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Automation and customisation vital to support channel ecosystems

One size no longer fits all and those working to help vendors support partners are advising greater automation to free up resources to provide more customised reseller support

The expanding channel, with more players entering the ecosystem, is providing an increasing challenge for those responsible for devising partner programmes.

The involvement of those making IoT sensors, digital transformation consultants and others playing a role in helping deliver a complete solution is increasing.

Dave Taylor, CMO at channel partner specialist Impartner, said that a one size fits all approach was no longer going to work.

"Historically, vendors have only had one type of channel partner. This made managing a channel program much easier, as suppliers could drop a new partner into a segment that gives them heightened ability to do training in 30, 60 or 90 day increments before being dropped back into a gold or platinum tier based on revenue," he said.

"Now as the marketplace changes, vendors need an array of channel partner types to serve today’s technology buyers — many of whom aren’t IT specialists but line-of-business professionals. This means vendors need partners who specialize in selling different solutions whether it be hardware, on-prem or cloud-based software solutions," he added.

Although it might seem obvious what needs to be done the issues for a lot of vendors are resources to react to the changing demands of the channel.

"The problem is that vendors don’t have the resources and organizational bandwidth to do so. Right now, suppliers are only really meeting the needs of about 10 or 20% of their partners. A recent report from analyst firm SiriusDecisions, The Channel Partner Segmentation Matrix, found that suppliers have a tendency to focus on top producers in the partner ecosystem, which is causing them to miss out on the opportunity to nurture these other types of partners — the other 80%," added Taylor.

One of the answers is going to involve partner segmentation and making sure that different channel players get a more customised response.

"There are many ways to segment a vendor’s channel network. Examples could include segmentation by solution specialty, industry, geography, type of partner (VARs, MSPs, resellers, referral partners, distributors). You can also segment based on when the partner joined your network whether it be three months or two years ago," said Taylor.

The advice coming from the likes of Impartner is to use automated tools to free up some of the resources to make sure that different types of partners can get the detailed help they need.

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