IT Channel Partner Programs Changing As Business Models Shift

Cloud computing, the consumerization of IT and other disruptive technology trends are causing a significant shakeout in the programs that link IT vendors and their channel partners, according to a new study released today by CompTIA.

The CompTIA study finds satisfaction levels with these programs are generally favorable: 60 percent of firms are satisfied with their primary vendor partner programs; and just over 25 percent are very satisfied with program resources, benefits and requirements.

Major shifts leading to new looks at channel programs

But major shifts in the IT landscape are prompting a re-examination of channel programs.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of IT firms said that in the next 12 months they will focus on establishing a cloud-based delivery model; 46 percent are moving to a managed services model; and 39 percent are shifting from transaction-based product sales to recurring revenue models.

“With the industry changing and business transformation becoming a must, the channel is increasingly looking for help with how to sell and how to structure their business in new models,” said Carolyn April, director, technology analysis, CompTIA.

Social media tools are gaining ground as a communications link between vendors and their channel partners. More than half have used social media tools for partner recruitment and to share information on sales and incentives.

The highest marks for specific partner program elements came for Web-based technical training, business training in sales, marketing and other aspects of running a services-oriented company.

Eyeing new business models and markets

April noted that while new training options and streamlined communications from vendors will be paramount in helping channel partners make the transition to new business models, these shifts must be balanced against current reality.

“Many vendors are looking at ways to identify practical partner segmentation and engagement strategies to pull off the balancing act of aligning new go-to-market strategies while maintaining short-term revenue productivity,” she explained.

“Channel partners are in the same boat, eyeing new business models and markets, which continuing to nourish legacy revenue streams for survival.”

Data for CompTIA’s Second Annual State of IT Channel Programs study is based on a survey of executives at 400 U.S. IT companies and in-depth interviews with IT channel executives conducted in February and March 2012.

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