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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Bringing Web 2.0 to the Channel

Elay Cohen, Vice President, Salesforce.com

To drive unprecedented levels of stickiness in their partnerships, vendors are looking for ways to further differentiate their programs, while channel partners are asking for more collaboration, more feedback and more process alignment. And this is where Web 2.0 can satisfy channel demand by allowing vendors to interact, exchange and share inf ormation with partners to build better relationships and increase revenue.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Introduction Web 2.0 describes the changing trends in the use of Web technology and web design that aim to enhance creativity, secure information sharing, collaboration and functionality of the web. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs and folksonomies. Source - Wikipedia

In the consumer world, it is widely accepted Web 2.0 has changed the way companies are communicating with their customers. For example technology used by Google, Yahoo, iTunes, eBay and amazon.com has transformed their businesses and customer behaviour. These applications are used on a day- to- day basis yet there is no training required by consumers to use this technology to interact and transact with these brands. It is now time for IT vendors to apply some of the key lessons from the B2C world to improve and facilitate better communication and collaboration with partners. All of this is in the name of developing more meaningful and profitable relationships for both sides. Vendors are struggling to implement successful channel programs to gain mindshare with their partners. These challenges include: • Poor pipeline visibility • Low forecast accuracy • Information silos • Duplicate data entry • No single point of truth • Low partner portal adoption However, by understanding the opportunity Web 2.0 offers, vendors can overcome these challenges and implement best practices into their channel program to drive their businesses forward and be more intimate with their partners . This whitepaper will delve into three key areas of learning:

• • •

What are examples of Web 2.0? What does Web 2.0 mean to channel sales, marketing and account managers? How can Web 2.0 be applied to improve the channel?

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

1. Examples of Web 2.0 The following section will outline some examples of Web 2.0 technologies prominent in the consumer world. Figure 1: Example of some consumer web platforms

Search One of the best known Web 2.0 brands today is Google. Think about how easy it is to search and find inf ormation on the web using Google. From the illustration below, it is easy to see rankings, descriptions, links – everything is working the way it should work. Consumers go to www.google.com and enter in a word or phrase and the Google search engine returns results that match the search criteria. Figure 2: Diagram of Google

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Google is so popular and pervasive that Google has become synonymous with the word search. Google’s popularity is driven by the fact its search engine is useful, usable and relevant. Is it just as easy for channel partners to search and find information on vendor websites, extranets and portals? Can a channel partner find all the relevant information about a specific issue within a program? Is all the detail there relevant to their sales process? Trusted Buying Environment Amazon.com is an example of a best practice Web 2.0 ecommerce experience. The Amazon.com site is easy to navigate and it’s easy to find a specific product. Furthermore, the site provides detailed product information and recommendations. It encourages buyers to interact and purchase. The website recognizes the user and knows the customer behavior and profile. Using historical customer behavior, Amazon is able to provide recommendations to customers about other prospective products they could purchase. So again thinking about how a consumer brand has used Web 2.0 concepts, channel executives can take this best practice and apply it to their channel programs. Each time a partner logs into a vendor portal or extranet, it could show them what they have purchased previously from their Point of Sales (POS) information and then suggest other products they can cross- sell or add to the customer solution. This is one of the holy grails of channel management.

Another learning to take from Amazon is RSS feeds. Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds help vendors publish and syndicate information to their customers by giving users ability to subscribe to information they are interested in. So if a vendor has a new product launch, the RSS feed would push out the information to the subscribers, without them having to come to the website to find this information. RSS feeds are able to communicate changes, updates and developments without users actively searching. Furthermore, Amazon has managed to elevate its website from a buying environment to a trusted community environment. By adding ratings and seller profiles, it encourages its customers to rate and post information about other members. These same best practices can be added to a B2B vendor portal, where partners are encouraged to provide a profile of their key services and expertise and customers can leave recommendations about their buying experience.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Mash-Ups The term mash- up being used to describe a web- application which occurs when two or more web applications are mashed- up to create a third more powerful user experience. This truly creates an equation that results in 1 + 1 = 3. For example, for Amazon’s tracking service to know the status of deliveries, it uses UPS’ system to present one view for the customer. Google maps can add local information showing the user all the facilities available.

