IT vendors and their channel partners engage in a multifaceted business relationship that requires constant tinkering, give and take on both sides, and clear communications. When the partner programs that sit at the core of these relationships work well, both vendors and channel companies typically have a good shot at hitting revenue and profitability goals. When programs don’t work well -- often as the result of poor communications between parties – both sides can suffer.
As business models begin to morph, chiefly around the transition to cloud and recurring revenue operations, many channel companies are evaluating their options and seeking education and training to guide them to be competitive in the channel of the future. In this climate, the ways in which vendors incent and engage their partners will grow even more critical. The development of partner programs that feature enablement tools, resources and requirements that address trends in cloud, specialization, emerging technologies and new revenue models will greatly influence the ultimate success of the channel and may guide solution providers’ loyalty toward specific IT vendors that meet their needs best.
To begin tracking some of these issues, CompTIA released an inaugural study into trends across vendor channel partner programs in 2011, surveying more than 400 IT solution providers, VARs, managed services providers and other channel players about program participation, member satisfaction levels, and overall effectiveness from the perspective of the channel. The research found that one of the primary factors influencing a channel company’s decision to join a partner program hinged on the ease of doing business with a vendor. This is not surprising; difficulty communicating with vendor partners regarding everything from how to redeem rebates to accessing pre- or post-sales technical support on the fly is a perennial solution provider complaint.
Communications is going to be especially important as the transition to cloud takes hold. Among the focal points of CompTIA's 2nd Annual Channel Partner Program Trends study is a deeper dive on the various facets of vendor-partner communication. The 2012 iteration of the study aims to gauge areas of effective and non-effective tools and methods, including how the use of social media is or is not impacting the way that channel companies exchange information with the vendors they work with. CompTIA members can read the full report here