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The channel software stack comprises a group of technologies that help companies develop, design, and execute plans to find, recruit, onboard, develop, enable, incent, co-sell with, manage, measure, and report on partners. Delivering automation of indirect sales processes, workflows, and partner programs, channel software is becoming increasingly critical to a brand’s ability to win, serve, and retain its customers and partners. It’s a fast-growing market, with 8.9% growth during COVID-19-impacted 2020, as measured by employee hiring through LinkedIn.

One of the lasting effects of 2020 for the channel will be the changing programs we saw announced throughout the year. Late in the summer, we saw Chuck Robbins announce that Cisco would pursue a 100% subscription/consumption business — accelerated due to COVID-19. A few weeks later, Michael Dell announced the same thing for Dell Technologies — and all seven companies within its family of businesses — pushing $92 billion into a recurring business. Later in the year, IBM jettisoned its storied services business to focus on multicloud, hybrid cloud, and, yes, becoming 100% subscription/consumption. HPE, which has been on the journey for three years with GreenLake, announced that it will be fully there by 2022 — next year! Needless to say, we monitored (and helped) dozens of large vendors announce their trifurcated “build, sell, and service” programs catering to transacting AND nontransacting partners as well as traditional AND nontraditional.

With the rapidly shifting partner landscape, channel leaders and B2B marketers can no longer succeed with manual, human-centric processes or rely on spreadsheets to manage their partner programs. With the trifurcation of partners into influencer, transactional, and retention categories, managing a plethora of concurrent activities without sufficient automation is no longer possible.

In an Accenture survey, 76% of business leaders agree that current business models will be unrecognizable in the next five years — ecosystems will be the main change agent. I personally was involved in a few hundred inquiries (30-minute meetings) with channel professionals who were asking about ecosystem design, recruitment, mapping, management, measurement, enablement programs, and collaboration. The discussions were not about revenue-tiered models and gross-to-net margins but of driving value creation, leveraging network effects, and incubating co-innovation.

There are distinct patterns (or subcategories) emerging in the ecosystem space.

The channel software tech stack from 2020 included 18 companies that I put into a new “ecosystem management” bucket. These companies drove $93 million in pure software sales last year, according to my research. The number of companies have doubled this year to 36, and the revenue has almost doubled as well, to $173 million.

This includes:

  • Recruitment (at nonlinear scale)
  • Attribution (moving from consumer marketing attribution into B2B influencer)
  • Account mapping (innovative double-blind data “escrow”-type services)
  • Enablement/collaboration (at scale)
  • Marketplace and technology/API integrations
  • Ecosystem management (transacting/nontransacting and traditional/nontraditional)

 

 

To accelerate performance of their partnerships, alliances, and channel ecosystems, companies are evaluating and adopting a range of contributing technologies. Often, the focus of channel technologies is to manage, monitor, and measure the partner journey while improving the overall partner experience (PX). Running a channel program is inherently complex, with hundreds of elements and thousands of moving parts.

Partner programs generate mountains of data from multiple internal and external systems. Data also arrives at unpredictable intervals, is often incomplete or inaccurate, and doesn’t provide an integrated view of each partner or channel performance as a whole. Vendors are quickly overcoming these challenges and beginning to offer AI-infused, real-time, actionable insight. Channel software makes partnering easier, more consistent, and more predictable for both sides of the relationship.

Channel programs can also be very expensive, with front- and back-end discounts, rebates, programs, and incentives costing anywhere between 10% to 50% of the overall sale. The channel software tech stack is made up of 183 companies across seven technology categories that drove $2.8 billion in pure software revenue in 2020 (the vast majority in a software-as-a-service model).

 

Technology Categories

Partner relationship management (PRM) — Supports the activities required to manage the entire lifecycle of channel partners, including partner targeting, recruitment, onboarding, enablement, engagement, communication, development, co-selling, and co-marketing. It provides critical integrations to back-end systems such as CRM, enterprise resource planning, and marketing tools.

Through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) — Enables partners to engage their customers with a consistent vendor brand experience to create awareness and generate demand. It helps organize and disseminate content and supports the execution of marketing programs, campaigns, and co-branded collateral that drive partner-led demand and accelerate channel lead and pipeline volume and velocity. It includes through-, to-, for-, and with-channel marketing automation.

