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Commvault channel chief looking to increase relevance

This is going to be a big year for Commvault’s channel chief, Mercer Rowe, as he looks to ensure that partners get the message about the benefits of working with the vendor

When Mercer Rowe was appointed as Commvault’s channel chief last October, his first message to partners was that he was looking to take a more consistent approach.

His first job as global head of channels and alliances at Commvault was to talk at the vendor’s 2019 GO event about plans to focus on introducing simplicity, predictability and profitability.

Six months into the role, that remains the mission. Rowe is working broadly around those same themes and taking steps to turn those ambitions into positive improvements for partners.

“The central theme of the partner strategy at this point is one word – relevance – and how we are changing the level of relevance in our partners’ minds and our customers’ minds,” he said.

Rowe is working on a three-pillared approach – portfolio, partner ecosystem and profitability.

His challenge around the portfolio is a familiar one to any channel manager as he looks to encourage its existing partner base to sell more of its range as a solution.

“The technology is still regarded by most anybody in the know as the best technology in the space,” he said. “However, it’s become a crowded space. A lot of companies have similar messaging. A lot of companies claim to do the things [Commvault] is doing. For us, shifting from product to portfolio, it’s about relevance. It’s about increasing mindshare, and it’s about being outcome based.”

He added that a lot of conversations with customers were about looking after their assets, and those discussions were about the business outcomes rather than a detailed focus on specific data protection products.

On the ecosystem front, the issue is not so much around striking up relationships, but making sure the channel is aware of the numerous connections the firm has in place already.

“We are going to create a programme that is differentiated on business model and not partner type. We are going to have consistent tiers to make sure all partners are motivated to grow with us”
Mercer Rowe, Commvault

“We have all of these fantastic technology integrations, and I continue to be pleasantly surprised how deep these integrations go, with all of our ecosystem. But the thing I want to change is that we haven’t told anybody about it,” he said, adding that this week he has been sitting down with partners at a roadshow event to talk about how to put these partners together to create simple, multi-partner solutions for customers.

The final ‘P’ on Rowe’s list is perhaps the one that stirs most emotion in partners – the prospects for increased profitability. To make life easier for partners, Rowe is looking to move away from a channel programme that defines partners by type to one based on business models.

Rowe is going to be busy for most of 2020 implementing that plan, but he is clear that the current structure is lacking simplicity.

“Today I have different programmes for traditional channel solution providers and distributors. I have a different programme for service providers, GSIs [global systems integrators] and cloud, and a different programme for alliances,” he said. “Over the next year I am going to fold all of these together and [create] one programme – a programme that is differentiated on business model and not partner type. We are going to have consistent tiers to make sure all partners are motivated to grow with us.”

Commvault is also going through the process of creating new rules of engagement to ensure its field and partner field sales are well aligned and will be incentivised to work together.

There are also going to be chances for resellers to add more services, with the firm looking to offer tools, such as compliance discovery and file system audits, that can be packed up in a utility model and offered to partners.

“This allows me to give them opportunities for profitability [as] those services are at a much higher margin,” he said.

Rowe also made it clear that the priority was to work with existing partners before adding more to the fold, maintaining that there was no ambition “to go broad” and recruit many more resellers.

“We are in this transition phase, and getting this message out is a priority because, as I said, a lot of this is not novel – these are things that we have done already or have been in the process of doing for some time,” he said. “It’s really a matter of communicating the differences and packaging them for [partners] to understand that we are going to market in a different way and we want to have a good expanded relationship with them. We want to help them back to this concept of relevance,” said Rowe.

“This is going to be a big year of pulling this story together and making it real in terms of implementing these things, and also educating evangelising and enabling the partners around these things,” he concluded.

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