It’s never been more important for companies to prioritize and best leverage their partner ecosystem than it will be in 2023. To do this, companies will need to optimize their partner experience and shift their focus to multi-party solutions built on joint needs with an emphasis on high-value alliances. To improve efficiency and accelerate partner success, companies will continue to leverage automation and invest in the skills and leadership development of their people.

We asked our Team and a few Advisory Board members, Charles Hannaford, Chief of Staff at SES Satellites, Jasmina Muller, Vice President of Global Channel Sales at ScienceLogic, Nancy Reynolds, Vice President of Channel Sales, Alliances and Global Partner Programs, and  Heather Tenuto, CRO at Zift Solution to weigh in. Their responses follow:

1. There will be an increase of ecosystems at the vendor level. 

In order for partners to be successful, they will need to have relationships and collaborate with multiple vendors to provide a complete solution to their customers. From a partner perspective, when the vendors they work with have relationships that ensure interoperability and a shared responsibility in client success, the partner’s priority in providing an excellent customer experience is a reality. Vendors have a responsibility to ensure, verify and actively support product and solution compatibility so the partners aren’t left in the middle with vendors pointing fingers at each other. When vendors collaborate and have an ecosystem of interoperability, they enable the channel to deliver a better customer experience and enjoy client loyalty. -Jessica Baker, Chief Program Officer at AchieveUnite

2. Companies will prioritize their employee experience.

With this multi-generational workforce never before have employers needed to provide an employee experience more. This experience must attract, retain and develop collaboration. Similarly to the way we think about Customer Experience companies need to be prioritizing creative ways to make it easy for all generations, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers, to learn how to thrive in this ever changing world. Whatever generation, trust is essential as success is reliant upon collaboration whether it’s with colleagues, customers, or partners. Employers need to understand and respond to this by recognizing the differing characteristics across the generations and educate their workforce on how to develop trusted relationships with one another to enable collaboration and innovation. -Fiona Coughlan, Education Lead at AchieveUnite

3. Companies that prioritize investments in their channel programs will achieve partnering success.

Many companies, specifically cyber security companies, have spent years focused on their software and technology, protecting their IP. In 2023, many of these companies are prioritizing their budgets and focus to begin building a partner program and/or investing in their partners. -Carmen Sorice, Senior Advisor at AchieveUnite

4. Vendors will emphasize long-term value in their partner business propositions. 

The competition for partner mindshare will continue to increase, putting pressure on vendors to differentiate their partner programs. AchieveUnite research has found that partners have more choices than ever when it comes to working with vendors, and most are focusing more on strategic vendor relationships.  They seek vendors that provide investments, incentives and enablement activities that drive partner solutions, services, competencies, and practices.This approach minimizes the time partners must spend on tactical activities with a vendor and frees up time to develop a portfolio and practice that differentiates their business.   The result is a long-term relationship that creates a flywheel of new business opportunities for partners and vendors. -Mark Jones, Senior Channel Consultant at AchieveUnite

5. Vendors will need to prioritize their partner’s business.

Building a successful channel program takes time but if you have the right ecosystem of partners, listen to the feedback they provide, utilize the right tools along with the simplicity of doing business with you, you’re on track for success! We are seeing more and more partners work with suppliers/vendors that value the partners insight and feedback on what customers are requiring. It’s the vendors responsibility to be part of the partner’s business and to build a portal and offer resources that are an extension of their business. -Jasmina Muller, Vice President of Global Channel Sales

6. Accelerated time to market will be a top business initiative

Due to continued technology solution complexity, product proliferation, and talent shortage, partners will need to develop and expand their service offerings for customers. Comprehensive partner solutions and services will enable a faster time to market for partners and will differentiate them in the market. Vendors and Cloud Providers that focus on market acceleration will continue to do so through a robust global partner ecosystem. -Nancy Reynolds, Vice President of Channel Sales, Alliances and Global Partner Programs

7. Customer experience will be a key part of every service offering.

Customers will be looking for a greater level of service from their partners and the partners will need to differentiate their offerings based on the service provided, less the technology that enables those services. Customer intimacy and centricity are key parts to this service offering. -Charles Hannaford, Chief of Staff at SES Satellites

8. Partner profitability takes center stage.

Partners are becoming more savvy in controlling their own destiny.  Adding service-led revenue streams and recurring revenue models to their income stream cause them to double down on certain vendors and solutions where they are uber profitable. Partners can no longer survive on the shrinking product margins from vendors. For partners to be as profitable as possible, they need to commit and lean in even more with fewer vendors and have resources (like professional services, customer success, managed services) for customers that also require customers to become more attached to them. -Jessica Baker, Chief Program Officer at AchieveUnite

9. Vendors will seek more effective ways to measure Technology Alliance leverage. 

As partner ecosystems continue to expand and diversify technology vendors are increasingly looking for more accurate and actionable data to capture revenue leverage stemming from non-reseller Technology-based alliances. They will use this data for a variety of reasons, including reporting progress for the Alliance against jointly created goals, to inform go-to-market investments, to drive decisions around the validity of tighter and/or deeper integration between the vendor and the Alliance partner, and to assign credit to the appropriate team members responsible for the growth and development of these partnerships. We have found that this data can be tracked and reported within leading CRM systems as long as the vendor applies the proper amount of resource, focus, commitment and governance around both the gathering of this data and the downstream utilization of it. –Jim Ritchings, Senior Advisor at AchieveUnite

10. Partners are taking their tech stacks to new heights. 

 As partners become a larger part of the shared customer journey, we’re seeing them become interested in improving their own internal processes–and the tools that manage them. With increased investment into CRM and marketing automation, there is corresponding demand for vendor-supplied tools that can integrate with the applications that run partners’ businesses. -Heather Tenuto, CRO at Zift Solutions

11. There will be an increased demand for leadership development. 

Leaders are the most valuable asset and most significant leverage point for the success of any organization. In the coming year, well-prepared leaders will continue to create stability through chaos, demonstrate resilience through uncertainty, create agile teams that can navigate change, and retain high potential talent. As in the past, organizations that systematically develop and support their leaders will reap many tangible short- and long-term rewards. More importantly, in 2023, leadership development will be seen as a differentiator and the organizations that commit to this investment will become employers of choice in a highly competitive environment.  -Gail Doerr, Leadership Development Practice Leader at AchieveUnite


We would love to hear from you. What trends are you anticipating in 2023?