Ivanti looks to reforge strong channel by naming Michelle Hodges as new channel chief

Hodges comes over from Gitlab to strengthen Ivanti’s channel relationships and routes to market following a period of turmoil, and is joined by John Beuchert as Vice President, Global Partner Programs and Strategy.

Michelle Hodges, Senior Vice President, Global Channels and Alliances, Ivanti

IT management platform provider Ivanti, which announced the launch of a new partner program earlier this month, has appointed a new channel leadership team to execute its vision. Michelle Hodges, who came to Ivanti from GitLab following previous channel leadership roles at Gigamon and Riverbed, has been named Senior Vice President, Global Channels and Alliances. John Beuchert is the new Vice President, Global Partner Programs and Strategy.

Ivanti has had some recent channel management issues because they tried to make up in a hurry for an earlier reluctance to integrate partners from acquired companies into the broader company framework. While Ivanti acquired many companies following the acquisition of Appsense in 2016 and the merger between LANDESK and HEAT in 2017 that led to the creation of the Ivanti name, the acquired channels remained intact and the clear goal of getting them all to cross-sell assets from the other legacy companies was not pursued in a forceful fashion. As a result, in early 2020, Ivanti made major changes to how their channel strategy worked, focusing on far fewer partners and taking renewals from partners and centralizing them in a new business unit, with the intention of increasing customer satisfaction. The cost, however, was a greatly increased number of disgruntled partners.

“It’s one thing to take away renewals if you replace them with something else, which they didn’t,” Hodges indicated. “Yesterday is history, but moving forward we will create value-driven incentives with the ecosystem. There is for example a massive service opportunity for partners to take, but this will all need to be communicated well and incented well.”

Hodges said that while all the past channel turmoil clearly hasn’t helped the company, she does not think that any long-term damage has necessarily been done to channel relations.

“I’ve been here for a few weeks, and have met with a dozen partners,” she stated. “I have not heard from them that this was a deal breaker. But we do need to make the investment and show loyalty and trust. I’m not naïve. I know that there is a legacy that is a reality. But we are all business folks, and if we create the right value for each other, I shouldn’t think these will be long-lasting issues.”

Hodges explained the specific tasks she was brought in to execute.

“The first was to re-establish the value agreements across all components,” she said. “The focus will not just be on renewals, but on engagement and focus and all those things. Secondly, we presently have eight or nine different routes to market, and we need to determine how we can invest disproportionately in the ones which are the real drivers to our growth. The third is enhancing opportunities for our partners, especially in more newly acquired businesses like MobileIron, to grow their business.”

Hodges said that the previous Go-to-Market strategy was too scattershot to be really effective.

“There were routes to market a little all over the place, with different strategies for areas like telco and channel distribution,” she stated. “Now all these indirect routes are under me.”

Hodges intends to follow a very specific and intertwined ecosystem strategy.

“The hyperscaler that builds the funnel takes to be aware of and partnered with the GSI that’s doing the transaction and the DMR that executes on it,” she said. “You need to build programs that are not siloed. This requires enabling your sales people to understand that so that you can create the best system for the customer.”

A key Ivanti goal remains getting more partners to sell beyond the legacy products they sold before their companies were acquired, and sell complementary products from other solution pillars as well.

“Partners are excited to do that, and the onus is on us to enable them,” Hodges indicated. “Our uplevel program has incentives for cross selling and for delivering professional services. I’m a big fan of incenting partners along the customer lifecycle.”

Looking ahead, Hodges said that partners will like some of the things on the agenda.

“We’ve got some really exciting things planned around routes, executing key business plans with our most important partners.” Hodges concluded. “I’m excited to see where that lands us in the first year.”