Hawkeye Channel Practice last week launched a beta version of its branded PartnerConduit Network (PCN), an online multi-vendor platform that encourages partners to find each other, work together and be rewarded for doing so. Initially, the beta launch of PCN is only being offered to channel partners in the US and Canada. However, Shari Marion-Hoff, CEO and chief channel strategist at Hawkeye Channel Practice, says PCN will go global in 2010. Currently, the beta offering of PCN is free to any partner from now through to October, provided that the partner signs up before the end of this month, Marion-Hoff said. A major launch of PCN will be conducted shortly after the beta's complete in October, she added. "We found through our research and through discussions with partners that (partners) are collaborating today, but they're doing so informally," says Marion-Hoff. "We, as the third party, are enabling partners from other vendors to go across boundaries to work together to better meet the needs of their customers. This is something that may have been a bit more difficult for partners to do on their own." PCN is designed for partners and vendors of all sizes, Marion-Hoff explains. The cost of participating in PCN is dependent upon the type of tier the partner chooses. PCN offers a free level, however this gives users limited access into the network. To gain access to the Premier level will cost users $99 per month, with an annual subscription commitment. The free beta offering which is now available allows partners to engage in the Premier level, Marion-Hoff said. When a partner first joins PCN, he or she is asked to fill out a profile about themselves and information about their respective company. The reason for this is to make partner selection easier for the partners who are searching for a specific type of partner. "Based on the criteria they're looking for, partners can register an opportunity across multiple vendors to select which partners they'd like to work with and conduct business together with online from a collaboration standpoint," Marion-Hoff said. "Once business is completed, partners go back into the system to provide proof of performance so they can be rewarded through incentives, promotions or marketing funds that are available from the multiple vendors who are part of PCN." Marion-Hoff says these incentives are paid out to partners as a pay-for-performance reward, better known as Collaboration Currency. These earned rewards can be used to pay for subscription fees, other PCN services, or can also be redeemed for cash. These rewards are meant to be an enhancement to things vendors may already have in place with their own branded programmes, Marion-Hoff said. "Collaboration Currency is designed to enhance instead of replace these vendor programs," she added. In some ways it seems PCN is similar to Partnerpedia, an online partner portal community, which is managed by Vancouver-based Constructive, however, Marion-Hoff says PCN does have its differentiating features. "Partnerpedia has a portion of what we offer," says Marion-Hoff. "And there are other different mechanisms out there to find partners. But we've taken it to the next level to not only find a partner, but partners are bringing opportunities into the system, so when partners find partners, there's an opportunity to also be rewarded for it. It's a complete, end to end solution that encourages partners to continue to expand their services offering through collaboration with other partners." Right now, Marion-Hoff says she can not disclose how many partners are currently enrolled with PCN because partners are "being added as we speak," she explained. As a short term goal though, she said she'd like to see partner participation rates with PCN reach the "thousands" range before the end of this year.
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