Security software vendor Trend Micro has announced the beginning of the rollout of its first global partner program. The new Trend Micro Partner Program subsumes Trend Micro’s former regional programs while also drawing best practices from them. The company has also made enhancements in areas like deal registration and cloud referral partners, which they say will make it more proactive in dealing with partners. The rollout will continue until Q1 of 2015.
“For 26 years, our regions globally have had channel programs which has been mature and working, but which had lots of room for improvement,” said Partha Panda, Trend Micro’s vice president of global channel and strategic alliances. “This is our first ever global partner program. In the past, it was a 20-80 model, meaning 20% was a small subset common to all regions, and 80% was programs which each region built out on its own. Now it’s more 80-20, with 80% centralized and globalized and 20% addressing issues in specific regions.”
Panda said that the changing business landscape mandated the change to a more centralized program.
“As Trend Micro expanded our solution set, and went into places like cloud security and mobility and Advanced Persistent Threats, which are quite complicated, we found the channel was having some difficulties grappling with the changes,” he said. “We also wanted to be able to look at our partner base and identify which ones we want to take the journey with, and get them working closer with us. We also wanted to attract some new ‘Born in the Cloud’ partners because we want to be ready when the public cloud takes off like the private cloud did.”
Partha also indicated that the timing also stemmed from some significant changes Trend made to its channel program in North America last year, which they were able to use as a template for the global changes.
“The changes impacted how we manage, align and enable partners, and we have been monitoring the results since then, which made this the perfect time to align our first ever global partner program,” he said. He indicated, however, that the changes are much more than just globalizing these changes from last year.
“It is taking the best practices from all the regions and bringing them all together in the new partner program,” Panda said. “For instance, we have a completely new deal registration system, and it is all centralized, and the communication is all centralized now. From a partner perspective, a much more enriched view is possible. We can now do a quarterly business review based on more than what the partner did, comparing it to their peer group and region, which we couldn’t do before.”
The best practices will help partners in many regions in the cloud.
“In some regions, we have seen success in launching cloud specializations, and some are ahead of others, so we can see the impact newly launched specializations have had and quickly duplicate that in all the regions,” Panda said. “Specialization benefits from best practices in being able to align to a partner’s strength, and give them the program and compensation strength behind it.”
Panda said the new structure will allow Trend to respond more quickly to opportunities.
“It improves our communications and enablement, and helps align partners to the right segment,” he said. “It improves how we manage the partners, and share information to drive new business.”
As part of the changes, Trend has improved its partner portal, and is developing a new one which will be live in 2015, that it promises will further enrich the partner experience by providing improved deal registration, content syndication, social media network access, and quicker access to support.
“We will be rolling out a lot of changes to the portal from now to the end of the year and until the new portal goes live in 2015,” Panda said. “Partners will see a new consistent method in describing partners, with standardized branding and naming. The portal refresh also includes regional standardization.”
Trend Micro’s education program has been simplified and the levels of training and certification have been reduced to two.
“Before, it was quite complicated, and management was hard, both for us and also for our partners,” Panda said. “There are just two levels now, sales and technical, for both training and certification. In the past we had many more tracks, like sales engineers, administration and services.” He said the amount of product-centred information has been reduced, and is now all aligned with core messaging, so all the products fit into three buckets.
“The education portal and sales hub will now all be interconnected,” Panda added. “You had three separate logins before. Now education will be very closely tied to sales.”
Partner segmentation has also been better defined, and the compensation structure enhanced.
“The issue with segmentation was that the same product can be sold in different ways,” Panda said. “Compliance and defense in depth are sold differently by security VARs, and by infrastructure VARs who sell stacks. The sales motion for the infrastructure VARs to train them on security is harder. So what we have done was take the same products and put a stack message around it, so that AV is positioned as one of the layers in the stack with VMware, and the OS and the other elements, so they can ask if they want modules switched on.”
The compensation changes will have minimal impact on North American partners, since the new changes are based on the ones done here last year.
Deal protection has been enhanced with its extension to include Bronze partners that have completed one or more specializations. Changes coming in the second half of the year to deal registration will break it into three components — finding, driving and closure.
“This change will reward partners better, and will be rolled out in the second half of the year,” Panda said. “The issue with the old deal registration system is partners haven’t brought in an opportunity unless they are completely confident they can close. Other big vendors, like VMware and Cisco, have been very successful with this new model.”
A new referral partner tier has also been added to target “Born in the Cloud” technology service providers and other trusted advisors.
“We have done this because we absolutely want to address these ‘Born in the Cloud’ partners,” Panda said. “These referral partners are a new bucket, and this gives something to compensate them.”
Trend also wants to increase the amount of business partners do with Trend’s strategic vendor partners.
“We have had a lot of success with our strategic partner base,” he said. “Our own overlap with big vendors like VMware is minimal, which allows us to put co-selling relationships in. We want to get channel partners closer to our alliance strategy so we can have more bundling and upsell conversations.” He noted a recent alliance with HP over Tipping Point solutions, in which customers can now add in deep discovery capabilities from Trend to leverage Tipping Point investments they have already made.