The Three Keys to Channel Analytics in High Tech

John DeSarbo, Principal

What are the three most important things high-tech vendors need when implementing a channel analytics program?

From our perspective, if you’re not moving forward, there’s a chance that your competitors will, and you’ll fall behind.

Key to channel analytics #1: Start with what you already have

One of the ways that we’ve seen companies make progress and actually starting to develop a channel analytics capability is by starting with the information they already have. By taking sales data that you might have from multiple years, partner profile information, and other sources of information that you might have from partners participating in various programs and so forth and putting that in one place, that provides a robust data source that you could use to start segmenting your partners in new ways.

But rather than just simply segmenting your channel partners based on size, you can start to look at segmenting channel partners based on their growth, their characteristics, their needs, even their behavior.

Key to channel analytics #2: Have a clear idea of goals before starting

Most successful channel analytics initiatives start with the end in mind. It’s about thinking from right to left.

Unfortunately, they focus first on aggregating all the different information that they can glean from channel partners, from customers, internal systems, putting it into one place, and then trying to figure out how to make sense of all that information. The result is they get stuck boiling the ocean—too much data from too many sources with not enough insight.

This isn’t about actually aggregating terabytes of information from your channel partners, from your customers, [and] trying to make sense of it. It’s about finding the information that you already have at your fingertips and then conducting robust analysis to really glean the insight from the information.

Key to channel analytics #3: Ensuring your team has the right skills

It’s rarely the case that the new technology and the new processes you implement in conjunction with the channel analytics program are what holds you back. The challenge usually has to do with not having the individuals on your team with the skills that are required to conduct sophisticated channel analytics.

They simply do not have the skill sets and experiences on their teams that they need to expand their channel analytics capabilities.

Simply hiring a bunch of data scientists and throwing them at the problem is not the answer. You need a combination of the quant skills, as well as the channel domain expertise to improve your channel analytics capabilities. Most industry leaders are looking at this problem and realizing they need a new competency model for channel operations. They need to redefine the skills that are needed and how the individuals on their team will develop throughout their careers. 

Many companies find that in the short run it makes sense to leverage third parties to supplement their teams’ capabilities, while they take the time to cultivate the skills that they need in the long run.