We are not worthy

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The 'ideal' channel partnership is the stuff of myth and low comedy, says Billy MacInnes



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3 May 2019 | 0

Anyone who has seen the film Wayne’s World – and those that haven’t – will find themselves, at some stage, quoting some of its more well-worn phrases. One of those comes when Wayne’s geeky best friend and co-host, Garth Algar, responds to suggestions by sleazy TV producer, Benjamin Oliver (played by Rob Lowe), that there should be some changes to the format of the programme. “We fear change,” he tells Oliver and then freaks out .

It’s probably fair to say that the IT channel is a little tighter on laughs than Wayne’s World, even if it does have its fair share of Garths and Benjamins, but one thing it doesn’t lack is change. A cursory look at a few websites last week revealed a fair number of headlines concerning vendors rebranding, changing or overhauling their partner programmes. Suffice to say that if IT partners reacted to change the way Garth does, they’d run out of things to smash pretty quickly.

The stated motivation for much of this change is a drive for less complexity, a desire to make it simpler to do business and to make life easier for the partner and customer. No one can argue with those laudable objectives – although I suspect that Garth would give it a good go.

In Wayne’s World, Oliver’s changes are designed to make the programme more commercial and take it to a much wider audience, a rationale which, now I come to think of it, is often advanced when vendors shake up their own partner programmes. Of course, his plans involve a number of changes and compromises that threaten to strip the heart and soul out of the programme and blunt the edge which made it so popular with its youthful local audience in the first place.

While I’m not foolish enough to equate channel partners with the Waynes and Garths of this world and vendors with the Benjamin Olivers, there are occasions where that analogy has some credibility. Who hasn’t lived through a partner programme change that has, however unintentionally, erected new barriers between the customer and a longstanding channel partner purely because the vendor made some alterations at a higher level that it believed would make the scheme better for all involved? It happens.

Similarly, there can be a temptation to make a change for change’s sake. If you work for a vendor that has a decent sized channel operation that employs a few people, the expectation is that they’re going to have to come up with something that affects the partner ecosystem and justifies their employment otherwise why have them there? And it’s a universal truth that someone is more likely to be employed with a remit to change something than to keep them the way they are.

Whatever Garth might think about it, for many people “change is the only constant”, a phrase that originated with the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who lived around 500 years BC. I guess this gives him precedence over a comic character from a movie released in 1992.

Nevertheless, despite the relentless tinkering around the edges and overhauls that affect so many channel programmes on a yearly or six-monthly basis, I’m sure that most resellers wish that, like Wayne looking at a near-mythical Stratocaster in the guitar shop window, they could be presented with a partner programme that they could greet by uttering those immortal lines: “It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.”

But then, as Wayne remarks at another point in the film: “Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!”

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