Introduction: the channel technology landscape
Partner strategy and management are crucial components of achieving mutual success in today's rapidly evolving partner ecosystem. The effectiveness of joint business plans and the ability to execute them can be hindered by the traditional business planning process. In a recent podcast, Gina Batali-Brooks, CEO of Is Inspired, and Frie Pétré, CEO of Qollabi, discussed the importance of selecting the right technology strategy for your business needs, be it an all-in-one solution or a best-of-breed approach.
With 159 software companies driving the next decade of channel software, as predicted by Jay McBain, selecting the right technology stack can be overwhelming.
Gina emphasizes the need to focus on what drives the business forward and provides immediate value, using a pragmatic approach that enables faster innovation and updates. However, the decision to choose between an all-in-one or best-of-breed approach depends on your goals and the functionalities you require.
All-in-One or Best of Breed
The idea of a pragmatic approach focuses on how technology can provide business value as soon as possible, much like the principles used in agile product development. The key is not being blocked internally by philosophical or fundamental discussions and instead focusing on what is driving the business forward and providing immediate value.
As Gina puts it, “Choosing an all-in-one or best-of-breed strategy really depends on what you are trying to accomplish, and ultimately it’s a combination of how you use what you already have, and augment it with functionalities you need.”
To summarize the differences between an all-in-one or best-of-breed approach, you can consult the following comparison providing a high-level overview.
The New Trends in the Channel Tech Space
What are the upcoming trends in the technology space, specifically around the partner ecosystem? Gina believes that three significant movements will shape the future of the channel technology space.
- The need for closer integration across organizations to address customer needs. E.g. reducing frictions in invoicing and the use of predictive analytics in partnership spaces.
- The usage of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to help you decide what to do next with the right partner
- The way we will be handling data will be transformed by Web3, blockchain technology, and containers
The trends in data availability across organizations supported by predictive analytics will help determine mapping out the crucial points in the partner journey as well as defining the next best actions you can take for that partnership.
Mutual success planning is the starting point in your partner relationship.
Is Inspired advocates for business planning, but they recognize the challenges in how business plans are serving technology vendors in today's landscape. Gina has experience dealing with clients who have tried business planning in their organizations. Some of the critical mistakes she observed in various organizations were:
- Making it a requirement for the program (only vendor-driven)
- Seeing it as a checkbox item to be updated before the Quarterly Business Review (QBR)
- Using spreadsheets and pdfs for business planning, limiting visibility for the partner manager, partner, and leadership
If done well, planning can serve as the foundation of the business relationship with your partner ecosystem. It should begin with identifying the business goals and where they intersect with the goals of other parties. It should then be used to drive those goals and measure success. It is essential to note that business plans should not be static documents but should be agile and adapted to every stage of the partner journey and partner maturity.
An interesting insight is that business planning is a contentious subject in many organizations. Considering the arguments above, it should be rebranded as "mutual success planning," the starting point of your partner relationship.
If you are interested in listening to the full podcast and gaining insights from Gina Batali-Brooks, the CEO of Is Inspired, you can find the podcast here.