Document productivity vendor Nitro launches new partner program as they move to platform model

The new Partner Acceleration Program, along with a new partner portal, are focused on better enabling global resellers and distributors, but as Nitro expands their platform approach, including eSignature as well as PDF, they are also strengthening bonds with new types of partners.

Simon Taylor, Vice President of Global Channel and Alliances at Nitro

San Francisco-based Nitro Software, which has historically competed against Adobe in the PDF market with lower-cost offerings, has stepped up its partner enablement support. They have launched a new Partner Acceleration Program, to provide better support to their traditional partners than their previous program. They have also launched a partner portal – their first. These changes are part of a broader transformation of Nitro, which is seeing it expand both its offerings and the way it sells them, which includes both a shift to a platform approach and bringing in new types of partners.

“We actually just rebranded and launched our new platform,” said Simon Taylor, Vice President of Global Channel and Alliances at Nitro. “We have had a PDF competitor technology to Adobe Acrobat, and we have been using that to disrupt Adobe’s market, and created a healthy business around that. But we have been buying into other areas including e-signing technology, which is a natural extension of what we have been doing. We didn’t have a clear Go-to-Market until we went from selling multiple products to our new Nitro Productivity Platform. It is similar to the Adobe program, but broader, with embedded analytics. We are morphing to become a very different type of organization, as we move into a platform world.”

Along with the move to a platform, Nitro is evolving into a subscription-based model.

“We have been morphing from perpetual licensing to subscription, with different tiers,” Taylor said. “The model is similar to Adobe but done in a more economical way to address operational use cases at a much cheaper price point – Adobe and DocuSign are expensive for solving issues like employee onboarding. We come at that space directly, to make the cost non-prohibitive.”

Nitro is used broadly in the SMB, midmarket and enterprise, although the latter tends to be on a project basis.

“We have a lot of Fortune 1000, with 66% using us in some capacity,” Taylor said. “There’s a ‘play nice’ model with Adobe and DocuSign in the enterprise that will fit. The midmarket and SMB is more traditional territory for us, and we get a high volume of business there because Adobe has priced themselves out of that. Our move to a platform gives us a chance for a much more integrated model in this area.”

Taylor joined Nitro in February, coming from LucidWorks, where he had been VP of Channel Sales and Alliances. At Nitro, Taylor said that his role existed before, but in a more isolated way.

“It was more reactive, and focused on distribution channel management,” he said. “When I did my due diligence, I was surprised how large the channel was, extending across APAC, EMEA and North America. It has been predominantly resell, however. We haven’t, until recently, embraced co-sell, or GSIs. We haven’t really monetized our analytics because of that focus on traditional resell distribution. My career has been about extending that framework. In the second half of this fiscal year, we will focus on expanding alliance and SI partners, to create multiple routes to market.”

The Partner Acceleration Program’s main focus, however, is helping those traditional partners make more money. Their channel is a fairly standard 80-20 model, where the majority of their business comes from their top partners, while they have a long tail that goes through distribution.

“We determined that in the distribution and resell model, we could do more in accelerating the ability of those partners to make money,’ Taylor said. “We invested in new discounts where it made sense, and gave new ways to think about customer value.”

For example, Diablo now compensates beyond the first deal with a customer. which is more customary in SaaS.

“Just compensating on the first deal doesn’t work in SaaS, when  it is all about ‘ land and expand,’” Taylor said. “We provide deep incentives on expand opportunities as well.”

The new portal uses a Salesforce PRM.

“That was the fastest way of doing it,” Taylor said.

Looking ahead, Taylor said Nitro will leverage its focus on Microsoft and Salesforce to build a stronger line to integrators.

“We just launched a Salesforce app, and are in the early stages of monetizing and growing that relationship,” he stated. “I just hired someone to run that. It aligns nicely with the Azure consumption model, which is key for us. We are also focused on bringing additional partnerships on line around collaboration in the e-signing world. “

On the integrator side, Nitro will be emphasizing that they are not building a professional services arm, and that they can complement digital transformation projects of both GSIs and boutique integrators.
“We will be making Accenture aware of how we fit and how they can build services around what we do,” Taylor said. “Two to three years from now, depending how the alliance model takes off, we might work to more of a co-sell framework, with less resell and distribution.”