Exclusive Interview: CA Technologies on their new partner program
CA technologies are a channel-focused software vendor, and that was evident when they unveiled the changes to their global partner program in August, adding two new 'Global' and 'Focus' partner tiers.
We had a chat to Kevin Van Gils, CA Technologies local head of partners, to discuss how the program has been changed and what the benefits are for partners.
What are the major changes for the new partner program?
The relaunched program is called the Advantage Partner Program, and the key changes that we have made have been primarily to benefit our partners. First and foremost we’ve added two additional tiers, so our partners were initially sorted into two areas which were Member Advanced and Premier, whereas now we’ve also included Focus and Global as two extra tiers.
The second major change that we’ve essentially brought about is to refocus the partner program to be on four key things. The first is we've increased the opportunity to profit, so it’s all about profitability, and the second thing is making it more simple and clearer to understand the incentives of the program.
Third, we’ve put some effort into protection regarding opportunity pursuits for our partners, that’s whether they were pursuing opportunities with other partners or in fact working on an opportunity in a more direct manner, we offer them a bit of protection there. Finally, we’re offering differentiated awards for partners, so they can choose essentially the different rewards that they get from the program as well.
What incentives are going to be available for partners out of this new arrangement?
Yeah, so again we’ve kept it really simple. With each tier we have some discount structures, so the higher up into the tiers you go, the better the discount structures are. In addition to that, we have marketing development funds that also increase in reward as you go up the tiers, and we also have rebates and business development funds as well. So those are really the incentives that are baked into the partner program.
What has the response been from partners so far?
It’s been excellent, we have had a number of partners that have moved from some of the lower tiers into the higher tiers this year, and we’ve had a really positive response from them. For example, Revolution IT have been elevated to focus partner this year, and the feedback from them is they’re really appreciating the higher margins of profit and the increased rewards that they are receiving from that higher tier.
Why was the restructure necessary? What was the previous program not accomplishing?
The previous arrangement was successful in that our partners were still reaping rewards out of it, and the program has been running for a number of years successfully so it’s really more of a tweak than a complete overhaul. However, what we did find last year was that we had a structure that got a little bit over-complicated at times.
We were trying to motivate partners to sell particular software into particular segments of the market, and then rewarding them for that. What we found with that model was that whilst it was rewarding to the partners who then sold it to those particular segments, it was a little difficult to understand what they would be getting as a consequence of that activity.
So this year we really just removed all of that complexity and it was about being very clear on the understanding of what the partners will get if they work with us, rather than over-complicating it too much. We want to make sure that partners are always understanding what they’re going to get out of each transaction with us.
What are you looking for from partners in terms of skills and proficiencies?
We have been - and always will be - very strategic about the skillet that our partners bring to the table. It’s all about ensuring we have the right partnerships, and the right technologies to help our partners and their customers achieve success. We have an expectation - as with many other programs - that our partners in the higher tiers have more certification and are more highly specialised.
Going back to Revolution IT as an example, they focus heavily on our focus project and portfolio management solution, and they have amazing skills in that space and are completely self-sufficient. They can really help customers achieve outcomes with our software, based on the fact they’ve got all the right certification and they’ve done a number of successful implementations, and that’s really what it’s all about.
Can you just expand a little bit on the significance of the new Global and Focus tiers?
So for Global, the benefits that we’re seeing in A/NZ for that new tier is that we can now offer some additional benefits to the local instances of those global partners. So it’s made us more relevant with those partners in-country and just means that we can really reward the global partners for the activities that they’re undertaking in each specific region.
From a focus perspective, this is a tier that we have been building over the last 12 -18 months, and it’s really about building strategic partnerships. It goes beyond the partner program and actually starts with executive level alignments between us and the partner and an agreed go-to-market strategy. It’s really a deep relationship with that partner, where we are very relevant to each other's businesses.
Focus is by invitation only, and we have very few of them in the region, but we spend a lot of time with those focus partners to really address the best way to go-to-market together.
How will the partner program help CA technologies become a stronger company?
We recognise at CA that the channel is incredibly important. It’s important for us to scale and continue to grow our revenues, and it’s important because ultimately we are a software company, and we rely very heavily on the channel to take our software and turn that into a valuable asset for customers.
With this new program, we’re rewarding our partners and making even more worthwhile to partner with us. It’s quite essential for us to be able to build this ecosystem because customers are demanding all sorts of different ways to consume software and we need to be able to meet that demand. So the partners are important to help us deliver our software in the ways that customers want to consume it.