Figure 3: Example of a mash-up

Vendors can use mash- up technology to show where their partners are geographically based, giving personalized information services to prospective customers. Web 2.0 provides the tools to allow customers to interact and find information about prospective partners. Mash- ups take generic flat partner finders and bring them to life with mash- up integrations to mapping, credit references, data enrichments and more. Blogs The popularity of blogs continues to explode. Although blogs were originally a consumer phenomena, companies now regularly use blogs as a means of communicating directly with their customers. Likewise, vendor channel organizations should leverage blogs to communicate regularly with their partners. Blogs allow a vendor to present a personality and face to their partners to improve relationships. And blogs aren’t always a one way communication - readers can provide comments on what is being said on the blog. This allows for a dialog - a two way communication - between the vendor and the partner. Blogs create a meaningful and interactive way to communicate with customers and partners .

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Terms such as search, mash- ups, and RSS have typically been used by developers and technical people in IT departments but channel executives need to be aware of what these technologies are and how can they be integrated into their channel programs and strategy. Web 2.0 technology enables a partner’s digital experience to be richer and more interactive - it is imperative these elements are leveraged into an overall channel strategy. With the fight for mindshare among partners incredibly fierce, vendors that use more innovative tools to communicate and develop relationships will stand out from the rest of the competition.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

2. Applying Web 2.0 to the Channel The following are five key best practice and tools vendors can incorporate into their overall channel strategy to bring Web 2.0 to the channel – today. 1) Content Syndication and Subscriptions The problem is information and content – such as sales tools, training guides, program guides, competitive briefs, product specifications, PowerPoint presentations, pricing guides and price lists – is unstructured. Research by Merrill Lynch and IDC has shown 85 per cent of business information found on the internet is unstructured. It is accepted that information is unlabelled and difficult to find, resulting in a frustrating experience for partners. According to Forrester Research, only 44 per cent of business users can find what they are looking for on their corporate intranet and yet 87 per cent of people can find what they are looking for on the internet. Vendors need to develop systems and processes that leverage lessons learned from the consumer world so partners can find relevant information. If partners can’t find information they are looking for, they are unable to sell products correctly. Content dissemination and intelligent content publishing should be smart and easy to use for the partners, which in turn will drive increased loyalty to unprecedented levels. Here are some questions to ask about the company’s content repository: • • • • •

Is it as easy to use as Google? Can information be found as quickly on partner portals as on Amazon? Is the content leveraging tagging? Can partners give feedback on content? Is it known which content partners find most useful?

An intelligent content publishing system must include the ability to tag content – where multiple tags can be added to an individual document. This means partners can find information using terms applicable to them, not to the vendor. It also means partners don’t need to know exactly where content is located - they don’t need to worry about navigating a folder hierarchy - they just need to know what terms describe the type of content they need. For example, let’s say a vendor has uploaded a training guide that is also a competitive training tool and an RFP tool. Let’s also say this document is for the insurance industry sector. On a traditional portal, the partner would need to figure out if this document is under the RFP section of the portal, the competitive analysis section of the portal, the industry verticals section of the portal, etc. With a Web 2.0 based content system, the document would be tagged with all these relevant attributes - the location doesn’t matter. So when a partner comes to the portal looking for a competitive sales tool for the insurance industry, they search for appropriate tags and the most relevant information is shown. © Baptie and Company 2008

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Furthermore, tag clouds (see left) make it easier for partners to find the information they want . A tag cloud uses labels of different sizes to identify the most popular documents partners are looking at; larger labels means there is more content, smaller labels mean less content . The labeling system allows partners to see the full context of all content in a visual experience. Another criticism by partners is failure by vendors to keep content valid and up- todate. Any content that has expired or is no longer valid should be changed or taken off the website. It is best practice to have expiry dates for when content has expired or needs to be changed. There are content publishing systems that have automated alerts to identify old content and when it should be changed, amended or deleted. Using traditional methods of content publishing with real life deadlines is something all vendors should incorporate into their channel programs. Vendor websites also need to have the ability for partners to subscribe to content feeds or RSS feeds. Partners should be given the opportunity to subscribe to the information they need when they want it. RSS feeds should permeate the company’s website. In a Web 2.0 world, one of the key tenants is interaction. The industry has moved from brochure - ware to allowing partners to interact and communicate with the owners of the websites. Vendors should allow their partners to rate and add comments about documents. This provides information to channel marketers in real time regarding issues their channel is thinking about, unleashing a wealth of business information. It also lets channel marketers know which content their partners find most useful so they can optimize where they spend their time and money. .

