Posted at April 3, 2014 by Comments Off

Channel ROI: A Hotter Topic Than Its Ever Been

ROI highlighted in greenChannel program ROI measurement is nothing new; it’s always been something that channel professionals have strived to do. But let’s be honest, it’s never been something that people have been able to do particularly well. Not surprising, given the numerous levels of complexity inherent to the channel. This challenge has led to ROI being seen as an unattainable ‘holy grail.’ But the concept of channel ROI has become a very commonly discussed topic lately. Why so? Here’s what we’re hearing in conversations with clients.

One key factor is the shift away from traditional allowance-based (aka co-op) partner funding based on past revenue performance to more proactive, discretionary spending (MDF) based on future growth opportunity. Understandably, finance departments get queasy about giving large lump sums of money to any external company based on a proposed plan of future action that may or may not pan out. A big competitive advantage goes to the channel that can get the most ‘bang’ for their MDF buck and really measure what’s working so that they can be constantly improving and minimizing the financial risk involved with these payouts. This hinges on truly understanding what is driving revenue (and what is not).

Another key factor is the bar of expectations in this ‘new reality’ of highly-automated and measurable digital marketing… it just isn’t acceptable any longer for CMOs to have large sums of money in their marketing budget that don’t map to some solid indication of what return it is bringing. For years, MDF tended to be justified as a ‘necessary evil’ by many technology companies – a needed pre-requisite for running a channel that somehow escaped the microscope of ROI measurement. Hope of truly connecting the dots on return was seen as a pipe dream. Those days are coming to an end.

Additionally, with the rise of vendor-approved (and often vendor-underwritten) through-partner marketing agencies (TPMAs), it is much more realistic these days to expect to see reliable, objective outcomes data on partner marketing campaigns. So instead of VARs executing campaigns on their own separate systems and submitting results data that is murky and questionable at best, partner lead gen campaigns are more commonly executed on a shared, trusted platform where the results are visible for all to see. That doesn’t mean that the ROI measurement is going to become a perfect 1:1 – automating measurement of a lunch-and-learn roadshow still presents complexities, for example – but it’s a big step forward.

For those interested in exploring trends and best practices related to channel ROI further, the CCI team will be hosting a few upcoming live events. We will be hosting a “Channel ROI Measurement” webinar on April 9 at 10:00AM (PST) that will focus on the rise of modern channel program measurement and its implications for revenue and market-share growth. Click here to register for the webinar.

And then, on April 23-24 the CCI team will be hitting the road for Baptie & Company’s annual Channel Focus Conference. At the conference, our SVP of Sales and Marketing, Steven Kellam, will drill into the ROI topic even further regarding what key ROI metrics we all should be thinking about at each step of the channel program lifecycle.

If any of these dates work for you, please join us… we hope to hear your perspective on this thorny topic!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris BecwarChris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI
As the director of marketing and strategic alliances, Chris Becwar leads CCI’s marketing and operations strategies, expanding the partner ecosystem, and contributing to CCI’s consulting practice, which helps clients design, evaluate, and optimize their channel sales and marketing programs. Becwar’s experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances. A veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, he brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.

Posted at January 10, 2014 by Comments Off

A Look Into the Channel’s Future

Crystal-Ball-2014I was honored to recently be asked by Channel Marketer Report to share some insights on channel sales and marketing trends for 2014 and wanted to also share them with our blog readers. Here are a few key channel trends we’re seeing on the way for 2014:

