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Tech Channel “Fast Forwards” to New Business Models, Programs and Automation

Channel impresario Rod Baptie shares observations in new video

By T.C. Doyle

Changes that were working their way through the information and communications tech channel have accelerated as a result of Covid-19, new business models and powerful automation platforms.

So says Rod Baptie, founder and managing director of Baptie & Co., one of the tech industry’s most influential events and networking businesses. Baptie & Co., which consistently attracts top industry channel executives and influencers to is in-person and on-line gatherings, recently wrapped its company’s largest annual event, Channel Focus. As usual, the event showcased key thought leaders who analyzed and debated key industry trends including marketplaces, program tiering and more.

In this Impartner “Lessons from the Edge” video, Baptie, who is a member of the Impartner Channel Chiefs Advisory Board (CCAB), discusses three trends rippling through the high-tech channel in 2021, including:

  • Building momentum for software services and recurring revenue-based business models
  • Progressive partner programs that rethink some of the basic tenants of partners that have been around for decades
  • Advanced partner management automation technology

Here’s a snapshot of Baptie’s thinking on each. For more, be sure to check out the “Lesson’s from the Edge” video featuring Baptie.

The Rise of Recurring Revenue Business Models

For years, channel advocates and thought leaders including Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect business at Comcast Business, have tried to persuade more tech industry partners including value added resellers (VARs), systems integrators and other influencers to embrace business models built around recurring revenue, much like their agent counterparts who sell telecommunications services. It’s been a tough sell — until recently.

Like other thought leaders, Schlagbaum and Baptie see more partners embracing sales of subscription-based services. In many cases, customers are forcing their hands with select purchases of software sold as-a-service. This is having a significant ripple throughout the channel. In February 2022, for example, Exclusive Networks, a fast-growing tech products distributor based in Europe, reported that subscription sales are growing five times faster than traditional sales.

“The rapidly changing business model of both the vendor community and partner community, at the moment, is the biggest transition [in the technology channel],” says Baptie.

Progressive Partner Programs That Address New Business Realities

As part of the push by Riverbed, Nutanix, Datto and others to make their products more virtualized and thus available to be consumed as a monthly service, vendors are also making significant changes to their partner programs. The changes take into account the different rewards, incentives and behaviors that vendors must create in order to satisfy customers and partners alike.

“A key goal in a recurring revenue model is renewal. And that renewal will only happen if consumption is happening and there is satisfaction at the client level. So you are seeing a shift in terms of what partners are focused on,” says Baptie.

Vendors are doing the same thing. “All this means that things like behavior modeling with partners is changing,” says Baptie. “You’re moving from transaction-based incentives to behavior-based incentives.”

These changes put enormous pressure on vendors to rethink everything from onboarding, training and certification, rewards, market development funds (MDF) and more. The only way vendors can manage this complexity today is with better data, tools and processes — automation, in other words.

Advanced Automation Technology

Given the changes of late — think Covid, cloud technology and line-of-business buying — partners face new challenges and opportunities. With few customers to see in person, they have new interest in remote selling, which is fueling their interest in digital marketing such as TMCA, among other things.

All of these trends have put a premium on partner automation technology.

“If you’re in a substantial organization today and you cannot automate most of the processes and you’re still running around with Excel spreadsheets, you have a problem,” says Baptie. “Automation is the key but you’ve got to partner that with providing a really valuable experience for your partners.

In addition to these trends, this “Lessons from the Edge” video also sees Baptie share his thoughts on new vertical market specialties, channel economics and channel chief careers. If you work in or around channels and/or partner, you’ll definitely want to check it out.

T.C. Doyle is the Channel Growth Evangelist at Impartner, the leader in channel management and Partner Relationship Management (PRM) technology. A journalist, book author and analyst, Doyle has worked in media for three decades. As channel evangelist, Doyle produces podcasts, case studies, e-books and more for Impartner. Doyle can be reached at tc.doyle@impartner.com.