Autodesk adds Platinum partner level, introduces worldwide channel org

Bill Griffin Autodesk

New Autodesk worldwide channel chief Bill Griffin

Design software maker Autodesk has added a new top tier to its channel program and introduced a new global channel structure, part of a series of changes to its partner go-to-market strategy.

Roland Zelles, vice president of worldwide channel sales, operations and field marketing at Autodesk, announced that the company would add a Platinum tier to its partner program by the end of the year.

Platinum partners will be required to offer consulting services, as part of what Zelles described as a push towards “solutions-centric” selling, and will also have to show industry specialization in one of Autodesk’s key areas (currently consulting, business engineering, process plant, and factory design.)

Those new specializations (and the training that go with them) replace product-centric authorizations that were in place before. In effect, any Autodesk partner can now offer any of the company’s products, but those with a specialization in appropriate areas will earn significantly better margins for their efforts.

As well as training based around the new specializations, reaching Platinum status will require a joint business plan with Autodesk, customer references and top levels of customer satisfaction scores.

“Platinum is focused on value, not volume,” Zelles said. “We want to make it very simple for our customers to find the right partners.

Stephen Fletcher, vice president of the Western Canada region for Autodesk partner Cansel, said the addition of a new top tier to the program is most welcome – in fact, it’s something “we nag them about on a quarterly basis.” Cansel has grown through acquisitions, and such, was actually overqualified for Autodesk’s Gold partner status, so Fletcher is betting there won’t be too much incremental investment required to take it to the next level.

Fletcher also welcomed the inclusion of customer sat levels as a key measure at the Platinum level. “We want to get the highest scores possible there, so if that’s pointing our noses in that direction, that’s great for us,” he said.

Autodesk also announced a significant reorganization of its channel business, promoting former Americas channel chief Bill Griffin to vice president of worldwide channel sales and creating a new worldwide channel sales organization. The company promoted Gary Smith to the new role of senior director of Americas channel sales, and introduced Ray Savonna and Denis Branthonne as vice presidents of EMEA and APAC (respectively) channel sales.

Although the company has long gone through the channel worldwide, only in the Americas did it have a consolidated channel organization, Griffin said. As a result, there were often tactical or even strategic differences from country to country, even in regions where many partners work across a region. By putting partner programs worldwide together under one roof, the company is looking to make things more predictable for its partners.

“We were running a worldwide channel program before, but it was organized by country,” Griffin explained. “Now we’re really formalizing the function and designing our future based on our partners needs and not where they are.”

Partners in the Americas in particular aren’t likely to see much of a change under new regional channel chief Smith, as the company’s Americas channel program is largely the model for the new worldwide program. Griffin said that the moves would make it easier for multi-national partners to work with Autodesk in various regions around the world, but that otherwise Americas partners should expect status quo.