Channel learning and readiness (CLR) — Supports partner development through the administration, tracking, and delivery of educational training courses and enablement resources, including learning management systems, accreditation and certification management, content management systems, partner portals, communities, and sales enablement.

Channel incentives management (CIM) — Manages design, allocation, tracking, and distribution of financial incentives to the partner ecosystem, including market development funds (MDFs), sales performance incentive funds (SPIFs), co-ops, bonuses, rebates, price protection, channel sales compensation, and loyalty programs. It includes behavioral tactics such as gamification, micro-incentives, and nonmonetary and motivational incentives.

Channel data management (CDM) — Collects, cleanses, and aggregates transactional point-of-sale and inventory data from partners and distributors in a trusted single data asset that enables business and actionable intelligence. It includes new categories of predictive analytics, AI, and machine learning.

Channel marketplaces, financials, pricing, and inventory — Manages indirect-sales-related revenue and costs, determines the correct value of transactions, automates key financial reporting processes, and prevents errors in payment, commission, and rebates. It addresses pricing, inventory planning, gross-to-nets, discounts, compliance, tracking inventory levels, and price protection. Marketplaces are starting to make their mark here.

Channel ecosystem management — Manages the influence, transaction, and retention channels across the entire customer buying journey. It supports recruitment, attribution, account and partner mapping, enablement, collaboration, technology/API integrations, and overall ecosystem management covering all transacting/nontransacting and traditional/nontraditional partners.

The future of channels, alliances, and ecosystems will be anchored on automation, flexibility, scalability, and self-service.

The effective use of technology tools is no longer optional — ecosystems don’t run on spreadsheets!

 

CHANNEL LEARNING & READINESS (CLR) 

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
360Learning France, France Nick Hernandez 2013
Absorb LMS Alberta, Canada Mike Owens 2003
Adobe Captivate California, USA Shantanu Narayen 1982
Bigtincan California, USA David Keane 2012
BlueVolt Oregon, USA Benjamin Ertischek 2003
Brainshark Massachusetts, USA Greg Flynn 1999
Channel Rocket Colorado, USA Greg Sherrill 2013
Channel360 Hampshire, UK Mark Fowler 1999
ChannelCentral Essex, UK Tim Moyle 2007
ChannelEZ California, USA Sam Gadi 2013
ChannelPro REACH Dubai, UAE Elias Bou Ghosn 2018
CM-Focus Texas, USA Girish Balakrishnan 2008
Cornerstone California, USA Phil Saunders 1999
CoSell.io California, USA Rob Brown 2019
Crowd Wisdom Florida, USA Sharon Love 2017
CSG Services Washington, USA Ian McAlister 1997
Elioplus Athens, Greece Elias Ndreu 2015
Expertus California, USA Ramesh Ramani 1998
Fision Minnesota, USA Mike Brown 2011
Flipdeck California, USA Lee Mayfield 2015
FusionGrove London, UK Brian Allsopp 2001
Gorilla Corporation California, USA Carlo Tortora Brayda di Belvedere 1992
Growth Engineering Berkshire, UK David Denny 2004
Highspot Washington, USA Robert Wahbe 2012
IBM Partner Engagement Manager New York, USA Arvind Krishna 1911
Kickpost.io Arizona, USA Richard Rodriguez 2018
Klyck Ontario, Canada Chris Skura 2016
Latitude Learning Michigan, USA Jeff Walter 2003
LeadMethod Oregon, USA Justin Johnson 2014
LeadSmart Technologies California, USA Kevin Brown 2018
Mediafly Illinois, USA Carson Conant 2006
Mobileforce California, USA Jagadish Bandhole 2011
NetExam Texas, USA Brett Strauss 1999
PartnerAmp Wisconson, USA Jon Aleckson 1999
Partnerhood California, USA Elay Cohen 2013
PartnerInsight UK, UK Roman Kirsanov 2019
PartnerOn Massachusetts, USA Jeffrey Mesnik 2010
PartnerTap Washington, USA Cassandra Gholston 2016
Q2E California, USA Mahesh Rao 2016
Qotient California, USA Justin Wright 2013
Recur Global Hertfordshire, UK Matthew Hathorn 2011
Salesforce California, USA Marc Benioff 1999
Seismic California, USA Doug Winter 2010
Skilljar Washington, USA Sandi Lin 2013
TalentLMS California, USA Thanos Papangelis 2012
Teckedin.com New Mexico, USA Debby Kruzic 2016
Vartopia Wyoming, USA Michael Reilly 2009

