Oracle features specialized partners in new portal

Lidia Smyers Oracle

Lydia Smyers, vice president of worldwide alliances and channels, Oracle.

Think of it as a different take on the traditional partner locator.

Rather than offering a sales channel for customers looking for a particular partner skillset, Oracle’s new Specialized Partner Premier site will look to educate customers on why they need to engage the company’s top partners. Then, of course, it will give them the opportunity to buy those skills.

It’s kind of the marketing side of the traditionally sales-focused partner locator tool, and as its current specialization-focused partner program turns a year old, it’s the latest tool in the company’s efforts to get partners to commit to specializations.

The new Partner Premier site offers customers a look at profiles and case studies of the company’s specialized partners, detailing the role those partners play and the kind of value-add they offer their customers, said Lydia Smyers, vice president of worldwide alliances and channels at Oracle.

Partners will be able to self-nominate to be featured on the site, and applications are available online, but all content for the site will be written by Oracle’s channel communications team. Smyers said the content will also be regularly featured in the company’s two customer-facing print magazines.

“This is just another step in our renewed commitment to the partner ecosystem,” Smyers said, adding that many of the profiles and case studies were already being produced for the print magazines and other uses and that “it seemed a shame not to pull this all together and create a home for it.”

Ultimately, the site will feed into the OPN Solutions Catalogue, which is its more traditional sales-focused partner locator, offering profiles of the types of solutions the company’s partners offer.

“There’s no greater role we can play than promoting this site to all of our customer base and making sure we’re capturing a broad base of customer attention,” Smyers said.

Since changing over to the Specialized partner program in late 2009, the company says almost 1,000 of its 20,000-plus partners have made the specialization jump – including about 10 specialized partners in Canada representing about half of the company’s nearly 60 specialization areas. Smyers said top specializations include Oracle Database 11G, PeopleSoft, Solaris and middleware. Although the 20:1 ratio of partners to specialized partners is consistent worldwide, Smyers said she expects the number of specialized partners to continue to grow.

“We’re at the point now where the first year of the program for many partners was joining up, learning the program and figuring out how the specializations fit into their business and their focus,” she said. “I can’t imagine when we talk next time, those numbers will be the same.”

Part of the marketing plan for the specialization movement is the company’s regular PartnerCast, virtual events where Smyers and her team take over the OPN homepage and invite a number of sources, both internal and external, to talk about a variety of issues. February’s Webcast – slated for Wednesday the 2nd – will include a briefing on Oracle’s support offerings, channel blogger Joe Panetierri of The VAR Guy, MSP Mentor and Talkin’ Cloud, as well as a specialized partner to talk about a recent big win.

The PartnerCast events are open to all partners current and potential, and are not password-protected.