Facebook for the Channel: The Network Effect

by Casey B. Lockwood

No, I’m not talking about posting your best dance moves from Dreamforce on some channel chief’s wall….. We’ll let someone else go to YC or TechCrunch Disrupt with that one… The concept of a connected network has been unfairly grouped into a category of recreation, leisure and oversharing. This categorizing dilutes the power of an incredibly important concept with valuable applications to the channel.

“Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast,you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful.” – Edward Norton

With a network-centric hat on, an inspection of the channel reveals that it has always been a prime target for a networked system. At a high level there is a set of technology vendors and a set of resellers. Resellers work with many vendors, while some vendors also work with other vendors to create packaged solutions. The process to do business with each vendor is largely the same, and each vendor requires a very similar set of the same steps, each one equal in terms of labor.

Properly designed networks thrive because they give every stakeholder leverage, every user consolidated interfaces and a one-to-many experience. There is huge opportunity here in the power of an interconnected system, of single instance and multi tenancy, of consolidated processes and tasks. Can you imagine a channel relationship where “Too Much Information” was the problem?

Metcalfe’s law states that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system.

When it comes to the channel, whether as a Vendor, you’re managing a diverse and growing group of partners, or as a Reseller, you’re juggling an expanding set of vendors to meet your customers’ needs, a deal registration network effect can make it easier for your to gain visibility to your entire opportunity pipeline.

Through the network, Vendors and Resellers collectively gain access to reporting and analytics that matter to them. Reseller reports are aggregated, giving them a unique view across all their key vendors. Vendor management and reporting remains in their Salesforce, giving line of sight to the entire opportunity pipeline – partner driven as well as direct leads – while leveraging all of its reporting power. Data becomes actionable rather than historical, adoption becomes real as more Vendors and Resellers use the network, and Vendor Reseller relationships become easier to develop and grow.

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