More mature Conga channel strategy having success

Conga discussed the evolution of their channel strategy with ChannelBuzz, while some channel partners indicated what they were looking to see around the Conga event.

Scott Owen, Global Vice President, Partnerships and Alliances, Conga

DALLAS – Lifecycle management vendor Conga has been both diversifying and upscaling its channel and having a considerable degree of success with both. The company called out their channel for the recent success at the opening day of their Conga Connect event here.

“You are an extension of our brand,” said Noel Goggin, Conga’s CEO, onstage during his opening keynote. “The problems we face are gnarly complex issues of driving change management.”

This level of channel productivity is not exactly new for Conga.

“When I came on board we had 850 or so partners, of which I might have described maybe five as solidly producing partners,” said Scott Owen, Global Vice President, Partnerships and Alliances, who joined Conga in January 2022, and like several other senior Conga executives, has a DocuSign pedigree.

The restructuring of the Conga channel has taken place along the company’s four pillar strategy.

The first of those is what Owen termed a GSI/RSI strategy, with the large global integrators complemented by those who are particularly strong in one region of the world.

“That’s one pillar,” he said. “The second is our reseller motion, and that doubled in revenue over the last year.”

Owen noted that there had been some significant operational changes there.

“I’ve hardened our reseller motion,” he said. “We used to have 14 different ways to get to a reseller transaction, and we have reduced that. In addition. some of our GSIs now want to resell, primarily because pressure on their services margin encourages reselling to take pressure  off their services motion.”

The third pillar is hyperscalers. A key partnership with AWS was announced a year ago which included a presence in the AWS marketplace. This has now been complemented by a newly announced partnership with Azure.

“We had a very successful first full year with AWS and did over 10 million dollars worth of Annual Contract Value,” Owen noted. “Azure is more oriented to the Microsoft Dynamics ecosystem, but depending on where you are in the globe, either one or both resellers could be critical to your strategy.”

The fourth pillar is Conga’s ISV motion.

“This is the one that I’m most excited about,” Owen said. “This includes establishing API connectors with a lot of players along a well-defined strategy.  Our goal is to get to 200,000 ISVs. We intend to start out with a handful and white glove them to our platform.”

Owen acknowledged that this will require a lot of work.

“Our ability to write really good APIs is still developing,” he said. “Today, we are in very specific countries.”

Another key strategic objective is better defining their relationship with Salesforce, which on one hand is a long-time collaborator, and on the other has clear signers of a co-opetition or frenemy type of relationship.

“Our Salesforce relationship is more competitive than not,” Owen said. “They have CPQ and CLM. They don’t have Sign but they have a formidable relationship with DocuSign that extends from my days there. We have to define changes to our structure of co-opetition with Salesforce and we are still trying to figure that out.”

Derek Magnusen, Head of Revenue Management at GSI Cognizant a self-contained business unit that came through the acquisition of Advanced Technology Group in 2018 and which covers lines of business that rolls up into quote for cash, emphasized they are pleased with Conga’s strategic direction with partners.

“We have been working with them for eight years on the CLM side, but we have reinvested in the last couple of years,” he said. “Our decision there was specific to product change. Replatforming was really important. Since we also work mainly in the enterprise, having partners who can handle high complexity quotes in contracts is important. Not all can.  We’ve always been a full quote to cash capability service, and have a robust billing practice, similar to a global service provider with a boutique approach.”

Magnusen said that they have been getting what they hoped to see around Conga Connect from a channel perspective.

“We were looking for a real understanding of the product roadmap,” he said. “We were looking to better understand the partner ecosystem including our competitors. We were also looking to use these to find new customers. Overall, there were no real surprises but it was nice to see the maturity of the product strategy.”

Conga also has a string relationship with the CLM arm of Epiq, which was known as Mainspring before their acquisition by Epiq. The former Mainspring CEO, Mauro Caputi, who is now Managing Director, CLM Sales at Epiq, has had a long-time strong relationship with Conga.

“We stayed loyal and true as a partner of Aptus until they were acquired, and once that took place, we shifted our focus to Conga,” Caputi said.

“A lot of what we do is advise legal departments to find monetary values, in what they do,” said Rebecca Yoder, Senior Director at Epiq. “Legal is not known to be a revenue generation. Everything had been about mitigation of no and purely cost. But now with revenue assets, general counsels see their path to the CEO.”

“Legal needs to be an enabler to the business, and to the extent Conga can provide that, that’s how they are an asset. The way in which Conga is intending to evolve with products around CLM, AI, and analytics is one thing we are interested in here, while our other objective is speaking with customers, finding how they use Conga and the extent to which they use it.”