The digital portal allows partners to track deals and register opportunities, and while the previous program has something similar, NetApp’s channel chief says that this one is better.
LAS VEGAS – While NetApp’s INSIGHT 2023 event was well attended by their channel partners, the event itself did not highlight channel news. In large part this was because the big channel news, the formal launch of the company’s new Unified Partner Program, took place several months ago at the beginning of August. While no channel announcements took place at the event itself, NetApp indicated that it is about to launch a new partner hub, which will take place in the next week or two.
“When we launched in August, it followed a white glove process over the previous six months, making sure that partners knew how they should prepare for the new program,” said Jenni Flinders, SVP, Worldwide Partner Organization at NetApp. “We had a very successful launch – and nothing went wrong. Partner completion of solution competencies has been phenomenal, with approximately 1600 competencies to date.”
Many mature vendors hold a Partner Day on the first day of their event, variously dubbed Day 1 or Day 0. There was no partner day at this INSIGHT, however.
“This is because we implemented local partner summits across the geos,” Flinders said. “I’m about to go to Vietnam to one of these summits, followed by Australia, New Zealand and India. It lets me develop more personal connections down in the different geos. We have also been running the partner academies with their sales and technical training, and made them consistent across all the geos.” Flinders noted that all these local in-country events are fully face to face.
Flinders said that the feedback from partners she heard at the event was very positive.
“I spent time this morning walking with our Advisory Board through a multiplier study that an analyst firm did independently for us,” Flinders indicated. “It showed partners that there is so much opportunity across the portfolio.” She noted as well that partners liked the philosophical change from the previous program, where partners no longer specialize by product, but instead are encouraged to focus on services.
NetApp is making a push in the AI space, and while in a perfect world, all partners would embrace the opportunity and collaborate closely with the company, Flinders said that, unfortunately, that’s never the case with disruptive technologies no matter how strong the opportunity.
“Are all the partners there now?,” she asked rhetorically. “No. Some will never get there, but we do have a good base for whom it is the sweet spot, and others who are building out that capability.”
Flinders noted as well that data scientists, who are much more involved in AI procurement than in traditional IT, which is outside of their skillsets and area of interest, are becoming an expanding market for partners.
“Partners who are AI partners first don’t try and sell data scientists storage,” she said. “They sell them outcomes. We see them more as something like artificial intelligence infrastructure architects, and we do see that growing.”
The hard news specifically for channel partners from INSIGHT is that the new partner portal is almost ready.
“We are launching a new partner hub – a digital portal that goes beyond disseminating information,” Flinders said. “It can track deals and register opportunities. We had this type of portal in the old program, but we have made this one bigger and better. It will be launching in a week or two.”