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Figure 4: Example of a partner portal with Web 2.0 look and feel

The image above shows a content homepage. A partner can see the different high level areas of content available eg: competitive tools, reseller’s sales tools, etc. The homepage also displays featured top content the vendor wants to call attention to. Finally, a tag cloud displays tags most commonly used to classify information. By clicking on a specific tag in the tag cloud, the partner is presented with a filtered list of relevant documents.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Figure 5: Another example of a partner portal with Web 2.0 look and feel

If a partner drills into a particular piece of content, there are even more options to help the partner decide whether it’s the right content for them. The partner can see how the document has been rated by other partners, see the tags used to classify the document , and comment on changes they would like made to it. Partners can even preview the document so there is no need to download it. Partners can also subscribe to the document so they are notified via email whenever it is updated that way they always have the latest and greatest content. This Web 2.0 technology drives content syndication and makes it easier for partners to drive their user experience with the vendor. Web 2.0 technology greatly simplifies and improves the content distribution process for both channel marketers and partners. It provides partners with a better user experience that in turn makes them more efficient and drives partner loyalty. Channel marketers should turn content dissemination on its head and think about what partners really need. What information do partners want and how do they want to find it? All content must be made more visible to partners.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

2) Wisdom of Crowds – Collecting Feedback from Partners Traditionally vendors have attempted to get feedback from their partners via advisory boards, surveys, email and word of mouth. However partners are choosing to ignore these methods because they think it is a waste of time - they don’t believe vendors will actually listen to their views.

SUGGEST

VOTE

DISCUSS

In the Web 2.0 world, vendors need the ability and tools to collect feedback in a realtime environment. By empowering partners to feel like they are driving the agenda and able to make changes in channel programs, partners will be more inclined to work closely with vendors. This can be achieved by creating interactive online communities where partners are able to provide vendors with feedback on their partner program. Partners should be able to suggest new ideas, vote on new ideas, and discuss these new ideas in an environment they don’t feel will be used against them. Vendors will then be able to make real- life decisions that affect their partner programs . Don’t be afraid to give partners a voice. Vendors need partners to get behind their channel programs. Vendors need to work with partners to improve programs because if competitors’ programs are better partners will push their product.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Figure 6: Example of how a community forum within a partner portal could look

This example above shows the partner a list of hot topics other partners are discussing. Partners can also view a ranking of ideas and topics being discussed - the ranking is based on the topic s partners have voted on. The more votes a topic gets, the more important it is to the partner community. This gives vendors an instant dashboard of what partners are thinking about and what changes partners would like to see included in the channel program. If a partner suggests an idea but other partners fail to vote for it, vendors can be assured this is a one- off issue. Vendors should incorporate this level of interaction and community into their channel systems by leveraging tools available today. These tools will help increase the stickiness of the website and build better relationships with partners. They will also help improve and differentiate a program over the long run.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

