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The rules of engagement between partners and their vendors

Shantheri Mallaya | Nov. 1, 2013
Amid the mish mash of the dollar-rupee yo-yo and a host of other political imbroglios, one wonders whether partner programs are keeping pace and staying relevant with the new realities of economics.

It seems like Cisco is paying heed to partners' problems. In fact, it now has a system in place through, wherein leads are blocked and recorded. Also, Cisco has recently opened its commercial accounts and made them more partner-led. About 100 large accounts, which were till now Cisco account manager-led, have been reportedly thrown open to partners. It remains to be seen what this would translate into for solution partners.

Programs and Engagement
Walking the tightrope was never tougher. Channel engagement is not merely about putting a program in place, but something that is simple to understand and execute for both partners and vendors. Also, it is about the constant interaction, exchange of ideas, expectations, commitments, and investments. And also, ensuring customer focus. HP gets both bouquets and brickbats from partners. Shaishav Singh, director of DotCAD—a long-standing HP partner—enjoys exclusive Premier and Enterprise partner status. Singh is of the opinion that HP has too many programs that create confusion and that these programs need to be rationalized. Also, that the rules of engagement which began with a bang when launched in 2008, have lost steam along the way.

As a result of multiple programs, account conflicts become inevitable, and a lot of subjectivity seems to have crept in, in the strategic calls taken by HP. "Simplification of the program has to be addressed by the vendor quite objectively," says Singh.

These views are echoed by Girish Madhavan, MD, Quadsel Systems. Quadsel, who, like DotCAD, has been a staunch HP partner right from the time the vendor was looking at setting up its channel line in India. These companies, have over the years, sustained their profitability and topline through at least 50 percent of their businesses coming in from HP. Madhavan is of the opinion that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep abreast of the certifications that HP mandates, and these keep changing every six months.

With huge investments at stake, Madhavan feels HP has to take note of and make sure that partners are not hard pressed periodically to upgrade specializations. Also, partners feel that account manager targets should match with partner targets so that a partner can be profitable on a sustainable and realistic basis.

Another sore point was dollar recognition. Till now, HP had been giving in the range of 50-80 percent on every dollar earned. Singh and Madhavan are optimistic about some of the important changes that got effected in this regard. That came after HP CEO, Meg Whitman, announced that partners are going to be incentivized for every dollar of business they get HP. This, slated to come into effect from November 1, 2013, will translate into a sweeping change in backends. Quadsel, for one, has diversified into software services as well and believes that it's a matter of time before the announcements take positive shape for partner profitability.


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