As Markets Evolve, So Must IT Partner Programs

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The IT channel is a diverse ecosystem of companies with different skills and competencies serving an even more diverse customer base. Specialization for years has been a top priority for a preponderance of channel partners, but recently we’ve seen partners adopt a more comprehensive model by bringing different competencies – systems integration, managed services, software development, and hardware sales and service – under one roof. That’s why IT partner programs, which support IT solution providers, need to also evolve to mirror market demands.

The evolving IT market

The move is an attempt to adapt to evolving customer needs. The relentless pace of technology adoption has steered customers and providers down new paths shaped by the availability of advanced solutions in areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), the convergence of IT and operational technology (OT), artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and edge computing.

Partners have had to adjust their roles and take on new competencies to serve customers in these areas, hence the trend toward a more comprehensive business model. Adding competencies, whether organically or through acquisition, enables partners to widen their value proposition for customers. It’s no longer enough to just resell solutions.

Increasingly, customer engagement is a long-term affair. Partners stay connected with customers through service contracts to protect, update, and continually optimize their environments. And those environments are getting more complex, combining on-premise assets with multiple clouds and fast-expanding edge networks that support real-time data collection and analysis.

To best serve customers in this evolving IT world, partners need the support of vendors that understand their needs and challenges. With vendor support through IT partner programs, IT solution providers are better able to take a consultative approach, addressing customer goals and pain points to plan and deliver the right solution. Vendors that focus only on selling aren’t likely to serve partners well.

New IT partner program considerations

So, what should providers look for when choosing a partner program? In a competitive, evolving market, IT solution providers need vendors with partner programs that give them a competitive edge. For instance, they need access to service and software options to keep up with evolving customer needs for remote monitoring and visibility into distributed environments.

One size doesn’t fit all

IT solution providers should look for a vendor that goes beyond a one size fits all approach. Instead, they should look for programs designed to help them develop and maintain multiple IT competencies and diverse business models. This way, partners can get the support they need depending on the markets they serve and the offerings they want to provide to their end-users.

Geographic reach

It is beneficial to partner with a vendor who can mirror the same geographies as the solution provider. Look for a vendor who can provide support with a strategic account team to manage accounts with operations in multiple regions. The goal is to provide partners with the support they need to compete and win new business in local markets and verticals.

Market intelligence

Providers are under pressure to constantly learn about new technology and verticals. Choose a vendor that can help provide market and trend data. That way, IT solution providers can better understand the market dynamics and the competitive field to create a roadmap with tailored customer offerings. In addition, it gives them access to data that may help them stay a step or two ahead of their competitors in their offerings.

Tools for business enablement

Lastly, it is vital to find a vendor who can provide the just-in-time resources needed to enable business success. For example, look for a partner that offers 24/7 access to partner content, tools, benefits, and training. They should be able to offer tools for configuring, designing, and quoting solutions quickly and efficiently as well as marketing and sales kits.

An evolved IT partner program

For those shopping for a new partner program, I have good news. Recently, we revamped Schneider Electric’s partner program, and it checks all the above boxes. This decision stemmed from extensive research and understanding what IT solution providers need in this dynamic market. We kept what worked well but made big improvements to better fit the needs of IT solution providers.

The new mySchneider IT Partner Program is designed to be an enabler to the IT solution provider’s growth and success by offering solutions and services that match the market, delivering the assistance IT solution providers need to serve customers and grow the business over various geographies and verticals. As we roll out this new program, we look forward to hearing from you.