Meeting the Challenge of a Changing Channel Marketplace

By Howard M. Cohen  |  Print this article Print
Challenging marketplace

The channel market continues to shift, and you can't afford to sit still. It's time to have meaningful discussions with your technical staff and vendor partners.

Getting Value From Intellectual Property

For many channel specialists, the next step is to create products that they or other channel partners can sell and resell repeatedly to many customers. The primary advantage is that each successful product becomes a revenue center of its own, without any additional corresponding costs.

With growing pressure from cloud providers to identify more workloads to put on their services, many former solution providers are becoming independent software vendors that work to produce products from their own intellectual property. Many of these new ISVs build their own sub-networks of channel partners that are happy to sell the ISVs' products to their own customers.

Choosing the Right Vendor Partners

Many major vendor partner programs have been redesigned over the past decade to encourage channel partners to "declare their specialty." At its introduction in 2009, the Microsoft Partner Network changed the rules for certification testing, stipulating that anyone who tested for a particular Gold Competency could not test for any others.

Since the program required four people per competency, this meant that the channel partner who held 29 competencies and was the number-one partner in the program would have to have 116 technical people. At that time, the partner had only 17 people in the company.

Vendors want to have their products represented and serviced by experts that know their products intimately. So, unless your company can afford the payroll, you have to choose which vendors you want to partner with. To find out, ask yourself these questions:

Which vendors' products offer me the widest opportunity to create services around them, such as design, deployment, migration, integration, customization, training and support?

Which vendors bring me into the most qualified opportunities (not just leads, opportunities)?

Which vendors work most closely to help me market our solutions around their products?

Which vendors are willing to invest in marketing our joint solutions?

In this growing world of specialization, vendors become far more than companies whose products you sell. They become companies whose technologies you represent, service and support. This is a far more meaningful relationship—one that requires far more dedication and focus.

The market is continuing to shift, and you can't afford to sit still. It's time to have meaningful discussions with your technical staff and your vendor partners. Who's going to the dance?




Howard M. Cohen

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.