The partner experience is changing in the technology industry as a vital component, particularly when forming new relationships with vendors to create an even playing field, according to new research.
With this, a transition in the vendor-partner relationship has been noted as it moves away from alliances dominated by the former, the technology industry trade association CompTIA's Partner Experience Trends Through the Lens of the Partner Journey research brief found.
As a result, the research claimed that establishing an ease of relationship with vendors was vital to the partner experience – ranked higher than making a profit.
This is due, in part, to the adoption of cloud and as-a-service offerings, as the specific technologies have been obfuscated and amalgamated into services offered by partners, and therefore need to ensure that their services stand out.
Carolyn April, senior director for industry analysis at CompTIA, said customers in recent years have been focusing on services rather than the brand name of products, which has urged providers to build up their reputation as trusted business advisors.
In doing so, the providers gain more leverage with vendors “in a manner that’s much more balanced than it’s ever been”, she added.
Meanwhile, the landscape 20 years ago was central to the domination of key businesses like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Microsoft. Back then, partners and resellers attached their branding to specific products, with their speciality being a key selling point posted on business cards and websites.
Today, the focus on the ease of working with vendors was found to be vital – even above making profits. Past the need for an ease in vendor relationships, collaboration, open and honest communications and trust were also key factors that were considered to be key.
CompTIA also found that the majority of channel firms officially work with an average of five to eight vendors on a regular basis, but can balloon to upwards of 15 to 20. Additionally, the research laid out a partner journey framework, providing a scaffold for how some partners are signing up new vendors.
The process, according to CompTIA, starts with a consideration phase where partners do their due diligence of vendors to determine whether a partnership would be the right fit — including financial and cultural.
Next is the conversion phase, starting up a formal relationship and going through onboarding, where partners define the actual relationship they’re looking for.
The last step is the commitment phase, where the relationship between partner and vendor is established and needs to be reinforced for the long-term through opportunities like quarterly review meetings, figuring out new service lines or solutions and refining profit margins.
The desire to establishing ease in vendor relationships comes off the back of previous CompTIA research with its IT Industry Outlook 2020 report back in November, which found technology and the business of selling it has grown increasingly complex.
That complexity is leading in turn to longer sales cycles and increased demand for skills.
"It’s a far cry from straight-up hardware device sales," the November report said. "As a result of this complexity, integration work and security considerations have ratcheted up, making the channel’s job more and more challenging."