In order to have a successful and active partner community, it is worth bearing in mind these six community management best practices: 1) Market the community: Raise awareness by sending an email to partners telling them about the community. Promote the community across the partner portal. 2) Monitor the community : Respond to partner suggestions and engage with the community. Provide vendor comments to let partners know they are being listened to. 3) Don’t police it: A llow partners to say what they want about the programs – this is good feedback that vendors should listen to. Don’t delete bad suggestions. 4) Maintain executive sponsorship : Get the channel chief on board with the community. 5) Deliver the top ideas: Give feedback and raise awareness within the company and the community about the top ideas. Don’t let the good ideas be ignored. If the ideas partners ask for are not delivered on, they’ll stop providing feedback. 6) Communicate results back to the community : Always tell the community what is happening - what ideas have been delivered, which ideas are being considered, etc - to make them feel empowered and part of the community. 3) Mash-Up of Data Visualization There is a tendency to overuse spreadsheets and pivot tables to manipulate data in order to track channel performance. Channel managers often get their data from many disparate sourc es such as data warehouses, business applications and excel files which they then have to consolidate into spreadsheets to get a complete view of the channel. Channel account managers (CAMs) are trying to use this data to help them make business decisions, but this data is very hard to work with. As previously described, a mash- up is a web-application that combines multiple data sources and applications into a single integrated interface. By applying the concept of a mash-up to disparate channel data sources, new solutions can be developed that will give the channel greater insight into their business. Mash- ups allow for combination of multiple data extracts (eg: excel spreadsheets, pivot tables, etc) and show the data graphically to CAMs and partners. These graphical representations make it easier for channel managers to interpret the data and make conclusions. There are several examples of mash- ups that can be used in the channel. For example, view partner locations on a map rather than in a table forma t to give information about the channel coverage model. Or show POS data on a map that highlights the vendor’s coverage by region by active sales. Sales data can be mashed- up with social networks - combine contact information on a sales lead with LinkedIn to show a partner sales rep if they have a relationship with anyone that knows the prospect.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Below is an example where distributor data has been combined with mapping information to give the vendor an interactive and user friendly representation of their distributor network. By clicking on a particular distributor on the map, the vendor can drill down to get more details about the distributor such as contact details, campaign history, sales performance, etc. Figure7: Example of data visualization mashup

By combining various data sources with the best of the web, channel managers will have new and insightful ways of managing and measuring their business.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

4) P2P Communities One of the hottest topics in the channel space is partner to partner (P2P) collaboration. There is extensive research available that says partners want the ability to collaborate more effectively with each other to help service global customers. Traditionally P2P collaboration has been carried out on an ad- hoc basis through various methods such as personal contacts, customer referrals, vendor account managers , and even Google searches. But increasingly partners are looking to have the tools to collaborate themselves, without CAMs getting involved. In the consumer world, there are examples of social networks such as Linkedin and Facebook that allow people to find other like- minded people and share contact details, photos, etc to take the relationship further. In the channel business world, P2P directories are becoming the norm for connecting partners with each other. Vendors should allow partners to find, invite, and share information and data with each other thereby empowering them to easily form partnerships. If implementing a P2P directory, consider how partners want to find other partners – what are the key attributes needed to find prospective partners? Is it certifications, company type, specializations, location, etc? Figure 8: Example of a partner to partner directory

A P2P directory is a compelling reason for partners to visit a particular vendor’s website. It creates stickiness, builds loyalty and differentiates the portal over a competitor’s portal.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Below is an example of how a partner can view other’s partner profiles in order to identify the companies they want to collaborate with. There is the ability to see profile details, contact, or connect with another partner. Figure 9: Another example of a partner to partner directory

It is also important for partners to rate each other after they have collaborated. A ratings system helps build more meaningful relationships and creates incentives for partners to deliver customer success. P2P directories have to allow partners to: • • • •

Find each other Rate each other Contact each other Connect with each other

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Here is an example of the level of information a P2P directory should show about a particular partner Figure 10: Example of information contained in a P2P directory

For a partner directory to succeed, it needs to have the most up-to- date profile information on the partners in the community. Therefore, a directory needs to have the capacity for partners to self- administer and update their profile information - it won’t scale if the vendor needs to do all the administration. Providing partners with a platform for collaboration drives partner loyalty, making partners more effective and drives new business. Š Baptie and Company 2008

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

5) CRM to CRM One of the challenges in using a website and portal to collaborate with partners is partner adoption. Partners work with many vendors and often have their own CRM applications to manage their business. Partners end up having to enter information in multiple places - vendors’ systems and their own systems . What if vendors and partners could integrate their systems to collaborate more closely? What if vendors could pass data directly into resellers’ CRM systems and get real-time status updates? This level of integration would truly drive collaboration and adoption. Unfortunately, it is expensive, time consuming and complex to implement this level of integration and collaboration with partners. The challenge of integrating vendor systems with partner systems is compounded by different platforms, infrastructures, standards and IT teams.