 

THROUGH-CHANNEL MARKETING AUTOMATION (TCMA)

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
Ansira Missouri, USA Jay Dettling 1919
Aprimo Illinois, USA Erik Huddleston 2006
Awin Berlin, Germany Mark Walters 2000
BrandMaker Germany, Germany Mirko Holzer 1999
Brandmuscle Illinois, USA Scott Weeren 2000
Bridgeline Digital Massachusetts, USA Ari Kahn 2000
Broadridge New York, USA Tim Gokey 1962
CampaignDrive by Pica9 New York, USA Kevin Groome 2001
Channel Fusion Iowa, USA Pankaj Monga 2003
ChannelXperts Landau, Germany Volker Wiora 2006
Channext Utrecht, Netherlands Rick van den Bosch 2018
Code Worldwide England, UK Matt McNeany 2003
Computer Market Research California, USA Del Heles 1984
ContentMX Massachusetts, USA Jeffrey Mesnik 2009
DemandBridge Georgia, USA David Rich 1975
Distribion Texas, USA Eric Meyers 2009
E2open California, USA Michael Farlekas 2004
Elateral Surrey, UK Peter Blackburn 1998
eTrigue California, USA Jeff Holmes 2011
Gage Minnesota, USA Tom Belle 1992
Impartner Utah, USA Joe Wang 1997
MarcomCentral California, USA Byung Choi 2000
Mindmatrix Pennsylvania, USA Harbinder Khera 1998
MRP Pennsylvania, USA Kevin Cunningham 2002
Netsertive North Carolina, USA Steve Leonard 2009
OneAffiniti NSW, Australia Joel Montgomery 2008
PageFlex Massachusetts, USA Jim Dore 1997
Powerchord Florida, USA William Volmuth 2001
promoboxx Massachusetts, USA Brent Delehey 2010
Relevize Massachusetts, USA Michael Nardella 2019
RVLVR California, USA Mike Trevino 2017
Silvercrest California, USA William Rodriguez 2011
Sitecore California, USA Mark Frost 1999
Spark Your Channel Colorado, USA Heather K. Margolis 2020
Sproutloud Florida, USA Jared Shusterman 2006
StructuredWeb New York, USA Daniel Nissan 1998
Thalamus California, USA Garrett Gan 2014
TripTych Minnesota, USA Fuzzy Marek 1974
twogether Marlow, UK Kirsty Gilchrist 2001
Vendasta Saskatchewan, Canada Brendan King 2008
Vistex Illinois, USA Sanjay Shah 1999
Wedia Ile-de-France, France Nicolas Boutet 2001
xAmplify California, USA Sudhir Nambiar 2018
Zift Solutions New Jersey, USA Gordon Rapkin 2006
Zinfi Technologies California, USA Sugata Sanyal 2007

 

CHANNEL INCENTIVES MANAGEMENT (CIM)

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
360insights Ontario, Canada Jason Atkins 2008
ACB New York, USA Michael Bookman 1917
Ansira Missouri, USA Jay Dettling 1919
Aprimo Illinois, USA Erik Huddleston 2006
BI Worldwide Minnesota, USA Abby Cohen 1950
Blackhawk Network Texas, USA Talbott Roche 2015
Brandmuscle Illinois, USA Scott Weeren 2000
Channel Fusion Iowa, USA Pankaj Monga 2003
Channel Mechanics Galway, Ireland Kenneth Fox 2011
ChannelAssist Ontario, Canada David Auld 1999
ChannelPro REACH Dubai, UAE Elias Bou Ghosn 2018
Collinson Group London, UK Chris Evans 1992
Comviva Haryana, India Manoranjan Mohapatra 1999
Conga California, USA Noel Goggin 2006
E2open California, USA Michael Farlekas 2004
Fielo California, USA Sanjay Agarwal 2010
Flintfox Auckland, New Zealand Mike Ridgway 1987
Gage Minnesota, USA Tom Belle 1992
HeraldLogic Maharashtra, India Ram Ramdas 2000
Hinda Incentives Illinois, USA Michael Donnelly 1970
HMI Performance Incentives Massachusetts, USA Kiwon Chang 1980
Impact California, USA David Yovanno 2008
Incentive Solutions Georgia, USA Mark Herbert 1994
ITA Group Iowa, USA Brent Vander Waal 1963
Maritz Missouri, USA Steve Maritz 1894
Market Medium California, USA Jason Bletz 2015
Model N California, USA Jason Blessing 1999
Netformx California, USA Ittai Bareket 1994
Online Rewards Texas, USA Michael Levy 2002
Partnerize Newcastle, UK Matt Gilbert 2010
Sproutloud Florida, USA Jared Shusterman 2006
Vanson Minnesota, USA Chris Vanderploeg 1997
Vistex Illinois, USA Sanjay Shah 1999
Vortex 6 Bracknell, UK Peter Olive 2009
WorkStride New York, USA Tom Silk 1999
Xoxoday Karnataka, India Sumit Khandelwal 2012

