The One Identity EMEA business has had a much higher percentage of channel business in recent years than the other geos, but since his promotion to global channel leader last year, Andrew Clarke has been working on changing that.
A year ago, Andrew Clarke was promoted from running strategic alliances and channel partnerships at the One Identity division of Quest in EMEA to the One Identity Global Head of Channels and Alliances. He set about implementing globally the types of measures he had implemented in EMEA, some of which were consistent with Quest’s overall channel philosophy since the 2016 spinout from Dell, but some of which were different. A year later, Clarke took stock of what has been accomplished, and what he envisions for the year ahead.
Quest historically, before and during its Dell period, had always been inconsistent in its approach to the channel across its different components and even product areas, which Clarke acknowledged was largely the result of numerous acquisitions of companies with very different channel strategies.
“Because the acquisitions had brought such mixed philosophies to the table, I started immediately working with top-tier management to make sure we had an attitude to work from partners from the top down,” Clarke told ChannelBuzz. “Last year, I became global leader because what we did in EMEA with One Identity was seen as driving the channel in the right direction. We drove the percentage of partners from 50% to the 70s, and now the low 80s. We put a global partner program in place, and top management bought in to a partner-first strategy. I now own Quest globally, as well as One Identity, and work with every Quest business’s channel team.”
Today, nearly 70% of One Identity global sales are connected to a channel partner, which doesn’t sound high, but Clarke pointed out that at the time of the 2016 spinoff from Dell, it was less than 30%. “EMEA is now in the 80s, and while there are still direct projects there, where customers want those, there is more involvement by partners like influencers even in those direct projects. This year we are looking at North America being 60-70% partner-related. A couple years ago, it was around 50%.”
Clarke said that the move in EMEA to partner-centricity began in late 2016 with the creation of a Partner Forum in Windsor in the U.K., where about 75 partners showed up.
“At the Forum, we showed them we would be a partner-first business going forward, and talked about the enablement elements of the program,” he said. “We emphasized we were supported by the CEO of One Identity, which was a separate legal entity from Quest at that time. We put together partner awards as well. The philosophy was to show partners we were all part of the same family, and that they were supported. We grew that philosophy and took it across Europe. The next time we did that event it doubled in size, and when we did it again in Budapest, we got 500 attendees, when it was combined with a customer event.”
In 2020, the global One Identity Partner Forum, like all after early February, had to be moved to a virtual format, where it drew 970 attendees.
“When we were forced to do it virtually, invited EMEA and APJ as well to what had been scheduled to be a North American event,” Clarke said. “We were very thoughtful about partners’ time. We also created a Slack channel aside the event, to enhance the networking environment with this supplementary communication channel. The third day of the event was a live breakout with partners.”
What is now the One Identity Partner Circle partner program was created in EMEA with the exit from Dell in 2016.
“We have been taking it into other regions,” Clarke said. “Last year we built out the bootcamps which were already in place virtually, and promoting them through the Partner Pulse newsletter, which now goes out every six weeks to partners. One tremendous benefit of the virtual bootcamps is coverage, because people don’t have to travel or stay in hotels. We typically have 40 or 50 people attending virtually, while in the classroom, we would get about 10.”
In a post-COVID world, Clarke expects to see a hybrid of physical and virtual bootcamps.
“We expect that the physical bootcamps will likely re-remerge as well after COVID, because partners like the networking aspect of talking to peers at a physical event,” he said.
Following Clarke’s promotion to the global role last year, he began implementing some of the EMEA changes worldwide.
“We added more people to the North American team, put more assets into the partner portal, and extended Partner Pulse to the global environment from EMEA,” Clarke added. “We saw an opportunity to be more significant in the marketplace.”
A key part of this was placing more emphasis on working with global systems integrators in North America.
“We now have big GSIs like Accenture, EY and Deloitte coming into the program and building strategic relationships,” he said. “Influencer partners are also much more important now, in large part because of their interaction with the KPMGs and Deloittes. We now support referral partners as well, who don’t close a deal, and we are looking at consultants as an additional category.”
Credentials for individual techs with partners are likely on the agenda too.
“We don’t have those badges of honor that provide confirmation of a skillset today,” Clarke said. “We have partners who achieve certificates which they use on RFPs, but we don’t call out individual consultants.”
The plan for 2021 is to keep their fingers crossed and plan to have the UNITE global conferences as physical events, with a failsafe in case COVID doesn’t co-operate.
“We are planning a physical event in the US and EMEA. but will slide to virtual or hybrid depending on circumstances,” Clarke indicated. “Partners and customers like looking at us face to face, so we will meet with them at these events as soon as its possible to do so. They build trust, and we need to get back to that.”
Finally, Clarke noted that while Quest has made several recent acquisitions, most recently erwin, none of these have been on the One Identity side of the house, so far.
“We haven’t acquired anything yet under the One Identity brand, but hopefully in 2021 we will see additional technology integrated there,” he said.