If there's anything that's not debatable, it's the fact that 2013 has not been an easy year for vendors or channel partners. Amid the mish mash of the dollar-rupee yo-yo and a host of other political imbroglios, one wonders whether partner programs—the bulwark of the terms of channel engagement—are keeping pace and staying relevant with the new realities of economics. Because if they aren't, then partner programs don't really serve a purpose. Here's a look at some partner programs and why channel partners love them or hate them.
Backends, Rebates and Rewards
Cisco's partner program, for example, has scored well with its system of backends. For one, the program is transparent to partners as they can check it online. It is also well co-ordinated to allow amounts to be transferred without much ado. "The transparency of the Cisco partner program helps us base our business planning on the backend model since you know exactly what is expected of you—as targets and investments—and what you can recover from every deal," says Rajiv Kumar, CEO, Proactive Data Systems, a Delhi-based Cisco Silver Partner.
Proactive, which has been associated with Cisco since 2002, is confident of the kind of business it can cultivate through Cisco's backend (which is in the range of 3-5 percent). Cisco contributes to about 65 percent of Proactive's overall topline and though the wallet share has not really increased over the last year—and the fact that its solutions work with other brands—Kumar is likely to remain a loyal Cisco partner.
That's because, Cisco, as an organization, focuses on partner development and this has ensured that each partner is well qualified and trained. As a result, customers have a greater level of confidence when dealing with Cisco partners. Extensive trainings and certifications have laid a very good foundation to showcase the right technology in the most complex situations. "Focused programs like CUCM (Cisco Unified Communications Manager), BYOD, datacenter, and cloud computing have created awareness about next generation product lines and are also helping customers consolidate current infrastructure with the technology of tomorrow," says Tejas Mehta, director of Kolkata's Parth TechnoComm Solutions. The company is a Cisco Sales Expert (CSE) certified partner and one of the upcoming names in the eastern market.
However, Mehta feels that, when it comes to network storage, Cisco needs to do some more work from a strategy perspective. "I feel that deeper penetration in B and C-Class cities could reap higher benefits," he says.
Vasudevan Subramaniam, MD of Bangalore-based New Wave Computing, finds EMC's backends and rebates structure to be working quite well for him. With a neat 8-10 percent in his kitty, he believes the vendor's partner program is among the best, with rebates starting from $ zero of business and absolute backend protection. All that, with absolutely no interference from the vendor salesforce. Though in a relatively new partnership with the vendor, New Wave Computing has the confidence to aim for a double digit rebate. Also, EMC's latest promo for partners, wherein the first three partners to clock eight EMC boxes, are entitled to a car, is creating positive vibes among partners.
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