  1. A major front in the partner engagement wars by top channels for 2014 will be heavy investment in UI and UX for online partner portal, training and incentives management environments. Vendors are learning that they’ve got to make it as easy, fast and rewarding as possible for partners to get in and out of their online portals, or else partners just won’t use them.
  2. The rise of through-partner marketing agencies (TPMAs) like Zift Solutions, Elastic Digital, Averetek, etc., will accelerate. Unfortunately, the fact remains that the majority of resellers and solution providers are brilliant technical and relationship people, but just aren’t great at marketing — or properly representing a vendor brand. Who would you rather see conduct marketing efforts for a partner you just sent $50,000 in MDF to: An agency with a deep understanding of integrated lead generation, social strategy and brand management, or the fresh-out-of-college nephew of the reseller firm’s president?
  3. Vendor-centric partner social communities are another phenomenon picking up a lot of steam in the channel. Many top channel vendors are plunking down considerable investment dollars in them right now. These environments are of course different in nature from social syndication solutions, which compile and deliver sanctioned content in primarily one direction: from the vendor, to and through partners, to prospects and end-users. Rather, communities are about vendors enabling organic, two-way dialogs to pop up between any members of a channel community — be they vendors or partners — that others can see and learn from. Recent studies have shown that these types of communities are getting strong receptions from channel partners/resellers. Vendors and distributors are finding that they can reduce the load on their channel account managers and channel marketing staff by providing environments where partners can help support each other with advice and mentoring. Salesforce.com’s recent product push in this direction has definitely been a major driver here, but other partner relationship management (PRM) vendors like Relayware also are bringing great approaches to this this that are more channel-friendly and plug and play.

To check out the full article, go to http://channelmarketerreport.com/2014/01/channel-thought-leaders-experts-share-predictions-for-2014/

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris BecwarChris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI
As the director of marketing and strategic alliances, Chris Becwar leads CCI’s marketing and operations strategies, expanding the partner ecosystem, and contributing to CCI’s consulting practice, which helps clients design, evaluate, and optimize their channel sales and marketing programs. Becwar’s experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances. A veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, he brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.

Posted at October 31, 2013 by Comments Off

Channel Best Practices Events Worth Seeing

In case you missed the buzz, I’d like to point out some very interesting channel best practices events worth taking a look at…

I’ve mentioned here before that the CCI team are unabashed fans of what PureChannelApps is doing to help leading tech players enable best practicesocial marketing for their VARs with the SocialOnDemand platform. They’ve got an interesting case study webinar coming up featuring Adobe’s Angela Leech. Under the program name of Adobe Social Channel, the company is ‘socially’ enabling its channel partners by providing them with easy-to-find and easy-to-repost social media content. In under a year, channel partners posted Adobe news 6,000 times on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — which resulted in 100,000 clicks.

I’m also happy to say that our webcast earlier this week on partner scorecarding best practices with Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath, turned into a major industry event…attendance hit record levels and everyone came away with a lot of new insight about how to do scorecarding the right way in our quickly evolving tech and telecom landscape. It’s now posted for viewing on CCI’s BrightTalk Channel.

And as you may have heard, the scorecarding event was the first in a two-part series. On January 30, 2014, we’ll reconnect with Diane to explore the other crucial element connected to scorecarding: joint partner business planning. Not to be missed!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris BecwarChris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI
As the director of marketing and strategic alliances, Chris Becwar leads CCI’s marketing and operations strategies, expanding the partner ecosystem, and contributing to CCI’s consulting practice, which helps clients design, evaluate, and optimize their channel sales and marketing programs. Becwar’s experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances. A veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, he brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.

Posted at September 23, 2013 by Comments Off

Creating a Partner-Centric Program from Beginning to End

If you ask almost any executive with global channel management responsibilities if their company is partner-centric, they will say ‘yes.’ In fact, they will often say it is their number one responsibility to make their channel programs partner centric. The question is what does partner-centric mean to them?

business man targetHere at CCI, we believe creating partner-centric channel programs begins with an understanding of how your partners’ customer buys, and then creating programs to support that sale. And, that it ends with the way you reimburse your partner for their participation in your programs. For this blog posting, I am focusing on that last bit – how you reimburse your partners, and what we believe it means to be partner-centric versus program-centric.

Currently, there are over 180 currencies in the world. The value of those currencies in relationship to each other changes every day. For example, today one US dollar is equal to 1.03 Canadian dollars. During the past year that same US dollar has been equal to as little as 0.96 and as much as 1.07 Canadian dollars. What about that same Canadian dollar in relationship to a Euro? Over the past year, one Euro has equaled as little as 1.25 and as much as 1.41 Canadian dollars.

The value of any one currency fluctuates based on economic conditions. However, if you are living in Canada do you really notice the change as part of your everyday life? Probably not, unless you are in partnership with a foreign company, and getting reimbursed for participating in their programs. In that case, that fluctuation can make a big difference in how you feel about the program and the partnership. As a partner, you want to get reimbursed dollar for dollar, whatever currency you spent.

