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EMC this week began to transform its channel program in a way that is designed to significantly tighten the relationship between EMC and its partners.

The EMC Business Partner Program (BPP) touches on a range of things, from how partners are awarded rebates for selling EMC products to how EMC and its partners go to market.

Replacing the EMC Velocity channel program, the new EMC BPP program awards rebates at the first dollar of sales, which then gradually increase at a predictable rate as specific revenue thresholds are met. In addition, EMC for the first time is allowing a select group of its partners to resell EMC services.

EMC is also making available support services for cloud service providers and a variety of preconfigured big data and security offerings that EMC partners can resell.

As broad as the changes to the EMC partner program are, Fred Kahout, EMC vice president of channel marketing for EMC, said some of the more subtle changes to the program may wind up being the most profound. EMC is making significant investments in big data analytics that the company’s marketing organization will use to drive higher-quality leads to the channel.

These changes are part of a broader transformation across the channel in which marketing is becoming much more of a science than art, said Kahout.

“Our role at EMC is to drive that transformation,” Kahout said. “The companies that effectively combine math and marketing are going to win.”

As part of that strategy, EMC expects in time to be able to identify new opportunities for solution providers by not only analyzing what customers are buying, but also correlating that information against social media signals and news events to more granularly identify which customers are likely to purchase certain classes of EMC products.

For solution providers and the IT industry, in general, the implications of transforming marketing organizations into a sales engine are broad. Instead of having sales teams supporting a small number of customers, most upgrades may wind up being sold via customer support representatives who regularly engage customers. Sales staffs will then reallocate their time to chase net new business almost exclusively.

Rather than telling customers they need to invest in big data, vendors such as EMC are now gearing up to wield that data on behalf of their channel partners.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.