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The Partner Channel Podcast | Season 2, Episode 20

Tips for a Thriving Partner Program in an Economic Downturn

Show Synopsis

Join host Tori Barlow, VP of Marketing at Allbound, as she talks with Samantha Cartwright, VP of Strategic Alliances at vFunction. They discuss the impacts of the economic downturn on channel and how to scale a program and make the most of what you have.


  • How do channel leaders pivot effectively?
  • What are some low hanging fruit items that channel leaders can address during turbulent times?
  • How can channels thrive during turbulent times?

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The Script

Tori Barlow: Welcome to the Partner Channel podcast, the voice of the Channel. I’m Tori Barlow, VP of Marketing at Allbound. Excited to be here with Samantha Cartwright, VP Strategic Alliances at V function. Welcome, Samantha. We’re excited to have, you.

Samantha Cartwright: Know, happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Tori. Excited about this.

Tori Barlow: We have some good stuff in store, but a little bit about v function for those of you who don’t know. V function is the first and only AI driven platform for architects and developers that intelligently and automatically transforms complex monolithic applications into microservices, restoring engineering velocity and optimizing the benefits of the cloud. With V function, leading companies around the world are accelerating the journey to cloud native architecture and gaining a competitive edge. You guys are headquartered in Palo Alto, California, with offices in Israel. You guys seem to be up to really cool stuff over there.

Samantha Cartwright: Absolutely. So we’re in a very hot space at the moment that’s ever changing. And especially with, I think, kind of what’s going on in the economy. It’s it’s changed a lot for partners and really excited to talk about that with you today.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, we have something really top of mind, I think with not only partners but partner managers and really every person working right now in the economy is how your channel can thrive during an economic downturn. And I think, you know, with what’s going on right now, with the economy, the uncertainty. Channel programs seem to be a really good driving force for any business. So I’m curious, in your mind, is a solid channel program really the secret to preparing for economic uncertainty?

Samantha Cartwright: You know, I absolutely think it is. But I also think it’s it’s how these channel partners and how MSPs really approach it. Right. So when you look at what’s going on in industry right now, especially with the economy, enterprises are actually scaling back their own I.T. hiring, and oftentimes they’re more inclined to use service providers to really fill those gaps in managing and really maintaining their i.t. But it’s also super key to actually build the right programs and services. If you’re an MSSP, it’s really capitalize on the downturn. So just maintaining really that status quo is not really going to bring a whole lot of benefit to an enterprise to begin to outsource more. They may just choose to really keep things as is while scaling back. So I’d say it’s super important to really design out creative services and programs that drive a key benefit for the customers, but allows them to really keep using some of their infrastructure and services needed to innovate for their own products and really scale efficiently during an economic downturn and especially diversifying really that go to market as well.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, you bring up a really good point. I think it’s time for folks to put creative hats on and figure out what is working and put the dollars that they do have in those areas and pockets. And more often than not, through the channel is one of the quickest closed win areas that a company can have and the least expensive. So it makes sense. And when I think about this, most companies and sales orgs will definitely require some sort of shift in focus to become more efficient during this downturn. But how do you channel leaders pivot effectively with keeping the goal in mind?

Samantha Cartwright: Yeah, so I think when these downturns happen, most companies and organizations and size, they look ways to really cut costs and do more with the cash flow that they have while hopefully avoiding headcount. I think we’ve seen really in the past few weeks a lot of these global companies, you’ve seen articles about cutting staff and really scaling back. I think it’s important for MSPs to help guide these enterprise clients where they can more effectively use the funds they have. So instead of the enterprise client having ten people use an example of kind of what we deal with, having ten people maintain a very, very legacy application that’s like rich in technical debt, pivot to an offering to them with a service coupled with automation. So we bring automation to the market that would not only make the application more efficient for your end client, but also more scalable. And pivoting those resources to what I call more meaningful work, like innovating and making processes in the app, more efficient and really being ready to scale even in an economic downturn. Doing more with what you have.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, I think you bring up a really good point and sometimes it’s hard to maybe picture that when you’re doing your day to day or trying to figure out what are the innovative ways. So what’s some low hanging fruit that channel leaders can really think about or address right now?

