Cognitive search vendor Sinequa revamps partner program around enablement

Personalized training is at the heart of the new Sinequa partner program, which has been significantly revised from its original form, which was more like an alliance program.


Xavier Pornain, Vice President, World Wide Sales & Alliances, Sinequa

Cognitive search and analytics vendor Sinequa has significantly remade its Partner Advantage Program, reflecting the increasing importance of channel sales to the company. While the initial partner program was bare-bones, offering essentially referral or resale fees and little more, the new one has a much greater focus on enablement. It offers partner incentives, engagement tools, and in particular, personalized training and guidance.

“We are a European company, in business since 2007,” said Xavier Pornain, Vice President, World Wide Sales & Alliances at Paris-headquartered Sinequa. “Our background is in natural language processing, and we have a complete platform to do cognitive search and analytics. Our target market is Global 2000 and Fortune 500 companies, and we are the market leader, according to Gartner and Forrester.”

The company has a New York-based office and is growing very fast in the U.S.

“We already are doing 50 per cent of our total revenue in the U.S.,” Pornain said.

While Pornain acknowledged there are many players in the Big Data analytics space, he said Sinequa has certain competitive advantages.

“We have a complete integrated platform, which you need to deal with unstructured data,” he said. “You need to have a packaged solution to be effective. The technology is proven, and in proof-of-concepts, we can deliver faster and closer to what the customer wants. We believe we have the same technical capabilities as IBM Watson – but are more agile.”

Sinequa started out selling direct, but have added more partners to the mix over the years.

“We are a pure software vendor, but we have found that we have done more and more selling with partners,” Pornain said. “Some of that is because of the huge growth in the size of projects, which are getting so big that we often cannot deliver them alone. Because of that, we have moved from a direct model to more of a hybrid approach.”

The original partner program was developed a half dozen years ago.

“In the beginning, the partner program was more of an alliance program, with reselling and referral fees,” Pornain said. “We worked with the large SIs, but also some smaller boutique ones, to deliver projects. This program though was missing what we would consider enablement parts. That’s what the new program provides. This program is personalized training for partners.”

The program has three levels — standard, advanced and premium – with different levels of support, but Pornain said that all provide personalized training for every partner.

“We also have co-marketing, where we create marketing material for their sales forces in order to help win new business. We have moved from the strictly contractual partner program we had before, to one where we invest more in enabling partners to make them more successful.”

Pornain acknowledged that the goal in partner relations is a full hybrid model, but acknowledged that that is still some time away.

“We are in the early stages still of cognitive computing, and partners take time to adapt to these kind of changes in technology,” he said. “Typically for large projects, we engage early on with the partner to build a strategy on how to engage, and then most of the initial work is done by our team. Once the lead is qualified, the partner is re-engaged, and we typically do the prototype together. So we engage at the very beginning of the sales cycle, and when it’s more mature, we re-engage again.”

Sinequa is not looking to the new program to build a huge channel, but they are looking for more beyond the small number of Sis.

“We want to be able to make sure it’s a great success for our partners,” he said. “Right now, we have several of the large SIs as partners, and have worked with boutiques specialized in specific industries. We are looking for about 20 partners per region, and we are seeing good growth in both EMEA and the US. We have 20 partners signed up overall, and many more in the pipeline.”

They do not as yet have any Canadian-based partners.

“We are not directly present in Canada, but of course the large SIs are there,” Pornain said.