When reimbursing partners you have two choices – do you reimburse based on the current value of your native currency or on theirs? In this case, being partner-centric means reimbursing your partner the exact amount they spent in their local currency. If they spent $1,000 Canadian dollars, reimburse them $1,000 Canadian dollars.

Partner-centric means that the company chooses to absorb any difference in financial value that fluctuating exchange rates generate. A partner-centric model maintains the partner’s local currency as a constant throughout the process while the over-arching base currency will fluctuate with the market—this allows the partner’s currency to remain constant.

Program-centric means that the company chooses to have the program operate under one currency that they define, and all reimbursements are done in the one currency selected. The partner absorbs any fluctuation, which can be positive or negative depending on the economic conditions.

From a best practice point of view, we always recommend that a partner-centric program be implemented for all global programs if possible. Partners will have a more positive experience during the use of the program when they can count on being reimbursed exactly what they spent to participate. Over the years, we’ve seen that this approach pays back far more than the additional cost because it increases partners’ loyalty and participation. This is especially important as companies are becoming ever more dependent on their global sales channel for growth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott LincolnScott Lincoln, Business Development Support Manager at CCI
Scott Lincoln is the liaison between the sales team and client service team for CCI clients, which includes strategic planning and ongoing program development. He works directly with existing clients to enhance the CCI experience and to help them achieve their business objectives year-over-year. Scott joined CCI in 1997, and has worked in a variety of positions – including client service manager and director of client management – before accepting the business development support manager position in early 2013. Scott has created and implemented over 100 trade marketing programs during his tenure at CCI, in addition to helping clients with program reviews, enhancements, and bast practices.

Posted at September 13, 2013 by Comments Off

The Rule of 78s for the Channel

In earlier blogs about the move to selling more subscription-based software and services by vendors and their resellers, I’ve mentioned the concept of ‘the rule of 78s’ — a term that helps demonstrate the intriguing aspect of moving from a business model driven by big chunks of one-time, high-margin revenue to one where the financial rewards are reaped more gradually over time.

Below is an image I grabbed from a presentation by Craig Schlagbaum, VP of indirect channel sales at Comcast Business Class, that has been helpful for me in explaining the ‘rule of 78s’ to people, and thought it might be useful for others.

After a year of selling one $1,000 dollar subscription per month, I’ve pulled in not $12,000 but $78,000.Rule of 78s

 

These numbers are compelling, but require a different approach to selling; a more ‘high-velocity’ model where sellers are forced get out of their cubes and get themselves in front of more prospects every month in order to close more business per month… but the deals tend to be easier to close because they require less up-front financial investment/risk for the buyer.

This model aligns well with folks in the telecom and cable industries, who see an opportunity to use their familiarity with recurring revenue to expand their offerings into those of the traditional IT channel and build ARPU (revenue per customer). It’s still perceived as a bitter pill to many long=time IT resellers, who often still gravitate back to the high-margin but inconsistent revenue cycles they know and love.

But that party is gradually ending, and it’s time for vendors to help show them the way forward.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris BecwarChris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI
As the director of marketing and strategic alliances, Chris Becwar leads CCI’s marketing and operations strategies, expanding the partner ecosystem, and contributing to CCI’s consulting practice, which helps clients design, evaluate, and optimize their channel sales and marketing programs. Becwar’s experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances. A veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, he brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.

Posted at August 8, 2013 by Comments Off

Frienemies – In the Channel and Beyond

Watching The Avengers with my kids for the fourth time last week (yes fourth), the premise of that movie was still intriguing to me; it’s exciting to watch that highly competitive, 3150345-8768287685-the-avindividualist group come together to create such a glorious synergy. For those unaware of Hollywood’s most recent attempt to turn a comic book series into a blockbuster move saga, think large-angry-green guy (Hulk), super-fast red-white-and-blue guy (Captain America), demi-god with a lightning bolt and hammer (Thor). Throw in some Robert Downey Jr. humor (Iron Man) and few lesser-known wing men and you have the ultimate group of “frienemies;” all passionate individuals, all with specific skills, all accustomed to working alone, all incredibly driven.

And to top it all off, all driven to change their behavior and work together because the world could no longer defend itself against outsiders (aliens). Sounds like Silicon Valley.

