and the engagement model (direct, through distributor, aggregator or master agent).
  5. Program Policies: Developing the right services and support programs can make or break the partner experience.
  6. Performance Metrics: Solution providers need metrics to gauge improvement and discover ways to optimize the time and resources at their disposal.

Solution providers can make the partner experience work in their favor, PartnerPath noted. By doing so, they can manage the customer experience and partner experience to improve partner satisfaction, reduce partner churn and increase revenue and sales.

Dan Kobialka

Dan Kobialka is senior contributing editor, MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E. He covers IT security, IT service provider business strategies and partner programs. Dan holds a M.A. in Print and Multimedia Journalism from Emerson College and a B.A. in English from Bridgewater State University. In his free time, Dan enjoys jogging, traveling, playing sports, touring breweries and watching football.