Managing the Relationship
Sandy Hamilton, executive vice president of business development at Denver-based NewsGator Technologies, said he certainly sees it that way. He also said he hopes to build business at his 40-person company through a channel partnership program that NewsGator recently started.NewsGator launched its Global Partner Program in November. Hamilton said he sees it as a way to increase the reach of his company and help take advantage of increasing demand for enterprise-level RSS services. Even prior to establishing an official program, NewsGator found ways to increase business this way, especially with content vendors, which have bundled premium content packages with NewsGator RSS technology solutions. Last May, for example, NewsGator announced an agreement with New York-based premium content vendor Factiva to provide Factiva subscribers with access to premium content using either NewsGator online or the NewsGator Microsoft Outlook RSS reader at no additional charge. According to J.B. Holsten, NewsGator president and CEO, his company saw this as a way to reach a logical market segment: workers using premium content. Factiva CEO and President Clare Hart said her company saw it as a way to provide customers with the latest technology without having to develop this technology itself. How do you manage the relationship? the success of any partner relationship depends to a great extent on how well it is managed, how much attention gets paid to the partner company and how the technology provider deals with partner problems before they get out of control. If, in essence, the partner company is truly an extension of the organization, as Calhoun defines it, then it is in the interest of the technology provider to make sure it manages these relationships carefully. Calhoun also stressed that the parties in the partnership have to communicate with one another, and that means more than talking when a product is late or haggling over co-marketing dollars. "Part of the problem ... is that often the relationship between the technology provider and the channel partners is based on problem resolution. The only time they talk is when there are problems, as opposed to the CEO of the [channel partner] organization meeting with the appropriate folks on the [technology provider] side and really helping them understand what the success of their model is predicated upon," Calhoun said. Calhoun said he believes it is important to establish good communication from the start, and that means basing the relationship on an understanding of the channel partner business model, not just providing the channel with a good product. "Companies may wonder why partners arent signing up when they have the best products in the marketplace, but they are going to sign up with whoever makes them successful as a business and understands what makes their business tick, and quite often thats beyond product," Calhoun said. Channel partnerships can provide a significant business boost for both technology provider and channel partner, but it takes a commitment and effort from both parties to work together to provide customers with new solutions. As Calhoun said, so long as the parties continue to communicate and work out differences and issues, each party in the partnership wins, and the customer gets a hybrid solution that might not otherwise have been available. Ron Miller is a freelance writer in Amherst, Mass. Contact him at email@example.com. Benefits of channel partnering Customer
Reach into different vertical markets
Broader geographic coverage
Free hardware and software to increase in-house skills
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To Hamilton, it makes sense to use the channel rather than try to handle everything in-house.