While Cisco partners are poised to register for the vendor’s Global Partner Summit 2016 taking place February 29 to March 3 in San Diego, Wendy Bahr, who took over as Cisco’s channel chief back in July, recently shook things up a bit by announcing that future Partner Summits will be scheduled in the fall.
Bahr, senior vice president of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization, made the change to better align the company’s internal sales organization with the partner channel, according to a recently published blog post. What Cisco partners need to know is that the new plan kicks off in November 2016 with a Global Partner Summit in San Francisco.
“Many of the conversations I’ve had with our partners over the past few months have been about the challenges around the breadth of Cisco’s portfolio, our sometimes complex processes, and the transformation of our business to a more software-centric, ‘as-a-service model,'” she said.
“It’s clear that we need greater simplicity across our entire portfolio and better alignment between our partners and our field sales organization,” she stated in the blog post.
In order to bring together the company’s internal and external sales channel around strategy and priorities, the vendor will schedule future Global Partner Summits “on the heels” of the annual Cisco Global Sales Event (GSX). Cisco GSX 2015 was held in August in Las Vegas and drew about 20,000 attendees.
Citrix was one of the first big vendors to bring together its internal sales teams and channel partners to focus on joint success. The Citrix Summit 2014 kicked off the New Year and the company’s new strategy of bringing together internal sales with channel partners at a single event. Prior to the change, the partner conference took place four or more months after the internal sales team learned about the company’s strategic plans for the year.
Now in its third year, the strategy continues: Citrix Summit 2016 is around the corner, being held January 11 to 13 in Las Vegas.
Last week, BitTitan launched the Azure Starter Kit, a set of tools and educational materials for service providers looking to build Azure cloud practices. The starter kit is part of BitTitan’s MSPComplete platform, which the vendor launched earlier this year. The goal of MSPComplete, according to Rocco Seyboth, vice president and general manager of BitTitan, is to help partners evolve their businesses into managed service provider (MSP) companies.
“The premise of MSPComplete is that most of the Microsoft partners are not in fact managed service providers. They call themselves MSPs and they let you think that they are, but the vast majority of them have figured out how to make money on migration but haven’t figured out how to create managed services to maintain relationships with customers, to get recurring revenue and to have value after the migration,” Seyboth said.
MSPComplete provides a range of tools to help sell cloud, onboard customers and offer managed services after cloud migrations.
To improve sales and marketing (commonly a weakness for MSPs) BitTitan shares detailed leads with partners, he said. In addition to basic information about a prospect’s vertical, size and location, leads will have information about the prospect’s environment and the cloud services currently used. The leads are run through Azure Machine Learning to predict the likelihood of the prospect will buy a Microsoft cloud service. “When the partner gets leads, they can filter by leads that are highly likely to adopt a cloud service like Office 365” and then create targeted campaigns, he said.
BitTitan partners can also then use the vendor’s sales automation software and Smart Script technology for guidance during conversations with prospects.
Other sales tools include a statement-of-work generator and integration with PIE (Microsoft’s Partner Investment Engine) to automatically display relevant incentives, funds and investment programs that are available.
MSPComplete also offers HealthCheck, a scanning tool for assessing a customer’s environment before performing migrations. The HealthCheck tool can also perform scans on an ongoing basis to create reports and identify up-sell/cross-sell opportunities.
MSPAlliance has a long history of running networking and workshop events for managed service providers (MSPs) in the U.S. and abroad. Next week, the Chico, Calif.-based organization for MSPs and cloud providers will be launching “Town Hall Managed Services Seminars and Workshops,” a new event series that aims to explore issues in American regional markets. The first of these events will be in Cincinnati on Sept. 16.
Town halls will focus on the unique opportunities and challenges in a particular regional market, said MSPAlliance CEO Charles Weaver. Local-level discussion topics can include state tax laws and job market conditions that MSPs grapple with. He said he expects the Cincinnati event to draw MSPs from northern Kentucky, Indiana and parts of southern Ohio. Continued »
Partnerships between cloud vendors and channel partners, ideally, aim to satisfy both parties: national vendors stand to gain marketing muscle, customization services and a local contact for customers, while partners can potentially seize new avenues for boosting cloud sales.
In a recent example of such a channel alliance, Google last week said it is making a reselling option available for partners of its Google Cloud Platform. The platform, a set of cloud-based services, lets partners build offerings ranging from websites to big data deployments.
Technology adept and sales inept is probably a somewhat harsh analysis of the typical channel partner.
But managed service providers, value-added resellers and systems integrators do tend to be brimming with IT know-how and a bit lacking when it comes to soft skills such as sales, marketing and customer service. Channel consultancies, trade associations, product vendors and at least one “compassionate geek” offer assistance for partners looking to improve those aspects of a channel business. Continued »
In a recent conversation with SearchITChannel, Michael Maddox, president of ASK, discussed issues that managed service providers (MSPs) can face in regards to client agreements. One area he addressed was client profitability, which he said some MSPs lack a clear picture of.
“The No. 1 mistake I see MSPs making is not understanding or having enough tools or metrics to truly understand their revenue and costs from a managed services client,” Maddox said. These MSPs will only evaluate their monthly, quarterly or yearly revenue numbers, with some companies going a step further and looking at their direct costs, such as what they owe Continuum or Kaseya, he said.
Channel partners are in demand by business customers as they formulate and implement their digital business and cloud strategies. That’s because partners offer expertise above and beyond what many businesses have in house and also because these organizations need comprehensive advice and trusted advisors to help them along their IT journey.
Just three months since long-time Microsoft channel executive Jenni Flinders left her job, the Redmond, Wash. vendor this month appointed Stephen Boyle, vice president for Microsoft U.S. Partner Strategy & Programs – or U.S. Channel Chief.
Unlike Flinders who had a dozen years tenure with Microsoft – the majority of that time with the vendor’s partner organization — Boyle is a relative newcomer to the company, having joined in March 2014 as vice president of enterprise partners. He was previously employed at Oracle (since June 1997) in various sales and channel positions. Prior to that he worked at Sun Microsystems and Data General.
Last month when I spoke to Darren Bibby, program vice president, channels and alliances research at IDC, about partner collaboration as the path to new and broader channel business opportunities, he said that he considers partner collaboration as the eighth transformation area that IT solution providers must deal with to transform their business. Why the eight and, what are the other seven?
In a presentation that Bibby put together this year, Business Transformations in the Third Platform, he highlighted seven vital areas partners must tackle to transform their business: technology, time horizon, customer, sales motion, marketing, activities and competition – partner collaboration, which wasn’t on that list at the time he put together his report, would make it eight.
As covered in the article – “New Types of Partners Spark Channel Alliance opportunities” – SearchITChannel delved into what partner collaboration looks like, why partner companies need to make it a business imperative and how some channel partners make it work.
Partnering is rising to the top at Microsoft, especially as unique intellectual property, differentiation and specialization increasingly set apart channel partner firms. At the same time, customers want complete solutions, so increasing partner-to-partner connections is critical, according to Gavriella Schuster, general manager for worldwide partner programs at the company.
At last week’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2015 in Orlando, Schuster said that helping partners find each other and find partners with complementary skills is important to the company: “So what I’m looking at is, how do I help partners do that?”