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Trend Micro partner program to globalize

Vendor Trend Micro announced it's globalizing its regional partner program, offering its worldwide partner base a standardized set of program features, benefits and requirements.

Antivirus and content security vendor Trend Micro Inc. this week launched its global partner program -- a program the company said is designed to combine the best elements of its previous regional and North American partner programs into one standardized, consistent program.

Partha Panda, the vice president of the U.S. channel at Trend Micro, cited several drivers behind Trend Micro's decision to globalize its regional partner programs. Drivers included the maturity of its regional programs; Trend Micro's successful alliances with companies such as VMware, AWS, HP and Dell; and, very importantly, the "massively changing business landscape." He also said it was the right time to "not only breathe some energy" into the exisiting Trend Micro partner base, "but also to refresh the partner program and get some new partners into the mix."

"[The number-one driver] is, we've been in business for 26 years and have had a channel program in all of our regions globally for a big part of those 26 years -- a really mature channel program, every region operating independently and doing very, very well," Panda said.

"We had a partner program and the partner program was in all the regions. What happened was all the regions customized it to meet their own needs, so we ended up having a partner program which is very regional-focused -- like an EMEA partner program and an APAC partner program and Latin America partner program and a U.S./Canada partner program," Panda explained. "So now we are tying all of this together, taking the best practices from everywhere, and putting them all in … the same program structure."

And I'm sure there will be some partners who may not be able to make that journey, but hopefully, the vast majority will.
Partha PandaVP of U.S. Channel Sales, Trend Micro

Panda said the time was right for Trend Micro to identify partners that the vendor could enable in newer spaces [such as cloud and mobile] and take them on Trend Micro's "journey to the next level."

"And I'm sure there will be some partners who may not be able to make that journey," said Panda, "but hopefully, the vast majority will."

According to Panda, it's possible Trend Micro will also have to "go out and recruit a completely new set of partners" -- for example, born-in-the-cloud partners "who influence a lot of these cloud sales." The global partner program features a new referral partner program to target born-in-the-cloud technology service providers.

Not all features of the global partner program will be new to Trend Micro partners. "Depending on the region, there were certain elements and attributes of this global partner program which are new and different -- things like upfront discounts, deal registration discounts, the benefits, the enablement, the specializations and SPIFs [sales performance incentive funds] and so on," Panda said. "It all depends on which region you were."

Andrew Welsh, direct of partner alliances at information security partner Accuvant, said the Trend Micro partner program changes are all positive. A Trend Micro Premium partner, Accuvant has 565 employees across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asian Pacific and has partnered with Trend Micro for 10 years. Welsh said the global partner program "will allow Accuvant to offer new solutions that address information security issues that few others in the market [offer]."

IT solution provider eGroup's marketing and communications manager Rich Young also commented on the globalized Trend Micro partner program, saying that while he had yet to learn all the details, he sees the program changes as a positive. Simplifying and creating consistency in a partner program is a good thing.

Trend Micro said it has streamlined its education program, which now provides two levels of training and certificationand added a new education portal. "We had quite a few courses that were available for our partners -- both courses and certifications and so on -- and it got complicated over the years," Panda said.

"All of our training and certifications are now aligned to our core offerings, which we call 'The Three C's' – Complete End User Protection, Cloud Security, and Custom Defense. All of our products fall into these three buckets and now the training and certifications are a completely aligned to those Three C's, as well."

The program also offers partners a set of sales and marketing tools through a refreshed Trend Micro Partner Portal. The company said a new partner portal will be released that will provide improved deal registration, content syndication, social media network access, faster access to support and more.

Additonally, Trend Micro said the global partner program will feature an enhanced compensation structure, which will include more benefits for Bronze partners. "In some regions … Bronze partners could not qualify for deal registration. Now globally, if the Bronze partners have specialization, they can go and do deal registration. In the past, every region had their own upfront discount and deal registration discount. Now it's all standardized, so all of our partners will be able to take advantage," Panda said.

Moreover, "In some regions, these standardized discounts are higher than what they made before," Panda said. "In some cases, the amount of discount offered on deal registration was limited to only net new opportunities."

Other benefits of the globalized program include clearly defined partner segmentation; tiered, standardized reseller levels -- Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum; and dedicated channel account teams.

Trend Micro said it will complete the rollout of the new program in the first quarter of 2015.

The invitation-only Trend Micro Global Partner Summit will be held October 21-23, 2014 in Las Vegas.

"None of our countries or regions are operating in a silo anymore," Panda said. "They have contextual information from countries of similar shape, size and maturity from across the globe. So whether it's the requirements or benefits or specializations or incentives, there is a common thread now tying everybody [together.]"

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Are there drawbacks to globalizing a regional partner program like Trend Micro's?