The rise in a globally dispersed workforce and new work-from-home requirements are placing extraordinary pressure on organisations’ networks. At the same time, COVID-19 has accelerated Digital Transformation across many industries, with a shift towards hybrid and multi-cloud to service both customers and employees in this new environment. Chris Martin, Channel Leader, EMEA and SAARC, A10 Networks, discusses how the company is positioning channel partners for growth in a highly competitive market landscape.
The rise in a globally dispersed workforce and new work-from-home requirements are placing extraordinary pressure on organisations’ networks. At the same time, COVID-19 has accelerated Digital Transformation across many industries, with a shift towards hybrid and multi-cloud to service both customers and employees in this new environment.
These changes further underline the importance of operational efficiency, management, visibility and security for organisations. This is where A10 Networks and its channel partners can ensure customers’ data centre applications and networks remain available, resilient and secure in the months ahead.
With 100% of our business transacted through channel partners in EMEA, partners are central to A10 Networks’ plans. The channel is incredibly important to us and the pandemic has not affected our commitment nor our investment in the channel. In fact, we have championed the channel in 2020, having made huge investments in our partner ecosystem and our Affinity Partner Programme over the last year or so. As such, we have focused on three key areas: education, engagement and deal registration, and we currently have underway five key channel initiatives which include developing our distribution relationships, deal registration, partner ecosystem, organic leads and channel enablement.
Having said this, we are much more focused on certain key vertical sectors and as such we are looking to work with partners who have specialist vertical market capabilities. In effect, we are looking to identify the right partners, addressing the right gap in the right vertical market.
Training and certification
Training is key to this enablement and A10 Networks is passionate about helping our partners obtain the technical certifications needed to help their customers navigate this new environment. We know it isn’t easy for a partner to focus on their own business, while ensuring their customers’ operations remain up and running. Therefore, we want to ensure that our partners are up-to-date on their certifications, to continue to be a trusted advisor to their customers.
We launched new sales and technical training certifications this year, free of charge and aligned with our new branding and latest products and solutions. For example, we now have Sales Associate Training and Technical Associate for Service Providers Training. However, when it comes to partnering, we know one-size-doesn’t-fit-all. As mentioned earlier, we work with partners to understand their vertical expertise, their technical abilities and their strengths. We then formulate a joint business plan and establish KPIs so together we can best address customers’ needs.
Distribution is key to growth
Distribution is a part of this strategy – which is why we are working more closely with our distributor partners than we ever have before. We have doubled our distributor presence across our territories because we believe that partners need a choice. We have onboarded 11 new distributors in the 18 months from mid-2019 to December 2020 in EMEA and SAARC.
Whether the distributor is a dedicated, niche player or one with huge scale and resources, they all deliver their own value. We have established KPIs for distribution around recruiting partners, net new revenue, certification and lead generation. We are also working together with distribution on recruiting those quality partners I spoke about.
Another increased area of focus is deal registration. We are actively encouraging our partners to register leads in line with our business growth and the increasingly competitive business landscape.
Recognising partners and individuals who go above and beyond
We have also created a new channel awards programme, known as Elevate. This is because we recognise that certain individuals and companies within our channel community go above and beyond to drive business with A10 and we wanted to reward their hard efforts. This year, we will recognise both partners and individuals and categories for 2020 nominations including aspects such as the best financial performance, the best marketing campaign, the partners that provides the best technical support as well as individual nominations such as the best performing sales, technical and marketing person. Any member of the A10 channel community is eligible within EMEA and SAARC.
Likewise, we recognise that technical teams don’t always get rewarded for their contributions so we have created our ‘Tech Packs’ which provide a whole range of goodies that we are giving away to those techies who successfully complete certain certification levels.
Path to Platinum
Finally, we have created an initiative called Path to Platinum. This new programme is designed to accelerate our partners’ growth and enable Bronze and Gold partners to achieve the highest accreditation in the A10 Networks Affinity Partner Programme. Importantly, we want to focus on certification, specialisation and commitment rather than solely judging a partner based on traditional run-rate revenue targets. If there is a partner that we are interested in developing a relationship with, we will talk about the level of discount we can offer, the support and how to build that relationship. With buy-in from both sides, we will create a bespoke plan to go out and win business together.
With the channel front and centre, we are expanding rapidly and winning new customers. These are businesses that have apps at the heart of their business, like Uber. Another is food delivery service takeaway.com, which needed to continue to service customers, despite the huge demand placed on their networks during COVID-19 enforced lockdowns.
Last year has been one of unprecedented momentum for our partners. Despite being faced with much uncertainty this year, we know one thing for sure: A10 Networks will continue to expand and drive new business by putting the right incentives in place that deliver profitable and predictable business to our channel partners.
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