Earlier in my career, as a partner that morphed from a VAR, to a MSP/VAR, to a MSP/Solution Provider/VAR, my offerings changed and I needed my vendors to work well together because what we were selling was a blended solution focused on the synergy of the solution, not the individual parts. True, the name brand of much of what we provided was a nice security blanket for our clients. However, it was the blending together of what were previously separate parts into a business continuity, or risk mitigation, that was the real win. And that meant blending pieces that previously did not play so well together, either from a pricing, delivery, or integration perspective.

In this brave new world we were forced to work in ways and in partnerships we never would have previously done, in terms of vendors and even other service providers. As we became the business continuity quarterback for our clients, it became imperative that we put our fear and insecurities aside and partnered with others whose best practices complimented our core competencies. As an example, we were good at Sharepoint but knew that there were others that were experts and could provide far better guidance. It was in our client’s best interest for us to sacrifice revenue and bring in a best-of-breed partner, even if there was competitive overlap. In the end we focused on what we did well, put the interest of our clients first, and ultimately prospered in that model.

As the demand on channel partners continues to evolve, it will be imperative that vendors, whether in hardware, software or services, evolve as well. They will need to proactively reach out to each other and work together, even in situations where there may be some competitive overlap. Hey, if the big angry green guy and Iron Man can work together, anything is possible.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven KellamSteven Kellam, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at CCI
As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for CCI’s sales and marketing strategy and vision for today’s goals and objectives as well as positioning the organization for continued, long-term success. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful Managed Services IT business, and  a background in Manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.

Posted at July 10, 2013 by Comments Off

The Social Channel… Are We There Yet?

social-media-handUnless you’ve been under a rock the last couple of years, it’s clear that sales and marketing is going social in a big way. But with all the promise it holds, the space is still evolving, and ROI is still being proven out. A lot of sales and marketing leaders are taking their lumps from the CEO these days for not being able to effectively scale their social programs or demonstrate hard ROI… and the ‘everybody else is doing it’ mentality just doesn’t fly anymore with the CFO.

While the power of social media has been proving itself out for products like Coke and the return of the Twinkie, the hardware, software, and telco companies are still playing catch-up in tapping its potential, especially in the channel. But some truly visionary companies are stepping up and pointing the way forward for social B2B. Companies like Lithium and Bunchball are obvious examples, and in the channel, companies like PureChannelApps are picking up steam with major clients. They’ve worked out a very slick, manageable way to scale a social strategy through a large network of resellers.

This Thursday, July 11, Cristina Salmastlian  from Palo Alto Networks’ channel team will be speaking on BrightTalk about how social channel tools are playing a big part in fueling that company’s amazing growth over the last few years. They’re helping her team leverage their channel partners to amplify their message and generate partner and customer engagement. Should be interesting.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris BecwarChris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI
As the director of marketing and strategic alliances, Chris Becwar leads CCI’s marketing and operations strategies, expanding the partner ecosystem, and contributing to CCI’s consulting practice, which helps clients design, evaluate, and optimize their channel sales and marketing programs. Becwar’s experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances. A veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, he brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.

Posted at June 27, 2013 by Comments Off

Operational Best Practices for a Successful MDF Program

Let’s face it, there are many factors involved in creating and maintaining a successful MDF program. But we have pulled out what we believe are the top operational best practices. At CCI, we see every day the direct impact these practices have on partner engagement, satisfaction, and retention within a program. MDF programs are only as effective as the people and processes that run them.

