Talend emphasizes more creative, flexible training in partner program changes

Talend is looking to make it easier for their Big Data and cloud-focused partners to build the new and complex integrations now required when delivering Talend in projects.

Rolf Heimes, senior director Alliances, Channel and Partner Programs at Talend

Cloud and big data integration solutions provider Talend has announced that they are significantly enhancing partner enablement capabilities through their global partner program. All of the enhancements are focused on training and skills development, to ramp up partners’ ability to deliver today’s more complex cloud Big Data solutions.

Talend is French in origin, although now headquartered in Redmond City CA.  In 2012, new management – Silicon Valley people –  made the decision, relatively early in the growth days of Big Data, to focus around Hadoop Spark code output.

“That was a big bet that paid off, and allowed us to grow very aggressively in the Big Data market,” said Rolf Heimes, senior director Alliances, Channel and Partner Programs at Talend. “As a result, we are now one of the major players in Big Data integration.”

Since that time, Talend has shifted their focus from coding for developers to making it easier for the business user to work with Big Data.

“Now, at a time when everyone is pivoting to the cloud, we are making a big bet around cloud data integration, and making all our offerings cloud-ready,” Heimes said.

While Talend has a good presence in large enterprises, they also do well in the midmarket, and with enterprise departmental-level deployments.

“We find that many companies start us with departmental solutions, and roll them out, and become bigger,” Heimes said. “A lot of cloud adoption frequently comes from departments, even in large organizations.”

The go-to-market was originally direct, but Talend has been building out a channel recently.

“Two years ago, at the time I joined Talend, the company made another big bet, that the channel is the way to scale,” Heimes. “Now over 25 per cent of our business is driven through the channel. All three theatres in which we operate are fairly strong in the channel, although there are some individual countries where we are not.

Canada is not one of those.

“We have always have had customers there, but in the last twelve months, we have put field executives there, whereas before we served it out of the U.S.,” Heimes said. “We are now also seeing partner requests for collaboration.”

Talend has a relatively select partnering strategy.

“I used to be a partner myself, and I always found it annoying when I realized that a vendor was also partnered with people right next door to me,” Heimes said. “We don’t really believe in that model. We also want partners where we fit each other’s profile – and that means partners who are cloud-first, and Big Data focused, and who we don’t have to explain data lineage to. There really aren’t that many who have that profile. We also want partners to build a practice around Talend.”

Their partners are pretty much equally divided between VARs and system integrators, although the number of MSP partners is picking up as traditional VARs move into that space.

Heimes said that the changes being made to the program now reflect its maturation.

“When we started the program, we wanted one that was simple for partners to join, and simple for them to make money, so that we could get the attention of good partners,” he stated. “Now we are seeing that what matters less are the table stakes issues like MDF. It’s rather ensuring that the partner is extremely successful in the eyes of their customers.”

The way to do that, Heimes said, is more flexible and effective training.

“Historically, vendors have had a very rigid process of training,” he said. “Cloud and Big Data are still new concepts. You just aren’t going to find many architects with years of experience with Azure, who know how to build a hybrid architecture between MapR and Azure. These are things partners want, but which can’t be trained with a 100 per cent standardized model. That’s what we are trying to solve with our newer approach.”

Talend already offered online On-Demand Training [ODT], so partners could take training on their own time.

“Now we are reworking this training based on partner experience with it, to streamline it and shorten it,” Heimes said. “We are also adding a second element of training. ODT has a lot of lab work, but it is still ‘book smart.’ So we are adding Boot Camps that can be taken once the basic element is done, to take it to the next level. At the Boot Camps, resellers work with our Customer Success Architect [CSA] organization. The Boot Camps last two to three days, depending on the product.”

Talend is also expanding their online chat support.

“We offer scheduled office hours for chat windows manned by our CSA organization, to help with detailed technical issues that come up,” Heimes said. “Before, we had this just for our big partners and only once a week. Now it is twice a week, and will be available to all registered partners.” The chat will be available in all regions, and is currently being piloted in EMEA.

The certification program has also been improved with a proctored certification process, in which the candidate writing the test can’t be sure if they are being observed at any time or not.

Talend’s certifications are more about demonstrating value to prospects than mandatory components of the program.

“We didn’t think it was the right approach to make certification mandatory, because certified people put it on their LinkedIn – and that makes them much more likely to be poached by a competitor,” Heimes said. “It’s still important for dealing with prospects and customers because it represents a stamp of approval by the vendor.”

Finally, Talend is implementing an Architect Assist program that lets partners secure technical assistance on customer projects around ramping and launching new architectures based on Talend.

“I call this a honeypot.” Heimes said. “If you are implementing something new, we can look at it and see if we can help you, to make sure that you as a partner do not fail your project. The support is to a maximum of twice a day for four days, and can be online or in-person. If in-person, the only cost to the partner is the architect’s travel and expenses.

“Partners don’t want to be left alone in front of their customer if they are doing something for the first time,” Heimes said. “We have done this a dozen times, and every single experience has been stellar.”