The new 8x8 PartnerXchange Platform replaces a clunky predecessor, and makes it easier for partners to do business with 8x8. It’s part of 8x8 channel chief John DeLozier’s strategy to drive the company’s channel business more effectively.
Voice, video, collaboration and contact centre solution provide 8×8 has launched a new online portal, 8×8 PartnerXchange. It’s a much more seamless tool than the one it replaces. It’s also part of a strategy to drive 8×8’s channel business to the next level.
Channel leadership during the last year at 8×8 – if not the actual channel strategy – has seen some tectonic shifts. Current channel chief John DeLozier and Bill Corbin, his immediate predecessor at 8×8, both came to the company from CenturyLink, where Corbin ran channels and strategic partnerships globally, and DeLozier ran the U.S. program. Both men interviewed for essentially those same roles at 8×8 in early 2018. Corbin came over in April, and DeLozier came over in June – to the U.S. role. Chris Peters, who had run 8×8 channels before Corbin’s arrival, moved to a new role in the U.K. where he remains. Corbin’s tenure at 8×8 was very short, however. He departed the company, and his global responsibilities wound up being added to DeLozier’s position.
Channel strategy has also seen some significant changes under DeLozier from what it had been previously, as well as from what Corbin had intended to do. Corbin, who had spent a decade at distributor Westcon, had planned to scale-up 8×8’s distribution, and extend their go-to-market with ISV relationships.
“We have gotten the VAR distribution working, but for me, the focus has been maximizing the Master Agency top-down approach,” DeLozier said. “8×8 had worked extensively with this channel, but their focus had been more in the sub-agent world, in a bottom-up approach. By working with the top 10 Master Agents, we effectively work with around 4000 sub-agents underneath them. As a result, we have tripled the size of that business, putting national account managers in place to take care of those top 10 masters, and putting field agents in place to cover the sub-agents. We also expanded our channel marketing, and tied this strategy to this channel at the hip.”
DeLozier comes out of the channel himself.
“I was born and raised in the channel,” he said. “I owned ACT, Avaya’s largest system application developer, and was there from 1994 to January 2007, when it was sold to Cross Telecom, an Avaya partner based in Minneapolis. Cross in turn was sold to Arrow in 2010, and I stayed at Arrow for three years as Senior Vice President of Sales, before moving to CenturyLink.”
DeLozier said that bringing in 8×8 PartnerXchange, the new online portal, is analogous to the changes within 8×8’s partner program itself.
“The portal is not the program, but the old portal was a symptom of the way that the old program worked,” he said. “Over the years, 8×8 had acquired many companies, with associated personnel and technology changes, and we wound up with this cobbled-together portal that just wasn’t doing the job. April Miller, our Channel Management and Operations Director [who also came from CenturyLink] emphasized this to me, and took on the project.” 8×8 engaged a specialist firm who built the new portal from the ground-up with a Salesforce back end.
The new portal offers significant advantages to both 8×8 and their partners.
“These days, it’s all about data,” DeLozier said. “We are a software company, but its really about the data. Because our portal was several different systems put together, we couldn’t get a good cross section of data, which we wanted for analytics. We wanted to know things like how many times our partners log in, and what they do, and the old portal couldn’t tell us that. With this new portal, it’s way past ‘you log and it works.’ Every time a partner logs in, it’s very intuitive. It provides that data about what partners are doing in the portal, and we have people who study that data, and can make enhancements to the portal based on those usage patterns.”
From the partner end, the same process makes it easier for partners to do business with 8×8. It facilitates a faster and easier to use deal registration process, access to marketing tools, and to training and certification materials.
“It’s a much more automated and intuitive process than it was before, which allows things to be done in real-time,” DeLozier said.