  1. Create clear and concise guidelines. The rules and requirements of the program must be easily identified by your partners so that they are not intimidated about participating. This is especially relevant for the proof of performance (POP) requirements. A matrix that shows the definition of each activity type and the associated POP requirements is suggested over guidelines written in paragraph form, which tend to be too wordy and muddled for the reader. Enable your partners’ success by giving them the clarity they need upfront.
  2. Enforce these guidelines. Exceptions to the rules should be granted sparingly in a healthy and successful program. If you consistently reward bad behavior (accepting poor POP, disregarding the exception period, etc.) then you set a precedent with your partners of ‘anything goes;’ this will make it exceptionally difficult later on if you try tightening up the reigns. Hold your partners accountable from the beginning so that they know what is expected of them. Too often we have seen exceptions snowball, creating an administrative nightmare that is difficult to stop without causing widespread partner frustration.
  3. Establish effective partner communication and, more importantly, generate the right amount of it. Don’t underestimate the motivation, information, and recognition that can be passed to your MDF participants through simple forms of communication, such as email. Tell your partners what is new and exciting in your program, promote the ease-of-use, and encourage them to get engaged. Assist them along the MDF claim process by confirming when their funds are approved and sending very explicit emails about what is needed in order to process their claim. Communication content needs to be valuable and geographically appropriate. And, of course, be respectful of your partners’ time and inbox; overkill will have them placing your unread messages in the trash before they even finish reading the subject line.
  4. Capture relevant ROI and analyze the data to aid in planning decisions. This will allow you to measure the effectiveness of the activity and help set a benchmark for future investments you are making with MDF. These funds are allocated based on the anticipated results of a planned activity so you should be able to gauge the benefit you and your partner will reap. Partners are seeking ways to maximize their returns, so if you are collecting this data but not actually applying what you have learned you are doing a disservice to your program participants, who may be looking for guidance.
  5. Maximize training to all program and partner managers. Too often we see evidence that most individuals in this position do not have a clear understanding of how the program should work, yet they are responsible for assisting the partners that they manage. A well-run program empowers these managers by equipping them with the business training and knowledge necessary to guide their partners to success. Regular attendance at training sessions and establishing a common enforcement of the guidelines will make these managers an asset to their partners, not an annoyance.
  6. Be willing to change. As the Channel evolves it is imperative that you evolve your program along with it; when you resist change you run the risk of having your program become stagnant. The same activities that promoted sales growth five years ago may no longer be giving you the ROI that they once were. Do regular reviews of which activities are working and which are not – and then don’t be afraid to modify what is eligible based on your analysis.

Your business processes should be evaluated as well. Do you have the right individuals reviewing and approving the use of MDF? These approved activities are intended to be mutually beneficial so your approvers need to have the breadth of knowledge necessary to identify those activities that are in the best interest of the partner and your organization.

Now… is there anything you can do to maximize your program’s potential?

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cassie FuhrCassie Fuhr, Director of Client Services at CCI
As the director of client services, Cassie Fuhr is responsible for  conceptualizing and executing client programs while cultivating new and long-term business relationships.  She manages global on-boarding and training  by developing effective policies and procedures that streamline the programs managed by CCI’s client services team.  Cassie has been with CCI for seven years and during that time has successfully trained a customer service team that has tripled in size.  Cassie works in CCI’s Midwest office and spends her downtime with her husband raising their two sons.

Posted at June 12, 2013 by Comments Off

Video and the Channel: Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Pre-recorded, web-based video communications are all the rage these days in the channel. In fact, I would argue that the channel is one of the hottest and best places for use of video. It’s quickly overtaking MS Office documents and PDFs as the best way to communicate.

So why is video so hot in the channel? Most of the reasons are pretty straightforward…

  1. By mixing voice and visual, video can tell a very rich, memorable story that really makes a message sink in.
  2. Let’s face it: people working in the channel are BUSY, from channel marketing managers and CAMs to VARs and execs. Everyone in the channel is suffering from a little ADD to varying degrees these days and short videos are more likely to be viewed than pages of text.
  3. As opposed to scheduled presentations, videos can be posted online and viewed on-demand, when it works for the viewer.
  4. Video allows us to add a personal touch to our communications that a PDF can’t, and thus help partners feel more of a connection with a vendor’s team.
  5. Video communications tend to scale better than documents, enabling a small channel team to connect with hundreds or thousands of resellers by posting on places like YouTube. And they are more likely to get shared virally among partners and team members, also increasing your reach.

Here are some examples of where we’re seeing heavy and effective use of video in the channel:

 Training – Forcing partners to fly to a central location for product training is a lot to ask in today’s economic climate. Video gives your training team the ability to scale and makes you easier to partner with. Want your partners to take advantage of everything you offer? Summing it up succinctly in a video makes it more likely that partners will “get it.”

 News – Modern video blogging tools enable anyone in your channel organization to quickly and easily announce a new product, feature enhancement, or new incentive program.

 Customer-facing sales tools – Sales videos for your resellers and distributors serve a dual purpose: they deliver a message to end-customers that is complete and undiluted by the varying expertise of your partners, AND in the process of being shared, they help train partners on how to talk about your products.

