Martello's strong partnership with Mitel has made the Mitel channel important to their Go-to-Market, but in the wake of Martello's GSX acquisition and pivot toward digital experience management, Mike Danforth's past experience in partnering with GSIs and Microsoft will be critical.
Ottawa-based Martello Technologies Group has named Mike Danforth as Vice President, Global Partnerships and Sales. Danforth is the first executive in this role for Martello, and the timing is deliberate. A little over a month ago, Martello announced the acquisition of Swiss-based GSX, which provides end-user experience monitoring for Microsoft 365. That technology is part of Martello’s pivot within the network management space to digital experience monitoring. Danforth’s experience with the channel ecosystem in this space makes him the exec to oversee the partnering component of this initiative.
Martello began in 2009 as a network performance analytics vendor, going public in late 2018 to take a unified communications/SD-WAN offering to market. The SD-WAN component, acquired in early 2018 with Elfiq Networks, has been badly hit by the pandemic, as their market has been badly battered. Much of this division has been laid off, and the company announced over a month ago it plans to divest it.
A majority of the company’s revenue (55%) comes from a long-term strategic partnership with Mitel, and the Mitel channel has been Martello’s principal channel focus.
“We still have the Mitel channel and its not going anywhere,” said John Proctor, Martello’s President and CEO. “Mitel has rolled their new product miCloud Flex into the market, and we can leverage it. However, when we were looking at where we were going with the GSX acquisition, it truly made sense to bring on a senior channel exec. Mike has experience with other channels, which we can also leverage.”
Danforth’s resume includes positions at companies like SafeGuard Cyber and Hootsuite where he managed strategic relationships, but the most relevant is likely an almost three year stint at SaaS customer experience management provider Sprinklr.
“I built their channel program from pretty much nothing,” he said. “I initially launched sales and operations for Sprinklr in Canada, and then ran their entire channel organization. I built out relationships with GSI partners, including EY and PWC. I also built a large relationship between Sprinklr and Microsoft. It took 24-30 months to build an 8-figure partnership with them.”
That Microsoft relationship is important because of GSX’s focus around the rebranded Office 365 suite.
“GSX is an exciting new thing in North America,” Proctor said. “They have more traction and presence in EMEA, where they have been headquartered. When we are looking for partners, our ability to bring in GSX is a differentiator. 70% of what channels monitor is hybrid cloud, where GSX has a much better product.” GSX is also new to the channel, since it had been sold basically direct before the acquisition.
The pivot around digital experience management is a key reason for the new channels initiative.
“The next big wave in digital transformation will be through digital experience management,” Danforth stated. “The decentralization of workforces due to COVID-19 and the increased number of people working remotely is a reason for this. Many of these large enterprises have implicit relationships with large partners who are trusted advisors. That’s how we extend our sales force going forward. We get them to bring us into those organizations.”
Danforth has had success in the past partnering his companies with GSIs, who are highly lucrative as partners, but who are difficult to enlist, especially by newer or less well-known companies.
“GSIs don’t care about your product,” he said. They don’t want to resell you. It’s all about services revenue for them and the margins they make. To get them to care, you have to show them the white space you unlock so that they can charge more billable margins in a white space they haven’t touched.” That’s something Martello can do with digital experience management, Danforth emphasized.
Among the GSIs, Accenture, and possibly Deloitte, EY, and PWC seem to be partner candidates, he said. Other key strategic partners besides Microsoft include Salesforce and Google, around the Google Suite.
Riverbed is another potential strategic partner, although that’s because Rich McBee, who led Mitel during the years when their Martello partnership grew, recently moved to Riverbed as CEO.
“We are talking to Riverbed,” Proctor said. “We would like to have a relationship with Riverbed. Rich also knows we are very good at OEM, and that we worked very hard with Paessler to get that relationship. “We would love to get aligned with Riverbed.”
Global expansion is another priority with the channel expansion, although Martello already has a healthy global business, with 40% of their sales coming from outside North America.
“Companies will be coming out of COVID at different rates, and if you aren’t global, you can be stymied,” Proctor said. “We think when IT spends come back to where they were, it will be different across the globe.”
“Understanding how different regions buy is a different challenge than just building partnerships,” Danforth said. “In EMEA for example, the GSIs who are big here aren’t the same ones who are big there. There, the big one is IBM Global Business Systems, which isn’t big here any more. Of course in Europe, they are SAP heavy. Part of our channel strategy is determining what partners make the best sense in a regional context to support our rollouts.”