Splunk announces new global channel chief and additional partner incentives

Microsoft vet Aziz Benmalek takes over as Splunk’s global channel chief, while the company announced new partner incents, improvements to their partner portal, and the implementation of the new partner tracks announced at last fall’s Splunk .conf18.

Brooke Cunningham, Area VP of global partner programs and operations at Splunk

Today, Splunk is making several announcements of significance to their channel partners at their annual Global Partner Summit in Las Vegas. On a high level, they are announcing the appointment of Aziz Benmalek as Splunk’s Vice President, Worldwide Partners and Channel Chief. A long-time (22 years) Microsoft hand, he was most recently Vice President of Worldwide Cloud and Managed Service Providers there, and officially joined Splunk on February 4.

Splunk continues to grow its channel.

“We now have 1700 active partners in our ecosystem, up from 1600 at Splunk’s user .conf18 last fall,” said Brooke Cunningham, Area VP of global partner programs and operations. “Our focus is on that count of active and engaged partners.”

The metrics do show a lot of partner engagement, encouraged by specific incents.

“The growth has been very impressive,” Cunningham said. “Bookings increased 51 per cent, year over year, which is a really great number. Over 14,000 deals were sources through deal registration, and revenue from new partner-sourced deals was up 63 per cent Last year we had a big focus on new customers, and partners responded to the call. 76 per cent of new customers last year were contributed by partners.” A new customer rebate helped drive that metric.

“We really want to invest in partners who invest with us,” Cunningham said. “Look at our certification numbers. We had over 11,000 new technical certifications in the last year.”

Cunningham said she just completed another profitability study on the Splunk partner ecosystem, a followup to one that she did 18 months ago.

Aziz Benmalek, Splunk’s Vice President, Worldwide Partners and Channel Chief

“This time, we learned that the most profitable partners earn $6.30 in complementary services for every dollar they get in Splunk licenses,” she said. “It was $5 in the last survey 18 months ago, and it’s the services piece that is driving that. We saw a 61 per cent increase in services completed by partners, and a 31 per cent increase in Professional Services days for Splunk deployments. Our most profitable partners are also investing in customer success talent, hiring customer success managers.”

Cunningham said that the positive result of last year’s partner incents encouraged Splunk to double down on additional ones for the new year.

“Last year’s new customer rebate will continue since we saw good results, and we are adding new rebates as well,” she said. “One is around licensing models. We are shifting more to term licensing and cloud, especially multi-year licensing. Some partners are embracing this already, but to encourage more we are adding a rebate for driving multi-year deals. We are also supporting partners making investment in professional services with a rebate for partners selling and delivering their own services. Since we know we can’t do this ourselves, we want to reward their investment. In addition, we are adding a special rebate for our top tier partners for overachieving their growth targets.”

MSP incents are also being expanded for this year

“We are expanding the partners eligible for MSP incentives,” Cunningham said. “This year, those benefits, for new customer and multi-year discounts, are also stackable.”

Some enhancements have also been made to the reseller track.

“We are always looking to simplify things,” Cunningham said. “We are making deal registration simpler, and making it simpler to engage with our direct sales teams. We are also providing more clarity around renewals as well, clarifying incumbency.”

Last fall Splunk announced that two new tracks in their partner program for system integrators and OEMs would be rolled out at this event, and they are now live.

“We have been doing business with several SIs, but this new SI track will allow us to scale that,” Cunningham said. “We are really focused on verticals with the SI. We have a close relationship with Accenture, and have developed very targeted customer solutions with things like solutions for grocery retail.”

Splunk has also upgraded their partner portal.

“We made a number of enhancements to drive a more simple, engaging experience, some of which were based on partner feedback and some on inbound inquiries,” Cunningham noted. “We have made over 100 enhancements in functionality, including making new partner activation much easier. Onboarding is now as automated as we can get it.”

The goal is to get everything totally automated.

“Partner activation was something we wanted to improve when we did our RFP for the portal,” Cunningham said. “We think that we are 80 per cent of the way there. There are still due diligence and legal things which are not 100 per cent automated, and require human intervention. Automation is so valuable here. Software license provisioning was the major reason for contacting the help desk. When we automated that, we reduced inbound inquiries, which was a huge positive.”

Cunningham noted that the ongoing refresh of the portal has driven higher levels of engagement.

“We have over 200,000 logins into the portal, from over 19,000 unique users,” she said.