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In February 2017, Dell EMC unveiled its “historic” – Dell EMC’s word, not mine – unified partner programme. At the time, the vendor claimed it had established an “extraordinary new programme that addresses the needs of partners today and into the future”.
Kevin Rhone, director of channel acceleration at Dell EMC enterprise strategy group, argued it went “above and beyond what we’ve seen previously in the industry in terms of partner support and recognition. No doubt this will be highly lucrative to partners and Dell EMC, and will enable further growth throughout the industry”.
In addition to outlining plans to consolidate its list of distribution partners, Dell also announced plans to widen its line of business (LOB) incumbency for storage to cover the infrastructure solutions group (ISG) portfolio, including server, networking, storage, backup, converged/hyper-converged and solutions on qualifying accounts.
LOB was designed to protect the established storage relationships partners had with customers based on historical business performance, reduce direct conflict “and ensure alignment between the Dell EMC sales team and the incumbent partners”.
Dell EMC claimed extending it to ISG would “protect the entire datacentre solution and enable cross-selling of the full ISG portfolio. In addition, partners are provided the opportunity to earn incumbency on new customers or new lines of business on existing customers across the ISG portfolio”.
At the time, I noted that it sounded quite enlightened in terms of trying to reduce the potential for conflict with the direct sales team, but the caveat was it could lock out rival partners even if they had an attractive proposition for customers.
How could Dell EMC enforce incumbency beyond a single LOB? For example, if a LOB incumbent tried to make inroads into other parts of the ISG portfolio, but there were already other channel partners selling other ISG products into the customer, how would Dell EMC decide which partner was best qualified for the ISG incumbency?
At the time, the best response Dell EMC could provide was that “operationalising” the ISG incumbency programme was “actively being worked [on] with details to follow”. Not long after, Dell added a similar programme for its client solutions, and furnished further details on how they would work and the eligibility criteria in May 2017.
Commenting on the incumbency scheme in June 2017, Pilar Schenk, Dell EMC’s vice-president of global channel sales planning and operations, described it as “a game changer” that would allow partners to “cross-sell across the entire datacentre solution”. Her colleague, Regina Connaughton, director of global deal registration, added that registering a deal would protect future deals “within this newly launched incumbency programme across the full Dell EMC portfolio”.
Here we are just over 14 months later and Dell EMC has announced a raft of channel initiatives and programmes at its Global Partner Summit 2018 in Las Vegas. One of those programmes is the Dell Technologies Advantage framework which, in the vendor’s words, “will make it easier for channel partners to work across the Dell Technologies family of businesses with engagement, tools and incentives”.
According to Dell EMC president of global channel, OEM and IoT, Joyce Mullen, this will make it more profitable for a partner to sell products from Dell EMC’s different companies together than separately.
This could encourage partners to widen their interest in the Dell EMC portfolio and give them a broader reach into their customer base. To my eyes, this seems like a logical extension of the incumbency programme to the entire Dell EMC product range. As such, it appears to be a ringing endorsement of the success of the incumbency scheme.
Anyway, the latest announcements included a raft of measures and enhancements that are designed to demonstrate Dell EMC’s commitment to its channel partners and their future growth. This includes the Dell EMC Ready Stack programme, which simplifies how partners can bundle, sell and build converged infrastructure stack solutions based on Dell EMC technology; the introduction of four new solutions competencies; an improved points-based rewards scheme, known as MyRewards; an IT transformation campaign; a proof of concept programme; and a demo scheme.
According to Mullen, “the products and programmes announced this week at Dell Technologies World 2018 will enable our partners to broaden their capabilities and to grow even faster”. It’s a sign of how far Dell EMC has come in its ambitions to become a channel-friendly company that such an objective no longer needs to be described as “historic”.