Pivot3 reworks partner program to improve structure, and support for both IT and OT partners

Pivot3’s heavy video surveillance business means they have a rough balance of IT and OT partners, and the new program has a greater focus on teaching both to speak the other’s language.

Bruce Milne, Pivot3’s CMO

Hyperconverged infrastructure [HCI] provider Pivot3 has announced a significant working of their Global Partner Program. The key changes are the addition of much more structure in place of what had been a fairly ad hoc program, and the implementation of enhanced enablement support like training and MDF funds around it. Pivot3 is also unusual in the HCI space in having close to an even balance of partners from the IT and OT side, and this program is specifically aimed at both, reaching out to the OT partners who have been less likely to partake in IT partner programs.

“Part of our evolution as a business has been to recognize our areas of strength,” said Bruce Milne, Pivot3’s CMO. “We are in the top 7 HCI vendors in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, but we focus on video-based computing applications and adjacent applications around analytics and virtual desktop. Many of the other HCI vendors aren’t in those areas at all.”

That uniqueness is reflected in Pivot3’s channel partners. The company has a 100% channel model, and while three quarters of their demand comes from Pivot3’s own sales force, all those sales go through a partner. However, about 60% of those partners globally are security integrators, while 40% are IT VARs. In North America, it’s close to an even balance – the Middle East and Latin America are heavy on security. But there are still a lot of North American partners from the OT side of the house.

“We have a unique application of HCI that a lot of security integrators are involved in,” Milne said. “They don’t typically participate in IT partner programs. They don’t know deal registration. What this program does now is integrate our IT partners and these security partners.”

From a programmatic point of view, this means teaching both groups how to talk the language of the other.

“We are adding a lot of enablement capabilities, because we have to do the blocking and tackling of teaching how to sell and demo,” Milne said. “Security integrators have no idea how to talk to an IT audience. IT integrators don’t know how to do things on the security side.

“We want to teach both to embrace the broader audience, and give both sets of integrators the knowledge that they need,” Milne added. “Anyone selling HCI who doesn’t know how to sell the video component is missing 60% of the revenue.”

Most IT partners haven’t made the move. Milne said that while some of this reflects partner reluctance to add new focuses, part of it also reflects the views of buyers in major parts of the OT market.

“The OT market doesn’t trust them,” he indicated. “If you are involved in airport security, you can’t mess around with someone new to this. These are mission-critical use cases, and there are no IT integrators who can deliver that kind of mission criticality.”

The new program has three tiers – Authorized, Select and Premier Partners. The old program had three tiers as well, but the programs were very different.

Nikki Cardenas, Pivot3’s Director of Channel Marketing

“There was a tiered system before, but there wasn’t a true definition of what the tiers were,” said Nikki Cardenas, who joined Pivot3 as Director of Channel Marketing in July. “There wasn’t a good strategic plan when I came in, just an ad hoc system.”

“Nikki has put a lot of structure in place,” Milne said. “Before, partners would come into the program and say they would get a specific amount of revenue and we would give them MDF. But there wasn’t any structure and accountability around this.”

“The new program focuses on clearly defined terms and value-based training,” Cardenas said. “We collaborated with key partners to get feedback around what made them successful. They asked for better MDF training and leads, as well as regular QBRs and business training.”

Resources around both MDF and qualified leads have been increased, and will be allotted to the top two tiers, Premier and Select.

The training is required for tier status, and is available both online and onsite. Despite the more formal tier rules in place, there is some flexibility there.

“Partners wanted to be able to train to level 3 or 4 in video surveillance as they grow within the program, so we put together training catalogues,” Cardenas said. “However, not every partner is the same. Some don’t want to get to level 3 or 4. But to be a Premier Partner, you have to have  four individuals who are trained [Select is two, and Authorized is one]. So we make special alliances for smaller regional partners who don’t have the bandwidth to have four people trained, For those partners it could be two.”

In addition to Cardenas, Pivot3 also announced the addition of industry veterans Perry Levine, Ed Jopeck, Marcel Williams, James Rigg and Dave Schatz to the channel team.

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