B2B integration infrastructure has cost companies $3 billion in 2006, according to IDC

In contrast, consumer world applications such as Facebook make it easy for users to network together to share information. An untrained Facebook user can share a contact or a photo with thousands of people in just a few clicks. Why can’t sharing information in the business world be this easy? Why can’t a vendor pass thousands of leads to their partners ’ CRM systems with just a few clicks? The good news is that Web 2.0 technology can make this type of integration easy and affordable for the business world. Vendors want to empower partners to work closely with them, as well as give partners the ability to integrate with other types of partners. The goal is true business process integration with partners —sea mlessly sharing leads, deals, opportunities, MDF, and business plans with partners in a few clicks. Making it easy for vendors to integrate their CRM systems with partners is critical and will drive success, but the integration needs to be secure and confidential. Vendors and partners need to define the rules of engagement to decide what should and shouldn’t be shared.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Figure 11: Example of what a CRM system could look li ke

Web 2.0 technology raises the real prospect of giving partners one log- in to manage all partner programs, so they only have one place to enter all information for all vendors they work with. Partners can manage their campaigns, leads, accounts and opportunities as well as view reports, dashboards and forecasts across all their vendors through one application.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

Conclusion Web 2.0 is widely accepted on the consumer internet it is now time for IT vendors to embrace this technology. Vendors can drive more business and differentiate their partner programs by incorporating these five Web 2.0 best practices into their overall channel strategy: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

Content syndication and subscriptions Wisdom of crowds Mash- up data visualisations P2P communities CRM to CRM

By empowering partners to interact, share and collaborate among themselves and with vendors, Web 2.0 technologies allow vendors to build closer and more loyal relationships with their partners. Furthermore, Web 2.0 allows vendors to learn and quickly adapt their channel programs to drive more business, gain valuable business intelligence and know what their partners really want.

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

About the Author Elay Cohen, Vice President of Products, Salesforce.com With more than 12 years’ experience in technology and channels, Elay is a leader and innovator in the discipline of channel management. With his unique blend of real life channel experience and technology, Elay lead the team that brought channel management solutions including the channel manage r desktop and the partner portal to Salesforce.com customers. Elay continues to bring innovation to the channel. Most recently, a new channel service, salesforce to salesforce coined the “facebook of the enterprise” by CNN Money and recognized as the holy grail of partner relationship management, was developed for the channel. Prior to joining Salesforce.com, Elay held sales, marketing, and product management positions at Allegis, Maritz, and Oracle. Across all three companies, Elay worked with companies to drive improvements and automation in the channel. He has a Bachelor of Arts in political science and history, specializing in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business. Contact Details: Elay Cohen: ecohen@salesforce.com +1 415 518 6732

About Salesforce.com Salesforce.com is the market and technology leader in Software-as- a- Service (SaaS) and Platform- as a- Service (PaaS). The company's portfolio of SaaS applications, including its award - winning CRM application, available at http://www.salesforce.com/products/, has revolutionized the ways customers manage and share business information over the Internet. The company’s Force.com PaaS enables customers, developers and partners to build powerful on- demand applications that deliver the benefits of multi-tenancy across the enterprise. Applications built on the Force.com platform, available at http://www.force.com, can be easily shared, exc hanged and installed with a few simple clicks via salesforce.com's AppExchange marketplace available at http://www.salesforce.com/appexchange As of January 31, 2008, Salesforce.com manages customer information for approximately 41,000 customers including ABN AMRO, Dow Jones Newswires, Japan Post, Kaiser Permanente, KONE, Sprint Nextel and SunTrust Banks. Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase Salesforce.com applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce.com has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "CRM".

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Web 2.0 for the Channel Elay Cohen, Salesforce.com

For more information please visit http://www.salesforce.com or call 1- 800- NOSOFTWARE.

What Did You Think of This Whitepaper? Did you agree with the author? Has this enriched your understanding of the subject? You can discuss this article, as well as wider issues on our discussion groups to get instant feedback and interact with your peers. Go to https://www.baptie.com/forums/ The Baptie Online Community allows its members to talk to one another via its private messaging system to share knowledge and experience about business is sues. Email the presenter by accessing their details on www.baptie.com If you have any other comments, contact Lisa Barnett (lbarnett@baptie.com) - +44 20 7250 0100

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Bringing Web 2.0 to the channel