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Top 5 Trends that will Reshape Enterprise Channel Partner Programs in 2024

Ganesan Arumugam, Director, Channel Sales, NetApp India.
Ganesan Arumugam, Director, Channel Sales, NetApp India.

The article discusses top five trends that is all set to impact Enterprise Channel Partner Programs in 2024

Ganesan Arumugam, Director – Channel Sales – India & SAARC, NetApp

As a dynamic sales and marketing professional with an impeccable track record, Ganesan has gained exposure in cross cultural experience , handling & leading diverse functions like sales & marketing operations, developing Partner Eco System, formulating sales strategies, designing organisational structures, processes and policies, He has helped Partners in developing and implementing strategic plans aligned with organization’s objectives and grow businesses. He has proven ability in launching and supporting products and services, and penetrating new markets and increase sales profitability.

Channel partnerships are a key growth driver globally for enterprises across sectors. An effective partner program can contribute as much as 60-70% to an organisation’s growth. Traditionally, the partner model was centredaround resale, margins, and upfront revenue collection. However, the service-based paradigm towards which the technology sector has transitioned in recent years has been mirrored by a similar shift in partner channels. Consequently, customers increasingly expect partners to become more than technology providers – bringing to bear the flexibility, responsiveness, and strategic enablement to holistically address their challenges and drive optimal outcomes.

Here are a few key trends that enterprises can leverage to build and maintain a winning channel partner model in 2024 and beyond:

  1. Increased Complexity Due to Cloud Adoption

The channel partner ecosystem has grown more complex, given the rapid cloud adoption in recent years. Partners are increasingly expected to wear many hats – of consulting partners, cloud migration partners, billing partners, and more. Amidst these evolving customer expectations, it is more critical than ever before for channel partners to leverage technological innovations such as AI/ML and the hybrid cloud, to deliver unique end-to-end digital and cloud-focused professional services.

  1. Cloud Shattering the Territory Barrier

Another significant implication of increased cloud adoption is that the territory barrier has been broken for channel partners. This, in turn, has shaped a highly competitive landscape for technology and service providers, wherein channel partners who are unable to add concrete value will lose relevance. In this context, it will become crucial for enterprises to equip partners with the knowledge and tools they will require to drive real, incremental growth and maximise customer lifetime value.

  1. Technical Skills Emerging as a Key Differentiator

Amid escalating competition, technical skills have emerged as a significant differentiator for customers while evaluating solutions partners. The long-term success of a channel partner, therefore, relies on the ability to build and retain a skilled workforce. Enterprises have a key role to play in facilitating this, by making upskilling an essential component of partner programs. This will enable channel partners to develop competencies aligned with market needs – empowering them to significantly expand their services portfolio, become trusted advisors to their customers, and drive sustained revenue growth through long-term service engagements.

  1. Distributors Building Direct Sales Teams

Another key trend that has been observed, and which will be highly relevant in the year ahead, is distributors investing in building their own direct sales teams, to become more customer centric. Distributors are also increasingly evolving their service models, and their marketplaces for customers and channel partners. These developments will certainly have a significant impact on the channel ecosystem.

Looking Ahead

In 2024, and beyond, the traditional partner model will continue to evolve into a more complex model – one that aims to cater to a wide spectrum of customer expectations and maximise lifetime value. Enterprises will increasingly need to engage and develop multiple partner types to be assured of success in this new paradigm, including Distributors, SI (System Integrator) partners, consultants, influencers, services partners and, particularly in the case of cloud-related businesses, migration and billing partners.

Staying abreast of the trends and working closely with partners to evolve effective partner programs will empower enterprises to build a truly robust channel ecosystem that aligns with the interests of all stakeholders.

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