Samantha Cartwright: Yeah. So what I would call building no brainer services so that are highly differentiated and really quick to deliver, it’s easier said than done, but whenever we work with an SI, it’s coupling our automated technology with their services and it’s a key way to really bring that differentiated offering, you know, using best of breed tools and platforms in the industry. So take the function for instance, we work with a lot of global and regional SI’s and even the cloud providers to automate modernization for these critical apps for their clients. So what typically would have cost these SIs and even the enterprise somewhere around ten X of what they could actually afford? These are not doable projects for them with automation, but using the MSPs and the Sea Network for their expertise really packaged together. So really building these services that complement cloud native technologies using automation and using what these enterprise clients have from a resource perspective, if that makes sense.

Tori Barlow: It does. And you keep mentioning automation, and I think that’s a really interesting point to bring up because I think while the channel or having a partner program, whatever partner type or mix it is, can be helpful during an economic downturn. It seems like the kicker is having that automation piece and where to introduce that. So is that really what you’re recommending of finding those pockets of, hey, we can actually put automation in here or optimize this piece of the channel management? Can you kind of talk a little bit more about that?

Samantha Cartwright: Yeah. I mean, I think traditionally a lot of SIs and MSPs, at least from past experience, are oftentimes afraid to adopt automation because it means taking away from their bottom line, since it’s very much people driven with expertise. But what really we bring to the table is not something competitive with their level of expertise. We’re trying to make them more efficient to build services that have that lasting quality and differentiation to the market. I mean, as you probably know, cloud is everywhere right now and cloud native technologies are really helping these enterprises innovate faster, scale faster. They make their engineering teams more efficient and scalable to build better products, but it doesn’t take away from people and human interaction needed to actually modernize. So I think there’s the modernizing in an automated sense, but there’s also people modernization that I think needs to happen. So with the economic downturn, if teams have had to scale back, I also think it’s important to be training your teams on new things and new technologies to stay relevant in the market and more competitive.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, I think that’s an interesting point and I’m curious too, if I were a partner manager and thinking about how to get ahead of an economic downturn, you know, automation is definitely key, but also marrying the human aspect of it. How do I even bring this to the C-suite of “Hey, automation is is totally going to help our channel thrive during the economic downturn.” How should a partner manager think about getting a business case together or even taking that up to the C-suite to get some automation in place?

Samantha Cartwright: Yeah, look, I think a lot of it is is a time to market story and a time to value story, right? So if you can get to a time to value a lot faster for your partner network to the enterprise clients that you may be targeting, I always think that’s a good thing. But at the end of the day two, what is the ROI on this from a long term perspective? So I think that that always needs to be looked at. I’ll give you an example just in our platform as well. So our platform, we say it’s an automated platform. We take monolithic applications into microservices, but there’s actually an important human element in the platform that actually we need. We need people with skills to help us design out those services based on business impact and based on business need that these specific enterprises have. So I think that there is value in, again, training teams filling that skills gap, but also bringing automation and a level of efficiency needed that I think any C-suite would would kind of welcome. And I think actually even you would probably see that with the platform that your company has as well. It’s bringing automation to the market for for people like me who do manage partners.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, no, you’re exactly right. And I think it’s a good balance of what is the human consistency with the automation piece. And you’re exactly right. I mean, automation is needed. It’s just a matter of figuring out what is your ROI, is it worth your business model and then getting that exact buy in, but also the other departments within the organization. And you know, ending on a good note, I’m curious your perspective on just how partnerships and the channel can thrive during these times.

Samantha Cartwright:  So V function is a startup company. We’re not a massive enterprise in being a channel leader in our space. That is, by the way, a very, very hot space right now, modernizations everywhere. But using the channel as a way to go to market and vast. When I work with partners like an Amazon or an AWS or Google or a regional MSP or a large global SI, they have the reach and bandwidth in people that we just don’t. So using them really as a key thing in go to market for really the entire company and working closely with them to break into large enterprise or small to midsize businesses. To me it’s a force multiplier. It makes it go to market, I think a lot faster if that makes sense.

Tori Barlow: Yeah, it does. And Sam, you and vfunction seem so much bigger than a startup. Thank you to our guests, Samantha VP Strategic Alliances at V function. And thank you to you, the listeners for joining us here at the Partner Channel podcast. If you like what you heard, subscribe to our podcast episodes wherever you like to listen to podcasts.