cci-blogJoin us in welcoming guest blogger, Chris Becwar, Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances at CCI Global Channel Management.

Having worked in and around tech channels for a while now, it’s been fascinating for me to watch how tech vendors use the enterprise technologies they tout to their customers and partners for running their own businesses.

While the leaders of the world’s top IT channel organizations have been busy over the last five years touting the benefits of SaaS enterprise solutions to their partners and customers, they’ve been hiding a painful secret: their personal experiences trying to leverage cloud enterprise platforms for running, and growing, their own channel organizations has often been very painful.

With a rallying cry of ‘cloud or bust’, major tech vendor CEOs and CTOs have signed up for enterprise-wide CRM, marketing automation and ERP software suites that made bold promises to automate everything sales-, marketing-, and finance-oriented, including the channel. And usually this has been done with little or no review or buy-in from the actual channel organization.

These projects have started out with a lot of fanfare and high expectations, but the honeymoons haven’t lasted long. Once it’s become clear that the ‘channel’ or ‘PRM‘ portions of these offerings are actually designed for SMBs with no more than a few hundred partners, the buyer’s remorse sets in and it’s time to ‘pay the piper’…the ‘piper’ being a major consulting firm, to build something custom with the application that can accommodate the full global complexity of the company’s indirect programs and operations. Initial build-outs tend to string out well beyond a year, with huge amounts of internal stakeholder time, and hourly pay, spent managing the project and all the people involved.

Once these systems are built, the pain really starts to snowball as the cost, time, and lost sales opportunities mount quickly. These projects tend to be:

  • Astronomically expensive to manage, maintain, and repair. (Have you checked the hourly rate of a development consultant lately?)
  • Not configurable in any adequate way as an organization’s channel structure and priorities change from year to year. In fact by the time they are built, they tend to already be out of date for the ever-evolving needs of their users.
  • Inadequate as ‘systems of record’ that in many cases are not even remotely ‘financial-grade’ because of the ability of any admin to manipulate the pages and data.
  • Consistently built by third-party developers that have little to no background, expertise, or interest in channel management best practices or global financial best practices.
  • A place where innovative new ideas to improve internal and partner-facing processes ‘go to die’ because of the massive queue and expense of other maintenance requests for the system.

To be fair, software and services organizations ‘born in the channel’ have had their own challenges historically. Although they’ve tended to be more purpose-built by people who truly understand channel, they’ve often been bespoke, desktop applications that can’t evolve or integrate seamlessly with other, more complementary, systems. And they don’t carry the ‘name brand’ cache that their internal champions might prefer to tout with their boss when trying to sell these initiatives internally.

But the playing field has quickly evolved and cloud solutions purpose-built for large, global channels have been evolving and expanding quickly. The beauty of the cloud is that it tends to level the playing field for companies that deeply understand a certain business niche or industry to develop powerful tools that meet the unique business requirements of their clientele.

These new ‘born in the channel’ systems:

  • Are purpose-built by channel practitioners deeply familiar with, and dedicated to, the unique needs and realities of the channel
  • “Play well” with other internal systems and share data easily
  • Put a heavy focus on scalability, through the global needs of a Fortune 500 player

So as channel teams close a painful first chapter in cloud automation and, one by one, give up on their customized ‘Frankenstein’ systems, a new generation of tools is rising from the ashes. Innovative, truly scalable channel solutions for through-partner marketing automation, PRM portals, deal registration, incentives/MDF management, and joint planning are changing the game.

Now that sounds like a cloud-rallying cry to actually get excited about!

Sound interesting? Watch our latest webinar: Embracing the New Era of End-to-End Channel Automation. You’ll learn more about these ideas and specific ways to implement solutions designed to hold your partners accountable, measure results and capture more channel sales. Click here to watch now.