Splunk announces enhanced partner benefits at Global Partner Summit

Last year’s refocus on the channel saw Splunk more than double the size of their partner base. This year they are looking to drive further by enhancing the existing partner tracks and formalizing two new ones.

Brooke Cunningham, Splunk’s AVP of global partner programs and operations

LAS VEGAS – Last year saw a lot of heavy lifting in Splunk’s partner program, as the company made some major moves to increase their channel business, particularly by formalizing new tracks in their Partner+ channel program. This year, the plan is to build on the achievements of last year. Two previously ad hoc tracks, for distributors and for referral partners, have now been formalized. There are also plenty of enhancements to the existing tracks. ‎Brooke Cunningham, Splunk’s AVP of global partner programs and operations, announced the changes at Splunk’s Global Partner Summit here.

“In our fiscal 2018, which ended at the end of January, we saw a 40 per cent increase in partner bookings year over year,” Cunningham said. “We also more than doubled the size of our partner ecosystem year over year. Last year we announced that we had 750 partners globally. Now we have  1659, so we have more than doubled that.”

Cunningham, who joined Splunk a year and ten months ago, has overseen a reinvigoration of Splunk’s channel efforts. While the company has had a channel before, and signed its first North American distribution agreement with Arrow in 2015, the emphasis was more on the direct side.

“I have spent my entire career in channel business since 1998, at companies like SAP and Business Objects,” Cunningham said. “I came to Splunk after Doug Merritt, who I worked with at SAP. A new channel sales leader came in at the same time. Her area is global partner program partner operations and partner marketing We determined to accelerate the focus on the partner business – bringing the right talent into the organization, and investing in the partner experience and partner program. We retooled the partner program and the partner business. We also established key goals last year – to make things more simple, more predictable, and more profitable for partners.”

A big part of last years changes was new formalized tracks for MSPs, Professional Services partners and Technology Alliance partners.

“We have a very well-established partner ecosystem across partner types,” Cunningham said. “Technology Alliance partners like Cisco add on connectors. AWS is a strategic partner. We have global SI partners like Accenture, who is a strategic partner. We have regional SI partners, outsourced professional services partners, and delivery partners. One of the fast growing one is MSPs and MSSPs. The Herjavec Group in Toronto is an example there. Resellers are the largest proportion of partners, which in Canada includes Spico, and R Solutions. We still work with Arrow for all of North America.”

So what’s new for the 2019 fiscal year?

“We have a strong partner listening practice within Splunk, and based on that we are adding new components, and new benefits within existing tracks,” Cunningham indicated. “We have added more benefits where we could, and reduced some requirements to drive more uptick, adding more value and taking out things where it made sense.”

The reseller track sees a number of changes, building on last year’s addition of a deal registration desk and a simplified discount structure.

“We are continuing to add incents, additional rebates and spiffs to drive net-new customers,” Cunningham said. “We have also simplified certification requirements and some revenue requirements. We have also added a tier for partners to engage with us if they play in multiple theatres.”

Cunningham said that the new Technology Alliance partner tier has had great uptake.

“We want to make it easier for them to come into the ecosystem, so we are now making it easier to activate and onboard,” she said. “They will also now have access to always-on marketing tools which had been focused more at sales partners before. We are also rolling out a new tier for Referrals, to which Technology partners will have access.”

Many Reseller partners are also Professional Services partners, and changes have been made to that tier as well.

“We have simplified the requirements, adding benefits and support,” Cunningham said. “The big one is the addition of specializations. This will allow them to badge themselves for customers.” The specializations are aimed at the customer side, and are not a partner program requirement, as they are now in some partner programs.

“For MSP partners, the changes include additional marketing benefits, and training discounts in order to increase time to value,” Cunningham said.

Both the new tracks, Distribution and Referral, were there in de facto status before, but have now been formalized.

“With distribution, we are simplifying the discount structure to make it more consistent, and more back end incentives have been added, and paired with back end rebates,” Cunningham said. “A Referral track for non-sales partners or non-partners to refer deals was informal before, and is now being formalized.”

A further track, for OEMs, is also being formalized, but was not quite ready for the Global Partner Summit.

“This is a futures, for later in this fiscal year,” Cunningham said.

The Splunk Partner Portal has also been enhanced, with a Partner Locator, and a New Partner Business Planning Tool. April will see it improved further, with the addition of a single sign-on capability.