AWS looking for more channel growth

Senior partner leader at AWS shares the vision for widening relationships and working with generative AI to unlock more opportunities

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is not that far into its channel journey, but the cloud giant is determined it will develop its indirect business.

Driving its partner expansion and masterminding the support it can provide is Julia Chen, vice-president of Partner Core at AWS. Her previous time spent at Cisco is also a benefit, with the networking giant’s long-standing commitment to the channel a lesson that can be learnt from.

“AWS started as a direct-only business, so we’re early in our partner journey,” she added. “AWS recognises the importance of partner.”

She lists the reasons why the channel adds value, including their customer relationships, solution delivery and delivering business outcomes.

“There’s many customers that AWS doesn’t have, and our partners do have them, and we recognise that customers are looking for solutions and outcomes,” she said. “We very much rely on our partners to create the solutions and the outcomes that the customers need.

“We’re able to close deals faster with a higher win rate and better seal economics when there are partners involved. All around, we recognise that partners are hugely important to our business,” she said.

The sense that there is still more to be done is shared by Chen and her team, with AWS looking to build the channel business further.

“The deal economics that I just referenced have been phenomenal. We recognise the value that partners are bringing, but we’re definitely not where we want to be yet. There’s a tonne of learning and growing that needs to happen on both sides,” she said.

Some of that work involves distribution with AWS looking to work more closely with disties to ensure it can reach smaller partners via those relationships.

The other area is to continue developing tools and support for the channel. It’s been possible for a while for partners to sell services through the AWS marketplace and the firm has been developing more generative AI (GenAI) features that will smooth the wheels even more going into 2024.

“Part of the work right now is working with the partners to figure out how to use those to deliver business outcomes at the end. Both us and partners are on this growing and learning journey together right now,” said Chen.

The other key aim is to make sure AWS can support a wide variety of channel partners and appeal to those looking to concentrate on cloud, as well as those taking their first steps into selling the technology and supporting that with different levels of support and accreditation.

“Different partners are at different levels of that ladder. We want partners to go wherever they want to go in the ladder, but we want to enable them to climb the ladder if they choose to. Where I’m going with the partner programmes right now is how to incentivise and enable them to be able to take whatever business model they want with us and be successful at it,” said Chen.

At the recent Canalys Channel Forum, one session covered marketplaces with the assertion that the big cloud players such as AWS had understood the need for the channel if they were going to deliver rounded solutions to customers.

Chen also acknowledges the channel will play an increasingly important role getting the vendor in front of fresh customers and making sure it can be part of a solution delivered by an MSP or reseller.

“We’re actually acquiring multiple 100 partners every month and the velocity continues. We definitely are still in expanded mode,” she said. “We found that the customers want to buy solutions and they want to buy services from our partners.”

Looking ahead to next year and beyond is going to be dominated by talk of GenAI, and it is already clear there are opportunities being created for partners as a result.

“There’s so much opportunity here. Most companies are sitting on mountains of data that they don’t know what to do with. GenAI really unleashes the possibility of correlating the data, analysing the data, making it so that you can share it and derive insights out of it and be able to act on them,” she said.

“There’s going to be more and more problems solved at a faster velocity now that we have tools to be able to analyse the data that people have been creating, but just sitting on, because up until this point, they haven’t had the capability to be able to actually analyse and do something useful with it. And so as we scale up our partners and as we scale up our customers, I think this was only going to unleash more and more,” she concluded.

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