But even with all the benefits, there are some potential limitations and risks:

  1. Sometimes videos can be expensive and time consuming to produce, depending on your expertise and corporate policies.
  2. When it comes to actual end-customer contact, the best one-way presentation cannot replace a needs-oriented, exploratory conversation with a real person.
  3. The viral nature of web-based videos means that some videos can end up in front of the wrong audience if you’re not careful. So it’s important to make sure you can control who sees them and how they will be shared by viewers.

Here’s a very simplified rundown of video production options – spanning from a Hollywood budget to cranking it out in your cube:

 In-house studios – Many top companies have great in-house facilities for recording video. In a prior career, I was lucky to take advantage of AT&T’s great in-house video team and studios in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

 Video production firms – there are thousands of them around the country… just do a Google search. But be sure to do your homework and talk to a few firms to get the best price and quality.

 Do-it-yourself options – This is a much more viable option today with the amazing advances in video editing tools over the last five years. Brainshark offers a great cloud platform that lets literally anyone on your team create a nicely produced video themselves and share it with your channel. The Camtasia desktop solution just keeps getting better every year, and video blogging tools like Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials and Apple iLife are powerful, easy, and dirt cheap.

Happy recording!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris BecwarChris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI
As the director of marketing and strategic alliances, Chris Becwar leads CCI’s marketing and operations strategies, expanding the partner ecosystem, and contributing to CCI’s consulting practice, which helps clients design, evaluate, and optimize their channel sales and marketing programs. Becwar’s experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances. A veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, he brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.

Category : Partner Marketing
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Posted at May 24, 2013 by Comments Off

Channel Program Metrics and Actionable Insights (Emphasis on “Actionable”)

In the complex world of the channel, data is power. So it’s not surprising that BI and analytics tools that help channel professionals access and understand their operational metrics are popular. But unfortunately there is often a disconnect between those that have the data and those who can use the data.

Too often data resides with IT because there isn’t anywhere else to put it. But at a fundamental level – think amygdala/brain-core type level – analytics for real insight aren’t about technology or tools, or really even about the data.

Consider what I like to call the three primary ‘swim lanes’ of the technology profession today:

Swim Lane One: Boxes and wires and networks and software and making all that stuff work together
Swim Lane Two: Databases and ERP/CRM/alphabet soup systems that leverage data and create data silos

Swim Lane Three: so-called ‘Big Data’ and squishy data and the burgeoning field of analysis of both squishy and hard data

Of course these ‘swim lanes’ are connected to one another, but are distinct disciplines and each essential to enterprise success. The disconnect happens when the folks in Lanes One and Two are disconnected from the outcomes that Lane Three actively pursues.

Lane Three ought to be about taking action from insight to transform the pipeline or order entry. It’s not about figuring out how stuff works and enjoying that process (discovery and mastery of a puzzle). It’s about making people and process changes that will generate business results.

Hence, I predict that in the coming years BI and analytics will become an area of expertise for those rare folks who:  a) are somewhat technical, b) understand data well enough to generate trustworthy and meaningful insights for the business, and c) want to then actively participate in and pursue the changes that these insights dictate.

I think this is why true change is hard within channel organizations. The infrastructure and constituencies (finance, IT, executive management) are deeply invested/entrenched in the existing structures resident in swim lanes one and two, making it very, very hard to drive the recommendations resident in the data.

We all need to re-examine our partner sets, incentive investments, success formulas (aka ROI calculations), margins, OPEX, you name it – and yet start with the end in mind, in order to build backwards to the data points and infrastructure to support those outcomes. Until then, we’re just treading water.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meg Bingley, Regional Business Manager at CCI
After getting her start in media with a B2B marketing agency, Meg developed her expertise in marketing by creating, selling, and executing integrated marketing programs for Microsoft, HP, Seibel, Business Objects, Juniper Networks, Trend Micro, Symantec, and their respective marketing agencies for UBM (formerly CMP Media). Her experience with marketing communications for a worldwide manufacturer provides her with the global perspective needed in our channel world. Meg has been with CCI and our clients in the channel for three years, and has successfully managed the launch of several new and existing client sites to support various marketing and sales incentive programs. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, son, and small menagerie of cats and dogs.