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EMC partner program tweaks aim for simplification

EMC is making adjustments to simplify its channel partner initiatives, tweaking deal registration and market development funds, among other program areas.

One year into EMC's overhauled Business Partner Program, company channel chief Gregg Ambulos today announced some changes per EMC partner request. The changes align with the vendor's goal of making the program simple, predictable and profitable.

While touting the program's success to date and noting that the company paid out more rebates than ever before, Ambulos, senior vice president of global channel sales at EMC, said that he listened to partner feedback and has made some tweaks.

"This year, it's all about being stable, because we do have a good foundation in place," he said, adding that the changes to Business Partner Program (BPP) are significant to partners.

The BPP enhancements offer something for everyone.

For starters, EMC will increase the amount it pays in rebates to its Silver-tier partners -- or 16% more in 2016. So, when it comes to profitability, the vendor is increasing the payout percentage from dollar one for Silver partners in 2016.

This year, it's all about being stable, because we do have a good foundation in place.
Gregg Ambulossenior vice president, global channel sales, EMC

EMC also made some changes to revenue thresholds for 2016 in certain markets based on market conditions. None of the revenue requirements went up, and in the U.S., revenue threshold requirements stayed the same. In fact, revenue thresholds for Canadian partners and Latin American partners will decrease. EMC would not reveal by how much.

However, the bottom line is that by decreasing revenue requirements, partners can get to the next tier faster.

As a reminder, under the BPP that kicked off in January 2015, Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers each have a revenue threshold, as well as compliance around sales, technical and services. There's an annual compliance period at which time a partner's performance is evaluated, which dictates what tier it is in; partners can move up or down the tiers only one time per year.

Change is in store for EMC True, a program that EMC piloted in North America last year. There were two versions of the program: one for exclusive EMC partners, and another for loyal partners whose storage and backup businesses were made up of about 80% EMC products. All partners got additional benefits, such as rebates, free certifications, more co-op dollars and more.

The program continues in 2016, and will be expanded to Latin America, EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region.

EMC: Partner programs to integrate

In an effort to make EMC partner programs even simpler than in the initial BPP overhaul, EMC will integrate the VCE Partner Program into the Solution Partner Program, which is within Ambulos' organization.

Earlier this month, Chad Sakac was appointed president of VCE. Heading up the converged platform division of EMC, Sakac, an 11-year veteran of the company, will also continue to run the EMC global systems engineering team. One year after becoming an EMC business, VCE is now the EMC Converged Platforms Division.

To that end, the VCE channel organization will continue to position the converged infrastructure with partners and customers, acting as a specialty arm of the channel group.

"Having one program now, we're making it easier for partners to transact and work with EMC," Ambulos said. There's a 100% overlap between VCE and EMC partners, he noted.

A single partner program also reduces the cost to a partner's business versus having to participate in two programs, said Julie Christiansen, senior director of partner strategy and marketing operations at EMC.

For new EMC partners, or authorized partners, the vendor is offering a mid-year compliance timeframe to meet Silver-tier requirements, as opposed to having to wait for the annual compliance period.

EMC also fine-tuned training and enablement. Going forward, Platinum partners won't be required to take three solution paths -- cloud, mobile and big data. Instead, they can pick which path works best for their business. This change also impacts Gold partners.

For Silver partners, EMC simplified the product portfolio competencies they're required to take. "It's more focused and limited in number," Christiansen said.

A key initiative to improve the ease of doing business with EMC is the introduction of MyQuotes earlier this month. The new quoting system replaces two separate systems: one for channel partners, called Channel Express, and another for the vendor's direct sales force, called Direct Express.

"One quoting system is going to drive tighter collaboration between sales and partners, as well as make [sales reps] more responsive in the field. It's going to benefit everybody and it's mobile," Ambulos said.

Minor changes to simplify EMC partner programs

In addition, the vendor simplified deal registration by removing stackable discounts. The vendor also combined earned market development funds (MDF) and proposal MDF into one document on how partners can spend MDF.

"In the past, there was some hangover from being too directive, where, with this change, we're letting go of the reins and trusting our partners more," Christiansen said.

The company also simplified the MDF claims process.

Next Steps

Read a one-on-one interview with Gregg Ambulos

Learn what's ahead for Dell and EMC partner companies in light of the buyout

Find out about EMC's hybrid cloud

Are you up to speed on channel partner programs, trends and developments? Take a quiz to find out.

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What do EMC's recent channel program tweaks mean to you as an EMC partner?
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It seems odd to me that we're not hearing anything yet about coordination with Dell. If they have to wait til the deal finalizes before they can even talk about it, I wonder how much of this was an effort to keep the partners from jumping ship in the meantime.
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Thanks for your comment, Sharon. Vendors often keep mum about partner programs merger details prior to the completion of an acquisition. That said, vendors do worry about partners jumping ship when there's turmoil.
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