The past couple of years have demonstrated how vital technology is to our everyday lives. It has enabled entire industries to navigate a rapidly changing business landscape, with new operating models, customer challenges and the demands of a distributed workforce.
At the same time, the IT vendors and the channel partners that deliver these technologies are facing their own set of challenges. IT leaders are looking to vendors to drive more cohesive value from an ecosystem of technologies in their on-premise and off-premise datacentres.
As a result, the channel is now both complex and rapidly changing. An explosion of new partner types and business models presents a challenge for vendors charged with managing this new ecosystem. In the cloud age, partners are evolving their business models to embrace software as a service (SaaS) and managed services.
Elsewhere, we’ve seen the rise of non-traditional partners that base their business models on consulting, influencing or referrals, fuelled by the rise of online marketplaces and changes in the technology purchasing behaviour of organisations.
Meanwhile, partners have never had more choice as to with whom they should partner. This is driving a focus on the partner experience (PX), which attempts to make the engagement between vendor and partner as frictionless – and profitable – as possible.
All of these changes have significant implications for partners.
Profit throughout the customer journey
With all the changes in partnering, legacy sales methods and incentive models are quickly becoming a thing of the past. With the subscription model, however, the customer journey never really ends – that means vendors, through partners, need to re-earn a customer’s business.
As customers move to consume IT products as a subscription service rather than a one-time purchase, it means there are a lot more moving parts that impact how vendors design their programmes, and they will face pressure (and opportunity) to align partner incentives with that of the customer’s lifetime journey.
At Nutanix, we believe disaggregating the incentive stack will create more sustained value for customers and are exploring how we can incentivise partners throughout the full lifetime of a customer’s engagement with us. As a result, it will better enable partners to deepen their engagement with customers, and benefit partners in a more sustained way as they drive solutions and services development with us and their customers over time.
With knowledge comes power
There is untapped opportunity in giving the right partners secure access to telemetry. This will be a whole new dimension of validating solution adoption and usage, and ultimately will better enable partners to provide proactive and reactive support. If partners have access to these insights, they will be able to identify new opportunities to improve customer experience and success in a highly competitive landscape.
Adam Tarbox, Nutanix
Using customer data to create targeted advertising, customise sales models and support customer lifecycles is going to be the value differentiator for the IT industry. And as more of the industry moves to software and subscriptions, this is going to become one of the most important ways to create unique services to enhance customer experiences and deliver value.
In the next year, we anticipate that there will be greater demand among partners for these insights and to grow these practices alongside vendors. Along the way, the term “sales rep” will likely be phased out as “customer success managers” become the norm.
Attract and retain the next generation
As we look to emerge from the pandemic, channel partners are on the hunt for employees. More than a third (35%) of channel partners currently have openings that they are actively looking to fill in technology roles.
Future-minded channel organisations are actively looking at DevOps as one of the next practices to drive differentiation and growth. Low code/no code development methodologies will transform solution delivery – slashing engagement time and costs, providing a significant competitive edge.
Organisations that build these practices will not only gain new customers but will attract the next wave of digital-native channel professionals entering the workforce embracing these new approaches.
Common ground for customer benefit
The channel of the future will be an ecosystem of partnerships, solutions and business models. The technology landscape will drive innovation but also more complexity.
Adam Tarbox, Nutanix
We have learned as an industry that there is a vast set of needs out there to meet, and we can absolutely find ways to partner well together. As such, we anticipate that the alliance landscape will see even more examples of vendors finding common ground as demand grows for more complete, multi-technology solutions.
Nutanix has already forged strategic relationships with Red Hat and Citrix, each of which have proved to be of great value to our partners with solutions that are certified and supported together. Nutanix continues to support VMware ESXi and Horizon View to enable customer choice. Nutanix also partners with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure because cloud is no longer a destination but a collection of capabilities that customers want to work together seamlessly as a hybrid environment.
Services, services, services
As we’ve discussed, the increase in focus around services will continue – and partners will build or buy to acquire those capabilities. Companies will make a move away from transactional volume sales to services, such as technical services in areas such as hybrid infrastructure, security and cloud.
All of these developments mean there is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach to partnering. The role of the partner has never been more important in the new digital era, and it must be central to delivering value and ensuring their customers’ desired outcomes beyond 2022.
Adam Tarbox is vice-president of EMEA channel sales at Nutanix where he leads all routes to market, spearheading channel activities in all the European countries, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. Prior to this, he was director of global system integrator (GSI) business for EMEA, where he was responsible for developing and executing an overarching regional alliance strategy for Nutanix’s GSI partners.