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Four Partnering Trends Taking Off in 2024


Don’t just see the future, put it to work in your partner program.

partnering-trends-taking-offIn our annual webinar on channel predictions featuring Jay McBain, Chief Analyst – Channels, Partnerships & Ecosystems at Canalys, we discussed four trends impacting how we engage, empower and evolve partner ecosystems. Consider how these trends may impact or improve your partner program.


1. Find (and engage) the influencers.

Jay said, “by year end, Millennials will own most of the budgets in the technology and telco industries.” Having grown up ‘digital first,’ their initial approach is through online channels. They've been surrounded by micro influencers for so long it’s second nature and typically learn about new brands and make purchasing decisions online.

This isn’t news. No, I’m not a Millennial (though I consume a ton of digital media) but I’m in sales and I recognize the need to understand the buying habits of my customers. There's little difference between their behaviors, their psychology, or their buying journey in their consumer and corporate lives. Your customers and your partners are no different.

Embracing influencers as an integral component of the buying journey allows you to reach your audience in a seamless way. Try to identify the sites they read, the podcasts they listen to and the events they attend, then enroll micro influencers within the buyer’s sphere. Jay said, “every channel professional should know the 1,000 watering holes and the 100 people that influence your buyer.”

Watch: Annual Partner Predictions with Jay & Diane


2. Use Artificial Intelligence to support partners.

AI is going to be huge for partner programs in the next 3-5 years. It will be implemented in the processes, the workflows and the business logic technology we use. Generative AI has already started to show up in partner automation solutions to create emails, landing pages, marketing campaigns, and other user content. In fact, I might have used AI to write this blog! (I didn’t, but you’ll have to take my word for it.)

We’re seeing AI support to-, through- and with-partner marketing solutions from driving increased personalization to creating unique content. Jay said, “next up, we will see AI deployed to drive partner loyalty.” Partner automation solutions will be able to customize incentives to motivate partners at an individual level.

But not everyone is motivated by the same things. What does that individual partner, or micro-influencer care about? If used correctly, the AI behind your incentive solution will know and customize programs and communications specifically for each partner. Find out where AI is being created in the systems you use and take the time to put it work.


3. Invest in the technology stack.

Jay-McBain-120Data will rule the partner ecosystem world in 2024. (If you’ve ever watched our webinars, you know I love data.) Gone are the days of strong relationships being enough to justify the investments in a partner ecosystem. Executive management wants data to prove partner performance and ROI. That data comes from partner automation solutions. Jay said, “there are over 200 companies creating automation solutions to support the hundreds of elements in a vendor partner program. Leveraging the data for executive reports and the benefits of AI requires a commitment to integrations we haven’t yet be forced to undertake.”

Alongside a vendor demand for data-backed performance insights, partners expect a better digital experience (and rightly so). Solution providers are no exception to the changing demographics of the workforce and are increasingly dominated by digitally native workers like I mentioned earlier. [Book a free Partner Digital Experience check here.]

Combine your need for better data and partner expectations of a better digital experience to justify an investment in partner automation solutions that provide high levels of personalization, tailored content and usability. And vendor consolidation isn’t always the way to go. Sometimes you need a specific tool to accomplish a specific job so prioritize your needs for better data and partner experience over working with one multi-tool.


4. Don’t miss out on marketplaces.

Marketplaces are just another channel to reach end-users. They’re not the devil. Many partnering people seem to think marketplaces are the competition and we as ‘ecosystem experts’ should be against them. Jay said, “if I were a vendor and 20% of my customers wanted to buy via marketplaces, or even just 50 customers, I should provide a frictionless environment for however they want to exchange money for my product. That’s my job as somebody who owns go-to-market and routes-to-market.” That's channels of distribution.

Crowdstrike, Splunk, Palo Alto Networks, and Snowflake have all announced they have reached a billion dollars in sales through one single marketplace: AWS. That doesn’t include the other four large marketplaces and the 100 smaller, specialized ones. If you haven’t already immersed yourself in marketplaces, 2024 is the year to dig in. Don’t let this growing channel trend (or the money being spent there) pass you by.

Diane-Krakora-soft-120Today’s partnering trends are tomorrow’s best practices. If you’re struggling to get on board with changes or need advice on how to implement new strategies, contact me, I’m happy to help.

Diane Krakora is CEO of PartnerPath with over two decades of experience defining the best practices and frameworks around how to develop and manage partnerships.


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Topics: Industry Perspective

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