Tech Data is looking to help solution providers take their businesses in new directions in search of growth with the launch of its Practice Builder methodology.
Under the Practice Builder program, now available in Canada and the U.S., the distributor will work with select resellers to build new practices around hyper-growth opportunities, supporting them through developing a strategy, training and preparing their technical and sales resources, and delivering new solutions to customers. Sergio Farache, senior vice president of strategy and specialist business at Tech Data, said the program is about providing an easier path for partners to transform their business to the new technologies and models that customers are demanding.
“The Practice Builder program provides a simplified and different approach, a common framework across all our business units to help partner first understand the market, then build out what they need to succeed, formulate and accomplish a business and and marketing activities, and build out the business with co-selling resources,” Farache said.
The program covers developing practices in Tech Data’s chosen next-generation focuses, including cloud, security, Internet of Things, analytics, and mobility, all areas that may require solution providers to build out both new technical acumen, and new business models.
Farache stressed that the program will not be available to “everyone who puts up their hand” due to the level of investment and effort required on the distributor’s part to do help a partner build a practice.
“We need a C-level commitment, a minimum number of sales and technical resources, a specific liaison in terms of project management, and some level of commitment in terms of co-investment with marketing activities,” Farache said. “We need those things in place to make sure that the partner involved gets return on their investment, and we do too.”
That said, it’s not going to be a small club either. Farache said the company is currently working with a handful of partners as pilot cases, and from there, plans to pretty quickly ramp up to a number of partners “in the hundreds” depending on level of partner interest.
Farache described a process taking about two months to define the opportunity, build up the skills, and get things rolling, although the actual hands-on working together will comprise about five days over those two months. Then there’s typically a four-month engagement after the fact to make sure the new practice flourishes before the Practice Builder team moves on to its next opportunity.
The program starts with an assessment of the partner’s current abilities and gaps in them, and identifies how to fill those gaps. Then the distributor and partner build out a business plan together, defining the solutions that make sense, setting up goals and key performance indicators, and doing an analysis of the investments required on both sides as well as expected returns.
Once that’s agreed upon, the distributor will work with the partner to fill those gaps — developing the sales and technical capabilities required, while at the same time, coming up with the marketing demand-generation strategies that will support the new practice’s launch.
From there, it’s on to “tactical execution,” as Farache puts it, often with Tech Data resources working with the solution provider’s own people in early days to provide an opportunity for the partner to shadow the distributor as they build experience.
The intention is for Practice Builder to be vendor-neutral, and to frequently involve practices that involve multi-vendor solutions. But it’s entirely possible as well to build a new practice around a given example. For example, Farache said, a partner may identify an opportunity to build out a software-defined data centre practice, and may find that VMware is the appropriate partner to bring that solution to life.
Farache described Practice Builder as an adjunct to the SolutionsPath methodology for building partner acumen in a given vertical or technology space, a program that dates back nearly a decade to its introduction by what was then Avnet Technology Solutions.
The intention, Farache, is to create a practice that’s beneficial to everyone involved. Solution providers get faster and easier access to hot and growing marketplaces, and the distributor gets closer to key solution providers in growth areas, presumably driving greater loyalty and stickiness with those partners.
“As much as we can help develop a skilled partner in the market, it adds to our ability to drive the new technologies that are a key part of our future, and this program will help us continue to do that,” Farache said.
The program is available now in the Americas, and Farache said other regions are keeping a close eye on the program, and will be likely to introduce their own versions of the process, built around the unique nature of their specific markets.