Splunk CEO says they are not the old Splunk and pledges more innovation and better partner support

At Splunk’s Global Partner Summit Monday, the company made several announcements of special relevance to partners, including OT-focused Splunk Edge Hub, the launch of Splunk on Azure Marketplace, and a major extension of their partnership with SAP.

Gary Steele and Gretchen O’Hara onstage

LAS VEGAS – On Monday, Splunk kicked off their major .conf23 customer event with their Global Partner Summit. CEO Gary Steele, Gretchen O’Hara, Splunk’s Vice President or Worldwide Channels and Alliances, and several other senior executives summed up announcements around the event of particular interest to the partner community, and what partners can expect going forward.

“We are not the old Splunk,” Steele told the well-attended WPC forum.

“I’ve now been here 15 months, and have spent a lot of time on the value we are delivering to customers and where we can improve,” he said. “We really needed to increase the pace of innovation. We need to be superfocused on driving great outcomes for customers. Partners can help them consolidate sets of tools. This is something customers want, to reduce the number of monitoring tools.”

Steele stressed that partners are critical to deliver this innovation to customers, particularly around the verticals where they are highly specialized.

“We are delivering a lot of new capabilities we think will be transformative, but they only work with partner support,” he said. “AI gives us the ability to drive some real advantages using Splunk data.”

Tom Casey, Splunk’s SVP of Product and Technology provided more detail on the AI strategy, and a key announcement around it being made at the event. He reiterated a theme executives are driving consistently here, that Splunk is one of the few companies that is a clear leader in both security and observability.

“Splunk AI has three unique things,” Casey said. “It is focused on JUST security and observability. It keeps humans in the loop, so we can recommend what to go after. We are also keeping it open extensible and flexible, and we count on you to build out customer capabilities.”

To this end, Splunk announced the official release of Splunk Edge Hub, which is focused on bringing operational technology [OT] data securely into the Splunk data base.

“We are deepening in OT environments, which has been a long time challenge,” Steele said.

“Splunk Edge Hub is also our first product sold exclusively though the partner channel,” Casey said. “We have developed this to bring observation to new use cases in OT. It is available now in the U.S. and we are bringing on partners fast to make it worldwide as soon as possible.”

The second major announcement made at GPS was the launch of Splunk on Azure Marketplace, which will see Splunk be sold there for the first time. Splunk customers who use Azure will be able to purchase Splunk as part of a broader acquisition strategy.

“Splunk has many customers who are all-in on Azure,” O’Hara said. This will make renewals in particular easier.”

O’Hara provided more details of Splunk’s commitment to its channel partners.

“We are here to celebrate the power of collaboration and all the achievements we have made together,” she said. “86% of deals in Q1 engaged with a partner.”

She also noted that for every dollar sold on Splunk product, that represents $7 in revenue services for partners.

“We have been collecting partner feedback, but feedback is one thing, and we are about action,” O’Hara stated.

The priority is to make their initiatives partner first, and that begins by simplifying the partner experience and streamlining it into a set of predefined journeys.

“This included our revamping of the onboarding process from 45 days to 5 days,” she said.

“Secondly, we are making sure we give you predictability and visibility on our road map,” O’Hara indicated. “With partners this year in some countries, we did pilots where we reshaped the portal to get information at your fingerprints to make you more profitable. We changed the partner progression path as it relates to your own annual contract threshold, from $500k to $100k, to make it easier for you to get started.”

Finally, O’Hara emphasized that the partner journey now means better leveraging the power of joint selling, and aligned incents so the focus is on the customer need, not who gets credit for the sale.

Casey had three specific asks for partners.

“We want you to talk about both security and observability to unify SOC and NOC conversations,” he said. “We want you to unify conversations about the edge. And we want you with us on the AI journey around the SOC and NOC.”

Christian Smith, Splunk’s CRO, had some counsel for partners as well.

“During COVID, there was a lot of sales turnover, and while others were affected more than us, we had a lot of change,” he told the audience. “Get to know the new organization and sales reps. We have a lot of new sellers at Splunk.

“We’ve got to improve partner growth and we are doing it,” Smith added. “We listened to you and adjusted our programs  and product. We are innovating a lot faster than we have for a long time.”

Smith said Splunk had doubled down on use case selling, something partners can help a lot.

Use cases are why customers buy Splunk,” he said. “That is why we need our partners more than ever – your domain expertise.”

Smith also made the final new offering announcement of the session, Splunk Security for SAP solutions.

“We have been working with the ecosystem to create a solution based on use cases to create solutions in a more compelling way,” he said. “Partners can sell this today and SAP has 25,000 customers.”

Andrew Kissolo, SVP Global Marketing at SAP, also stressed that Splunk is now available as an SAP endorsed app.

“This is the highest certification we bring to partners, and involved sales enablement, joint Go-to-Market of teams and marketing, including the ability of marketing teams to go to market together,” he said.