John Guido | June 27th, 2023
In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, technology plays a pivotal role in driving business growth and innovation. To stay competitive, companies need to establish strong relationships with top technology providers. Building a community of these providers can yield numerous benefits, from collaboration and knowledge sharing to enhanced customer experiences and increased business opportunities.
Members of communities seek opportunities to conduct purposeful networking and collaboration. The space for curated on-line communities is growing rapidly. At the same time, increased demand for these on-line communities coincides with the increasing use of social media and digital platforms.
In this blog, we will explore the importance of building a community of top technology providers and discuss strategies for nurturing and growing such a community.
Jay McBain, a Chief Analyst at Canalys, has discussed the importance of communities in the context of technology and channel marketing. He has shared insights on how communities can play a significant role in driving business growth and collaboration within the technology industry.
Community marketing has emerged as a powerful approach in the technology industry. It goes beyond traditional channel marketing by focusing on building communities of like-minded technology providers, fostering collaboration, and driving collective growth. By tapping into the power of community marketing, businesses can leverage the collective knowledge, resources, and expertise of top technology providers to drive innovation, deliver superior solutions, and meet customer needs more effectively.
Building a community of top technology providers offers several valuable advantages. Firstly, it facilitates collaboration and knowledge sharing. When technology providers come together, they can exchange insights, best practices, and emerging trends, fostering innovation and enhancing their individual capabilities. Additionally, such a community provides access to a diverse range of expertise and resources, enabling members to address complex challenges and deliver comprehensive solutions to clients. This collaborative approach also helps establish trust and credibility among customers, who can rely on the collective expertise of the community.
“By connecting with others, IT professionals can learn from each other, share knowledge and resources, and collaborate on projects. Additionally, associations often hold events and conferences where members can meet and network with other professionals from around the world” – Jay McBain
How to Build Your Community
To build a thriving community of top technology providers, it is essential to adopt effective strategies. Here are some key approaches to consider:
- Foster open communication channels: Establish a platform that encourages open dialogue and seamless communication among community members. This could include dedicated forums, online communities, or collaboration tools that facilitate real-time interactions and knowledge exchange.
- Encourage active participation and engagement: Create an environment that motivates technology providers to actively participate in community activities. Encourage them to share their experiences, insights, and challenges, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration.
- Organize events, webinars, or conferences: Arrange regular events, webinars, or conferences that bring together community members. These gatherings provide valuable networking opportunities, facilitate face-to-face interactions, and allow for in-depth discussions on emerging technologies and industry trends.
- Offer exclusive benefits and incentives: Provide members with exclusive benefits, incentives, or rewards for their active participation and contributions to the community. This could include early access to new technologies, discounts on products or services, or recognition for their achievements within the community.
- Provide a platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange: Establish a central platform where members can collaborate on joint projects, share resources, and exchange industry-specific knowledge. This could be a dedicated online portal, a shared workspace, or a collaborative project management tool.
IT Channel Communities
People need community to survive, and as new technologies are constantly introduced, technology providers do, too. In any strong community, members get what they need and give what they are able. We know that it’s no longer possible for solution providers to meet the varied and specific needs of each client.
Another place people find professional communities online is LinkedIn. The social media site for professionals offers about 340,000 joinable groups. These LinkedIn Groups include specialized channel groups (9,100), IT groups (16,000) and sales groups (47,000).
These groups are excellent for networking and “initial connections.” The fastest-growing IT channel communities can vary depending on the region, industry focus, or specific technology domains. However, some notable examples of growing communities in the IT channel include:
- Managed Service Providers (MSPs) Communities: MSP communities are experiencing rapid growth as more businesses rely on managed services for their IT needs. These communities bring together MSPs, technology vendors, and industry experts to share insights, best practices, and business strategies related to delivering managed services.
- Value-Added Reseller (VAR) Communities: VAR communities focus on the distribution and integration of technology solutions. They serve as platforms for VARs to connect with technology vendors, share market trends, discuss product portfolios, and explore partnership opportunities.
- Cloud Service Provider (CSP) Communities: With the increasing adoption of cloud computing, CSP communities have emerged as hubs for cloud service providers, consultants, and vendors. These communities provide a space for knowledge sharing, discussing cloud deployment models, addressing security concerns, and exploring cloud-based business opportunities.
- Industry-specific Communities: Many IT channel communities cater to specific industries, such as healthcare, finance, retail, or manufacturing. These communities bring together technology providers and industry experts who specialize in delivering tailored solutions and addressing industry-specific challenges.
- Emerging Technology Communities: Communities focused on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, or cybersecurity are also witnessing significant growth. These communities foster collaboration, explore use cases, and share insights on the latest developments in these fast-evolving technology domains.
It’s important to note that the fastest-growing communities can evolve over time, and new communities may emerge based on emerging trends, technologies, or industry demands. Staying connected with industry associations, attending relevant conferences, and actively participating in online communities can help identify and join the fastest-growing IT channel communities in your specific area of interest.
Technology Vendor Perspective
Technology vendors that include channel partners as part of their route-to-market have already established a natural community of like-minded solution providers that are skilled in their solution offerings. Enabling their partners to further align with their growth strategies is critical. This requires continued channel program enhancements (and simplification) while recognizing the value of higher-level skills.
