Any company that has built and/or is delivering a PaaS offering, or is contemplating standing up an Internet of Things or other business network (value and supply chain) platform, it is critical to consider not just the technology dimensions of this effort, but also how it affects, and/or requires a tailored partner program.  The practicalities suggest that platforms change the way historical partnerships are viewed  For tech companies, go to market partnerships are nothing new. For industrial companies they represent an entirely new requirement.  For both, they will require new approaches to the partner lifecycle, from partner segmentation, identification, and engagement, through to enablement, support, and management.
For a start, partner roles change in a platform model, and are no longer as black and white as they used to be, eg Developer/ISV, SI, LOB Consultant, Reseller etc.  Companies are taking on blended functions, including resale, development, LOB consulting, systems consulting, implementation etc.  Most vendor partner programs don’t address the channel’s needs for more flexible modular engagement:
management and enablement model

The stakes are high as it is now forecasted that 80% of partner contribution will come from hybrid partners who embrace new digital platform solutions and from born-in-the-cloud partners who have no or very limited connection to the legacy business that drove traditional business models.  These evolving and new partners do not want to work with inflexible, top-down, prescriptive programs but are increasingly demanding more agile and modular engagement models.
We are helping our vendor clients rethink the five foundations of partner go to market and market coverage, to support the new  partner models and arrive at more flexible and modular approaches for partners who may no longer fit into the conventional boxes of resale or services.  This includes adapting:
  • Demand Generation
  • Influence
  • Platform-based IP Creation
  • Transactions
  • Customer Management

Based on our experience with industrial clients such as Boeing, or technology clients such as Adobe, key considerations in driving this new ecosystem and making recombination possible are:
  • Cluster assessment and definition – Consider using a Persona approach based on “behavior” rather than “features” (see our blog on how to make partner-led programs agile)
  • Evaluate relationships and connections, influence, and lines of control
  • Understand the characteristics of the players, and which determine success/failure, and which can be leveraged to impact and drive change
The real complexity lies in the the business model structure:
  • Who will be in the ecosystem and what will they contribute?
  • What elements of the business do I need to control from an offering and economic perspective?
  • What elements do I let the ecosystem take, and what benefits to I derive and do they get from doing so?
  • And how do I grow and nurture the ecosystem so that the economic benefits accrue?
  • What do I need my colleagues to help me make happen in order to achieve those ends?
Partner leads must not answer these questions in a vacuum.  The effort requires collaboration across IT, the LoB groups that touch the platform, and the partner organization.  And we’re not just talking about a developer program.  The platform ecosystem will include a wide range of players in a company ecosystem, from suppliers, developers, influencers, all the way to customers.
In order to stand up an effective platform based model, the organization needs to consider:
Graphic 2- models, gaps
At Digital Bridge we have tools to help you through this process.  We are currently building assessment tools for many of our clients that present a compelling case about who to engage with and how, and define the required planning/engagement platforms and program structure/content to help drive new behavior – including adoption of the characteristics that make a partner company successful in the new Platform Environment.