Lack of clear insight into partner and program performance is often a major challenge for technology companies. Many technology companies generate 40 to 90 percent of company revenues* through their channel partners, but the visibility needed for making data-driven decisions to increase indirect sales and improve channel investment ROI is lacking.
Ready, set – but do we know what we are doing?
While every channel chief** knows that sound channel reporting and meaningful analytic insights are vital to their organization, they often face serious challenges in accomplishing their channel analytics objectives:
1.Incomplete and disparate sources of data - lacking a single source of truth
Data often resides in many different silos. Distributor sell-in and sell-out data may be collected via third party Channel Data Management (CDM) providers, such as Zyme. The company’s (CRM) software may contain partner profile data, deal registration data, and revenues, but may lack specific information regarding incentive program participation and performance. Finance, sales, and channel marketing organizations may maintain their own disparate sets of channel related data (usually on spreadsheets). Often there is little discipline in data and analytics governance, resulting in dirty data and inaccurate reporting (“garbage in, garbage out”).
2.Lack of standardized channel performance KPIs and measurement
Different functions within the organization (business units, channel marketing, regions, sales, marketing, finance, etc.) not only maintain their own sets of channel related data but use different KPIs to measure performance. Without a set of company-wide agreed upon KPIs and uniform reporting it is impossible to produce actionable insights and practice true data driven management on a global scale.
3.Lack of a company-wide standardized reporting and analytics platform
Outdated reporting tools: many technology companies still use Excel spreadsheets as their primary reporting tool. While the larger companies have adopted analytics platforms such as Tableau, QlikView, or SAP HANA, not every function in the organization may have been standardized on the same platform. Often the analytics platform comes under the purview and management of the IT department or a designated Business Intelligence (BI) function with a staff of corporate data analysts. These departments have limited channel insight and the company’s channel organization may not have access to the analytics platform and BI resources, or their priorities are not addressed in a timely manner.
4.Lack of actionable insights and data driven management
If there is a company-wide channel reporting and analytics platform in place and that channel related reporting and analytics are easily accessible, there is often a tendency to report for the sake of reporting. All stakeholders in an organization are asked “what they would like to see” and reporting and analytics can turn into a “wouldn’t it be nice if we could report on such and such.” This approach often results in a myriad of data points being made available. The consumers of the data suffer from data overload while still lacking actionable insights with which to make meaningful decisions focused on increasing revenues and optimizing channel investments.
The development of sound channel analytics practices requires a significant investment in time and budget. Try employing a phased approach that allows your channel organization to evolve its data-driven channel management decision making process from operational metrics reporting to the more sophisticated analytics insights while maintaining a steady focus on:
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* Tirmandi M. (2015) .4 Ways to run a tech partner program that builds loyalty, reduces churn and boosts revenue. Retrieved from: https://www.visioncritical.com/tech-partner-intelligence/.
** Whiting R. (2016). Channel chiefs: The 50 most influential. Retrieved from: http://www.crn.com/slide-shows/channel-programs/300079737/2016-channel-chiefs-the-50-most-influential.htm.
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