There will always be a range of skills across a partner ecosystem. Some may be considered service delivery providers, others may be more transactional while still others will influence but not take part in the transaction. While many of these firms reward their highest skilled partners through program incentives, it is important to enable all partners to solve for their client needs. Importantly, enabling P2P engagements between services delivery providers and transactional partners can be a key means to help solve for skill gaps. Similarly, those vendors with professional services organizations need to provide easy access to their partners.
To gain valuable insights from a supplier’s point of view, we turned to Jeff Mattan, VP Global Channel Programs and Operations at BeyondTrust. With over 20 years of experience in partner program management, Jeff and his team oversee the BeyondTrust Global Partner Program, PartnerTrust, where they focus on empowering their partner ecosystem through effective tools and incentives.
Recognizing the need to adapt to an ecosystem-driven world, we revamped our partner program. We introduced new tracks catering to Systems Integrators, Managed Service Provider and Service Delivery Partners. Emphasizing partner input, we established a Partner Advisory Board, implemented quarterly partner surveys, and initiated regular partner interviews. These efforts enabled us to set priorities for enhancing enablement, streamlining processes, and fostering engagement among partners.
Communities for Enhanced Client Value
Partners increasingly seek better collaboration opportunities to deliver desired outcomes to customers. By teaming up with service delivery partners, transacting partners can provide added value through faster implementation. Leveraging analytics and integrations within the PartnerTrust ecosystem, partners optimize customers’ environments, ensuring measurable value from their investments. Our investment in the partner community aims to meet the value and performance expectations of both customers and partners.
Leveraging Highly Skilled Partners
To enhance service delivery, we expanded our Partner team, specifically focusing on service delivery partners. Partner Success and Service Delivery Account Managers work together to empower service delivery partners, driving revenue-generating projects. Through a meticulous process, top-tier service delivery partners are qualified to provide services on behalf of BeyondTrust. Regular measurement of Net Promoter Score (NPS) ensures their high performance. We also collaborate with partners to align their solutions with our SKUs, facilitating seamless engagement with customers.
Tools and Enablement
Each partner track in the PartnerTrust Partner Program has specific enablement requirements and tools, including training, NFR/ demo licenses, and business planning tools. Based on partner feedback, we offer expanded technical training options, like BeyondTech training events, to foster collaboration between partners, BeyondTrust tech experts, and Professional Services personnel. Service-delivering partners access BeyondTrust’s expertise through co-delivery programs. Our focus remains on expanding and optimizing these offerings for each partner track, while promoting increased partner-to-partner engagement.
By adopting a holistic approach to partner ecosystem management, BeyondTrust continues to empower partners, amplify customer value, and drive mutual success.
P2P Global: Community-as-a-Service
While P2P Global is a platform to help technology solution providers effectively collaborate across the IT ecosystem, it is also a community based on common interests, industries, and technology vendors providing a space for like-minded members to collaborate purposefully and solve for skill gaps.
Being part of a technology community like P2P Global’s open ecosystem helps members to increase their relevance and revenue by expanding capacity and reach. Our members have skills in key technology categories, with more specialized expertise within each category:
- Application Development
- Business Applications
P2P Global is in high demand from solution providers that recognize the importance of building and scaling partnerships. They are increasingly turning to curated community platforms as a way to engage to find others and/or be found. For P2P Global, this has led to greater emphasis on creating authentic and meaningful connections between members and new use cases based on suppliers and/or distributors directed ecosystem initiative.
For these reasons, consider P2P Global as a Community-as-a-Service (CaaS) platform that provides the channel ecosystem with a wide range of benefits. Interactions within communities can bring numerous benefits, enhancing collaboration, knowledge sharing, and overall community growth.
P2P Global is itself a growing community of technology solution providers. While members are sure to find other members that share their interests and values, the purpose of P2P is to facilitate relationships that solve skill gaps. Our members know that individual companies can be limited in their ability to meet all the needs of the modern technology client.
Here are some key benefits of P2P interactions in communities:
P2P interactions facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise among community members. Individuals can share their experiences, insights, and best practices, allowing others to learn from their successes and challenges. This collective wisdom strengthens the knowledge base of the entire community and accelerates individual and collective growth.
Problem Solving and Support
Our platform enables community members to seek help, advice, and solutions to their problems. By tapping into the collective expertise of the community, individuals can find guidance, innovative approaches, and alternative perspectives to address complex challenges. This support network fosters collaboration and empowers members to overcome obstacles more effectively.
Networking and Collaboration
P2P interactions create opportunities for networking and collaboration within the community. Individuals can connect with like-minded professionals, potential partners, or even mentors, forming valuable relationships that can lead to joint projects, business partnerships, or career advancements. Collaborative initiatives can leverage diverse skills and resources, driving innovation and generating mutually beneficial outcomes.
Continuous Learning and Development
We promote continuous learning and personal development. By engaging in discussions, attending webinars or workshops, training courses, and participating in knowledge-sharing activities, community members can stay updated on emerging trends, industry insights, and new technologies. This exposure enhances their professional skills, keeps them at the forefront of industry advancements, and helps them adapt to changing market dynamics.
Innovation and Co-Creation
Our platform fosters a fertile ground for innovation and co-creation. By bringing together diverse perspectives and experiences, communities can generate new ideas, explore unconventional approaches, and drive collaborative innovation. The collective intelligence of the community can lead to breakthrough solutions, driving competitive advantage and industry advancement.
In summary, P2P interactions within communities enable knowledge exchange, problem-solving, collaboration, continuous learning, and innovation. These benefits collectively contribute to the growth, engagement, and success of the community and its individual members.