John Guido | April 1, 2022
Almost all administrative tasks can be automated, this is because they often involve the same processes to complete them every time. Focusing on automation is what saves you and your team time, reducing the amount of time they spend on tasks that don’t involve making sales. More efficient internal processes will inevitably lead to more sales, and it will also reduce the risk of human error in documentation required.
Software Platforms are Automating the Channel
Automation has been occurring in the IT Channel industry for decades. Manual and repetitive tasks have been automated to help reduce costs and focus on higher value tasks. Whole new industry segments, like CRM and marketing automation, have been built to help manufacturers and vendors develop and strengthen their interactions with clients. Sometimes the channel and the channel partners were included in that automation, other times it was an afterthought.
Today however, there is a major focus on integrating the channel ecosystem in those platforms, and many platforms have been built that exclusively focus on a wide variety of channel automation segments. Jay McBain’s, Principal Analyst at Forrester, yearly assessment of the Channel Software Stack provides insight into the various categories that support the channel. There are hundreds of software platforms and services firms that have been built to support everything from Partner Relationship Management to Ecosystem Management. As McBain has called out in the past several times, the channel needs automation which will continue to evolve.
“The effective use of technology tools is no longer optional — ecosystems don’t run on spreadsheets!”
Automation continues to be the goal, with a plethora of channel chiefs showing a vested interest in continued automation. As platforms now deliver elements of automation, partners will be able to take advantage of this by getting more control over their business while reaping the benefits of an open ecosystem.
The focus of today’s blog will focus on a largely underserved segment of channel automation: The automation of partner-to-partner collaboration.
Since the path of your channel is changing from being linear to multi-dimensional, automation is crucial for recruitment, attribution, account mapping, enablement and collaboration, API integrations, and ecosystem management.
But then this begs the question of what you can automate, and also what ‘should’ you automate. Automated sales calls, cold calls and even certain email styles are ineffective. As mentioned earlier, they are part of old-fashioned methods and should be discarded.
What you should be automating are these manual processes, to start to drive your channel sales up:
- Data entry
- Data collecting
- Document building
- Scheduling appointments
- Organizing/tracking your email outreach
- Various CRM follow-up reminders and task assignment
A finely tuned automated marketing strategy is essential. You don’t need to automate every step; you just have to automate the right steps. With your channel and the growing number of partners completing each of these manually is having a direct effect upon growth.
P2P Global recently interviewed Rob Spee, SVP of Global Channel & Alliances at Beyond Trust, gaining his insight on key areas of automation that are prioritized and the challenges he has seen thus far:
“We are focusing on a big shift in our strategy as we move from a transactional standpoint to that of a partner ecosystem. With this, we are optimizing the channel and accommodating the partner ecosystem with new partners and motions. Prioritizing the automation of partner business planning and tracking, automating the onboarding of our partners, and automating how we track and manage the broader ecosystem is a big priority.
The biggest automation challenge has been finding the capabilities that are needed and getting them tied together, as they are hard to find in a single system. From a partner perspective, the biggest thing channel partners are asking for is a smooth enablement path along the partner journey. With this, we see the need to shift business models and enablement from just the transactional standpoint to one that embraces the entire customer journey
As time goes on, most channel chiefs will be facing the modernization of their channel strategy and their channel technologies. While it can seem overwhelming, I recommend keeping it simple for the partner to leverage the platforms that can deliver efficiencies through automation. Regardless of the number of tools, we want to keep it looking seamless.”
Distributors can be Masters of Automation
There are multiple benefits for distributors when it comes to automation. Being able to take control of seemingly menial tasks, allowing distribution to become more efficient and quick, and eliminates the possibility of human-error. Automation allows customers to self-service, checking processing and ordering details, all at the click of a button.
P2P Global recently interviewed Chun Lee, VP of Communities at TD SYNNEX, gathering his insight on the traditional and future role of distributors in channel automation:
“As digital is taking over, everybody is beginning to look for self-service; such as inventory reporting, or shipping estimates, which in turn provides more value to the partners.
In automation, data is the most critical thing, being real time and accurate. When we talk about the importance of data, it’s about being proactive and reactive. As more people begin to automate, we see that automation is ultimately about speed, allowing self-service and self-enablement.”.
Automating Partner Collaboration
Partners are continually asking for newer and more effective ways to collaborate. From customer responsiveness to facilitating partnerships to solve for skill gaps, automation is the key to providing a solution to even the most complicated client needs.
Ensuring that your partnering process has little friction will increase the likelihood of consistently utilizing your ecosystem and will help your business scale as you’re able to find partners more efficiently and quickly. As IT skills become more complex, it’s more important than ever to ensure you have a channel of experts to source from when you need to fill a skill gap in order to solve a clients’ need and provide an end solution.
Lee further elaborated on the automation of partner collaboration, explaining “The evolution of the channel has caused the need to figure out how to optimize channel programs to be quick and efficient. Since people are now into solutions, “everybody has to play in the sandbox together” in regard to integrations. You can be both a competitor and a partner at the same time. Collaboration will provide the best solutions.
As we consider delivering value to both our partners and suppliers through our TD SYNNEX communities, under the CommunitySolv umbrella, collaboration is key. The form of collaboration can range from simply comparing notes on strategies, programs, and offerings to actually solving for specific client’s project needs. In the end, the more efficiently we can orchestrate collaboration, everyone wins.”
While partner-to-partner collaboration is common to help solve for skill gaps, there can be many inefficiencies and frictions to any ad hoc approach. For this reason, when considering automating the P2P process, platforms need to address several key steps.
- Customer Responsiveness
- Speed of Execution
- Expertise Discovery
- Trust and Confidence
- Third-party Coordination
- Bench Utilization
- Scaling for Growth
- Multi-vendor Solutions
- Facilitate Partnerships
- Open Communications
Partner-to-Partner platforms like P2P Global can help partners collaborate for a range of needs – from the simplest to solving for complex skill gaps varying from customer to customer. P2P Global offers an open marketplace where partners can self-serve to find complementary partners and be their own ecosystem orchestrators. Likewise, vendors and distributors can use the platform to send out leads and find service delivery talent.
With new processes and new workflows optimized by automation, you will find the increase in business means an increase in partnerships too. To help expand and even automate some aspects of a channel partner’s trusted advisor role, P2P engagements need to be simplified, disciplined, and automated to a point. No longer should a channel partner be manually searching for help – to solve for their collaboration needs. Leveraging an ecosystem approach with a platform that delivers automation will save time and allow for scaling. The P2P Global platform was built to help connect solution providers of all types. In this self-serve marketplace, our members are becoming trusted advisors by leveraging an effective P2P platform to solve for skill gaps.They’re then able to scale their trusted advisor roles and increase their competitiveness – providing even more value to their customers.
Join us at P2P for free and discover how our platform can help increase all aspects of your business. Find the people you need to collaborate, fill the critical skill gaps, find the resources required to expand and make the most of your new automated workflows for 2022.