Partner Sales Acceleration Blog | Allbound

The Allbound Podcast: Create an Ecosystem; Don't Become a Commodity

Written by Jen Spencer | March 15, 2017

Tim Harmon, Managing Director for Nuvello, joins me, Jen Spencer to discuss creating a channel ecosystem, the right time to start building a channel program and more on this episode of The Allbound Podcast.


Most people in the channel space know you as being a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Earlier this year, you announced that you've launched an analyst consulting firm called Nuvello. This is really exciting for us in the channel technology space.

It is. I left Forrester in January and I am building Nuvello, which is essentially a new type of analyst consulting community and a new type of analyst consulting network really focused on channels. The reason I use the term network is because I don't profess to do everything that's knowingly in the Nuvello vision or plan all by my lonesome. There are a plethora of very good and sharp independent channel consultants across the globe, and the intention is to bring them into the Nuvello network and to, in essence, create a more concerted analyst and consulting capability for both the chan-tech vendors that are attempting to support the primary target in our channel professionals.

I also use the term community. The tech vendors themselves are going to have a lot of involvement in Nuvello. I have believed for a long time myself that a lot of tech vendors create a wealth of very good, educational content. I saw what you guys published in the last couple of weeks in terms of your own study and benchmark. I think that's a great example. We want to source tech vendors' content to You could consider, Jen, yourself, as another channel for your content, where Nuvello will become the ultimate go-to resource for channel professionals and practitioners, for knowledge, tools, and benchmarks.

  "Automation is great. Digital transformation is great. But channel partners have to maintain that personal relationship" #AllboundPodcast


There's a lot of talk in the SaaS industry about customer success evolving beyond just client services or support. Share a little bit about where you think channel sales and customer success either have been or need to intersect - today and then moving forward into the future.

There's starting to be a slight little backlash in the managed services provider segment of the channel industry. Customers are saying, "You know, we had a three-year contract with you and we never saw you. You may have done a good job but there's someone else that's come along with greater economies at scale who can do the same, apply the same service at a lower price." And you drive yourself into a commodity type of a business environment, which is where I think most SaaS vendors and most channel partners don't want to be.

So, I think channel partners have a vital role in what their original purpose was. And one of the original purposes was to reach into segments of the market. I'm talking about physical live face-to-face reach in the segments of the market that a tech vendor perhaps did not. Automation is great. Digital transformation is great. But I think channel partners have to maintain that personal relationship and that full life cycle enablement of technology solutions from building the business case to driving adoption that is ultimately what's going to make the difference between customer success or failure.


  "Most solutions today going forward are going to be ecosystem-delivered and supported solutions" - @timeharmon #AllboundPodcast #SaaS

The key I see there is continual collaboration between the vendor or the supplier and those partners. Partners have face time with customers, ensuring that that knowledge is transferred from the partner back up to the supplier. Typically, when we talk about knowledge transfer challenges, we tend to be a little short-sighted and think about it only from the perspective of “How do I get all of this information about my product to my partners?” versus also looking at “How do I get feedback and consumption information from customers via partners back up to the supplier who's creating the product?”

I think that's a key point, Jen. Most solutions today going forward are going to be ecosystem-delivered and supported solutions, right? You turn back the calendar five years and there was this great fear that cloud software as a service was going to disintermediate the intermediaries. Who needs the channel partner? But that's turned out not to be the case. The solutions are so involved and have so many tentacles even beyond the software aspect itself that you need to have all of your ecosystem forces aligned so that it appears to be an ecosystem of one entity even though it's really not. And that's, I think, where technology can really benefit. It's absolutely required to provide one aligned phase to the customer where multiple ecosystem parties are actually involved in delivering value to the customer.


"The reality is that most companies wait too late to start building their channel strategy and their channel programs" - #AllboundPodcast


To learn more about creating a channel ecosystem, the right time to start building a channel program and more, tune in to episode 19 of The Allbound Podcast.