 

PARTNER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (PRM)

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
Allbound Arizona, USA Daniel Graff-Radford 2014
AppDirect California, USA Nicolas Desmarais 2017
Aximpro Bavaria, Germany Andreas Reid 2008
Channeltivity North Carolina, USA Jason Jacobs 2007
ChannelXperts Landau, Germany Volker Wiora 2006
Computer Market Research California, USA Del Heles 1984
Comviva Haryana, India Manoranjan Mohapatra 1999
Creatio Massachusetts, USA Katherine Kostereva 2002
Elioplus Athens, Greece Elias Ndreu 2015
GorillaToolz New York, USA Jay Fruin 2007
Impartner Utah, USA Joe Wang 1997
Inova Software France, France Gilles Toulemonde
2010
Kiflo PRM France, France Steven Muhr 2018
LogicBay North Carolina, USA Tim Lindsay 1980
Magentrix Ontario, Canada Sam Arjmandi 2012
Mindmatrix Pennsylvania, USA Harbinder Khera 1998
myprm Levallois-Perret, France Richard Bessis 2015
NowApps ChannelKonnect Bengaluru, India Basaveswarlu Boyapati 2015
Oracle PRM California, USA Safra Catz 1977
PartnerPortal.io Ontario, Canada Jonathan Coy 2018
PartnerStack Ontario, Canada Bryn Jones 2015
Pegasystems Massachusetts, USA Alan Trefler 1983
Salesforce California, USA Marc Benioff 1999
Webinfinity New York, USA James Hodgkinson 2012
Zift Solutions New Jersey, USA Gordon Rapkin 2006
Zinfi Technologies California, USA Sugata Sanyal 2007

 

CHANNEL MARKETPLACES, FINANCE, PRICING, & INVENTORY

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
AppBind California, USA Sunir Shah 2018
AppDirect California, USA Nicolas Desmarais 2017
AppXite Riga, Latvia Nicolas Albana 2014
ChannelAdvisor North Carolina, USA David Spitz 2001
ChannelCentral Essex, UK Tim Moyle 2007
Cleverbridge Cologne, Germany Craig Vodnik 2005
CloudBlue California, USA Nimesh Davé 2015
Computer Market Research California, USA Del Heles 1984
Conga California, USA Noel Goggin 2006
DemandBridge Georgia, USA David Rich 1975
E2open California, USA Michael Farlekas 2004
iasset.com California, USA Scott Frew 2008
Model N California, USA Jason Blessing 1999
NowApps ChannelKonnect Bengaluru, India Basaveswarlu Boyapati 2015
Oracle PRM California, USA Safra Catz 1977
PROS Texas, USA Andres Reiner 1985
Renewtrak New South Wales, Australia Mathew Cagney 2014
Salesforce California, USA Marc Benioff 1999
SAP California, USA Christian Klein 1996
servicePath Ontario, Canada Daniel Kube 2011
Tackle.io Idaho, USA John Jahnke 2016
Vendasta Saskatchewan, Canada Brendan King 2008
Vendavo Colorado, USA Bruno Slosse 1998
Vistex Illinois, USA Sanjay Shah 1999

 

CHANNEL DATA MANAGEMENT (CDM)

