Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Aruna Ravichandran

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Cloud-Based Channel Data Management By @Dan_Blacharski | @CloudExpo [#Cloud]

Managing a large reseller network is a little like herding cats

Cloud-Based Channel Data Management Solutions

Large technology manufacturers that focus on channel sales through distributors and resellers have traditionally operated with informal processes, using tools like spreadsheets and information driven by anecdotal stories from channel partners, unstructured data, and the "gut instinct" of channel sales managers. Too often, the result is an unacceptable level of inaccurate payouts and leaky incentivizing, stock-outs due to lack of insight into inventory, and missed revenue opportunities.

These old school approaches to channel management are undergoing some radical transformations, by necessity. Public companies have an especially heavy burden to ensure accurate channel management, in response to SEC revenue recognition rules designed to avoid channel-stuffing. Even privately held corporations are seeing the results of this change in channel management practices. Private equity firms are holding their portfolio companies to a higher standard, and smaller manufacturers are looking to refine their channel programs to meet the continuing challenges of low margins and increased competition.

This shift increasingly involves data-driven channel management and a high degree of automation that validates and enriches the incoming channel data, while combining a services component to resolve inaccurate or incomplete information reported by channel partners in the field. In addition, closer attention is being paid to the "long tail" of the channel.

What Are Your Resellers Doing? The Cloud Knows
Managing a large reseller network is a little like herding cats, and a cloud-based channel data management system may turn out to be the perfect channel wrangler.

"Traditionally, most companies haven't had the accuracy and visibility they need regarding channel partner inventory to truly understand what is physically in that channel inventory," says Ted Dimbero, Chief Customer Officer of the cloud-based channel data management firm Zyme. "They were making a lot of guesses, and sometimes that doesn't work. When you have new products, there's a risk in how much inventory to put into the channel, because you're not sure if it's going to sell. On the other side, revenue can be lost through stock-outs and lack of available inventory. The key is to gather more detailed channel inventory down to the store level. It allows companies to respond in real time to inventory that may be building up, or inventory that is rapidly selling so you can avoid stock-outs."

Achieving that level of granularity in an informal and far-reaching network is challenging, to say the least. Getting accurate information, in the right format and on a timely basis, often rests with thousands of individuals who may be independent-minded and reluctant to spend time filing paperwork when they could be talking with customers instead.

Managing a large reseller network requires as much automation as possible - automation that is integrated into a decision support framework based on a sophisticated analytics platform that allows decision-makers to see in real time who is selling what, where.

Analytics and cloud-based data collection have advanced to the point where large amounts of data, even when unstructured, can be collected, parsed, and analyzed in real time to deliver greater visibility. But analytics is only part of the solution. Reports coming from a large network of independent partners may often contain inaccuracies or overstated POS information, might be filed late, and are likely to be missing the type of granular data that ultimately makes a difference in the bottom line.

The solution lies in pairing an automated data management platform with a staff of human data stewards who understand the manufacturer's channel program and product line and are able to manage data quality and exceptions. A data steward essentially acts as a type of human middleware, cleansing data and resolving problems. The result is a better and more accurate picture of the channel, and an early warning system that catches and resolves issues before they turn into disasters.

The Sales Channel's Long Tail
Manufacturers with multiple SKUs, short cycles, and a large network need to know the amount and location of products at any given moment to avoid inventory problems. But accurate data is also important as part of the incentivization and rebate processes. It's not unusual for a large manufacturer to invest most of its resources into a small number of high-performing channel partners, following the 80/20 rule, which sends most of the resources to partners who bring in most of the sales.

The problem with that approach is it ignores the long tail, and the result can be enormous waste, improper payments, and lost market share. Rather than devoting 80 percent of channel resources to 20 percent of channel partners, a micro-targeting strategy based on more accurate data throughout the network would deliver better results.

Reduced Risk, Lower Costs, Higher Revenues
To summarize, a better channel management program will:

  • Address the "long tail" of the channel, devoting time and energy to the entire program, not just the top performers.
  • Include a combination of technology-based analytics and data collection, validation, and enrichment with a corresponding human-powered data steward program.

There are three concrete benefits to this approach. First, an increased ROI can result from better inventory risk management and increased visibility because of fewer write-offs and stock-outs. Second, manufacturers benefit from cost reductions due to more accurate channel information. And third, manufacturers gain more revenue opportunities with increased visibility into seller activity. Granular details down to the store level, for example, allow a manufacturer to know what is selling in each location, and to respond with appropriate inventory adjustments.

More attention to every part of the channel is essential to staying competitive. An effective solution to this is a cloud-based channel management platform with a complete ecosystem of applications to manage and monitor market development funds, partner rebates, and loyalty programs. Such a platform, that validates and enriches the incoming channel data, along with human data stewards to manage the exceptions, can address the most vexing channel sales problems facing manufacturers today.

More Stories By Dan Blacharski

Dan Blacharski is a thought leader, advisor, industry observer and PR counsel at Ugly Dog Media, and author of the book "Dotcloud Boom." He has been widely published on subjects relating to customer-facing technology, fintech, cloud computing and crowdsourcing. He lives in South Bend, Indiana with his wife Charoenkwan and their Boston Terrier, "Ling Ba." Follow @Dan_Blacharski

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
First generation hyperconverged solutions have taken the data center by storm, rapidly proliferating in pockets everywhere to provide further consolidation of floor space and workloads. These first generation solutions are not without challenges, however. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Wes Talbert, a Principal Architect and results-driven enterprise sales leader at NetApp, will discuss how the HCI solution of tomorrow will integrate with the public cloud to deliver a quality hybrid cloud e...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable? Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, will answer these questions and demonstrate techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busine...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Organizations do not need a Big Data strategy; they need a business strategy that incorporates Big Data. Most organizations lack a road map for using Big Data to optimize key business processes, deliver a differentiated customer experience, or uncover new business opportunities. They do not understand what’s possible with respect to integrating Big Data into the business model.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities – ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.