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
360insights Ontario, Canada Jason Atkins 2008
Aximpro Bavaria, Germany Andreas Reid 2008
bChannels Oxfordshire, UK Phil Gowing 1999
Bizcise Washington, USA Matt Wilson 2017
Canalys Singapore, Singapore Steve Brazier 1998
Channel360 Hampshire, UK Mark Fowler 1999
Compubase Les Ulis, France Jack Mandard 1989
Computer Market Research California, USA Del Heles 1984
Crossbeam Pennsylvania, USA Bob Moore 2018
E2open California, USA Michael Farlekas 2004
Everthere Tel Aviv, Israel Maayan Levy 2014
Gorilla Corporation California, USA Carlo Tortora Brayda di Belvedere 1992
IQBlade Liverpool, UK Ben Abraham 2016
Model N California, USA Jason Blessing 1999
PartnerOptimizer California, USA Dina Moskowitz 2011
Q2E California, USA Mahesh Rao 2016
Salesforce California, USA Marc Benioff 1999
Successful Channels Massachusetts, USA Gary Morris 2015
TechTarget Massachusetts, USA Mike Cotoia 1999
Vistex Illinois, USA Sanjay Shah 1999

 

CHANNEL ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT

Company Headquarters CEO Founded Social
Allianceboard Quebec, Canada Louis Rinfret 2017
Apideck California, USA Gertjan De Wilde 2018
AppXite Riga, Latvia Nicolas Albana 2014
Balluun California, USA Deepak Gupta 2009
Breezy.io England, UK Alex Phillips 2019
ChannelCentral Essex, UK Tim Moyle 2007
CloudBlue California, USA Nimesh Davé 2015
Constellant Texas, USA Bhavesh Patal 2001
Crossbeam Pennsylvania, USA Bob Moore 2018
Everthere Tel Aviv, Israel Maayan Levy 2014
Impact California, USA David Yovanno 2008
Ingenious Technologies Berlin, Germany Siamak Haschemi 2012
LogicBay North Carolina, USA Tim Lindsay 1980
MeasureMatch England, UK James Sandoval 2016
Mirakl Paris, France Philippe Corrot 2011
Moonshot Madrid, Spain David Suriol Puigvert 2017
P2P Global Ohio, USA John Guido 2019
Partner to Profit Vermont, USA Keith Gaylord 2015
PartnerConnect California, USA Rohan Kulkarni 2017
Partnered.io New York, USA Adam Michalski 2018
Partnerize Newcastle, UK Matt Gilbert 2010
PartnerOptimizer California, USA Dina Moskowitz 2011
PartnerPrograms.io Illinois, USA Alex Glenn 2018
PartnerStack Ontario, Canada Bryn Jones 2015
Postbeyond Ontario, Canada David Lloyd 2013
Pronto California, USA Swaroop Kolli 2018
Qollabi Brussels, Belgium Friedrich Pétré 2009
Sharework Paris, France Simon Bouchez 2018
Spiisee Ontario, Canada Carl Watene 2018
TIDWIT Virginia, USA Wissam (Will) Yafi 2003
Tr3dent Galway, Ireland Kevin McCaffrey 2011
TUNE Washington, USA Cameron Stewart 2009
Vation Ventures Colorado, USA Dave O’Callaghan 2017
VikRee Singapore, Singapore Srihari Govindarajan 2020
Webinfinity New York, USA James Hodgkinson 2012
WorkSpan California, USA Mayank Singh Bawa 2015

 

Check Out The Older Tech Stacks Here:

2020
Channel Software Tech Stack 2020 - Jay McBain

 

2019

 

2018

 

 

Further Channel-Related Reading

How Did I Score On My Channel Outlook For 2020?

Channel Marketers Need To Become Community Marketers — Here’s How

Marketplaces Make Their Mark In The Channel

The Decade Of The Channel Ecosystem Accelerates With Massive Software Consolidation

Through-Channel Marketing Represents The Third Stage For Sales And Marketing Leaders

Channel Data Is A Competitive Differentiator

Measure What Matters: Unlocking The Power Of Partner Ecosystems Demands Powerful Measurement

Time To Rethink Channel Incentives And Program Management (CIPM)?

Channel Automation Becomes Table Stakes For Partnership Success

Can You Deliver A Great Partner Experience Without Great Onboarding?

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The 64 Best Channel Podcasts Of 2019