What has Node4 got in store for its technology partners in the coming months? What can new partners expect, when working with us? These were just a few of the topics we covered in a recent interview, when I sat down with Tom Allen who heads up our partner markets team.
Q: Tom, great to have you leading the partner sales team now. But even though this is a new role, you're not new to Node4 are you?
A: No, absolutely not. You interviewed me back in November 2006 when I was straight out of university, in my first proper job at Node4.
Q: I suppose before you had this role, you were always involved in some sort of engagement with our partners?
A: Yes, I’ve had a lot of exposure to them. My early success when I started taking on accounts, a year and a half into the role, was largely through partners.
And it's really good to see some of those partners still with us today. Some started out with a quarter rack, have now got six or seven racks throughout our data centre estate, and are using our cloud platform.
Q: Now you’re in this new role and you’ve got all this experience behind you, what are the main objectives that you’re looking to achieve?
A: Our approach is to always be a trusted provider and help the partner’s business grow. We work to understand their needs and challenges, and then provide solutions to help overcome those challenges.
And I think one thing that's really important is that we understand our partners. We look at their strengths, their niches, their level of expertise and in what areas, and then we work with them to complement those areas.
There are partners where, on the face of it, we compete in certain areas. So that's the bit that we step back from. Instead we look at the areas where we would complement their offering, which create further revenue streams, and gets them stickier and happier customers. Through that success, we’ll grow together.
Q: How can we help a partner be successful?
A: It starts with partner engagement. As I said before, it's really about understanding their business, but also understanding their end users and the sectors they're in.
It’s about taking knowledge from our commercial teams and saying, well, okay, we can see that this customer in this sector is having certain challenges, and this is how we overcame it.
Then relay that information to our partners, so that they can continue to grow and benefit from our experience.
Q: How do we engage with new partners initially?
A: Something we're looking at moment is mapping out the partner journey. We’re looking at a funnel where you've got new prospects at the top and our fully engaged, happy partners at the bottom.
With recruiting new partners, it’s all around the actual messaging of ‘who is Node4?’, ‘why would you want to work with Node4?’ and ‘what are the advantages of that?’ It’s not really focused around the portfolio, which is quite broad and appealing to a lot of partners, but it's about helping them understand who we are as a business.
We talk about our culture, Exceptional Service as a Standard (ESaaS), and how that filters through to all of our interactions and makes our partners happier.
Q: How are we going to help existing partners grow?
A: We’re looking at more we can offer around training. Internally, we have the Node4 Academy, so we’re considering whether we can replicate something like that for our partners.
Another area is the alignment of various teams, from customer services, service delivery managers, right the way through to peer-to-peer marketing contacts.
Our marketing team can help with partner marketing initiatives and help set up events for them. We even invite partners to use our facilities to host their own events, where we can provide guest speakers on topics such as SD-WAN or cloud transformation.
Q: Are there any technologies that seem to be more prevalent in discussions with partners?
A: This is largely led by end users. We're very much seeing that transformational journey from on premises or data centre hosting, to looking at where workloads sit best. Is it on an ISaaS platform? Is it in the hyperscaler clouds, be it AWS or Azure?
We're able to take partners and their end users on that journey, whichever direction they want to go, and support them throughout that cycle.
Q: With the drive towards remote working, SD-WAN technology lends itself to that, as well as Windows Virtual Desktop. Perhaps our greatest strength is that we've got this broad technology understanding to plug in the gaps?
A: Yeah absolutely. Events around the globe have really brought to the fore homeworking. This raises questions not only around connectivity, but security.
We've seen a lot of cases of hackers trying to use this broader attack spectrum of homeworkers to get to get into organisations and maliciously take data.
The whole Secure SD-WAN piece is certainly going to be a big part of what we do with partners over the next 18 months and beyond.
It is a buzz word out there, but we've had a lot of success with it. What we’re trying to do is demystify the buzz word and start educating our partners, letting them know that we've got a really strong offering that they can lean on and deliver to their end users.
Q: Now you're in this role, what are the top three things that you're looking to achieve in the next 12 months?
A: Remaining really close to our partners
Obviously, we are going through some very strange and difficult times at the moment. And I think that our partners will remember that, as we try and get back to some sort of normalcy.
It really is about being close to them and understanding their business and how we can actually help them, not only from a technology perspective, but in all the other areas such as training, education and market insight.
Developing our products, solutions, technology and expertise
We've never stood still as a business. We've never just swam in a single lane. We're very much listening to what's going on in the marketplace and then trying to pivot to what the demand is.
Making sure our partners succeed
It’s not just about success with our products and services, and taking a leadership role with these technologies. It’s also around our marketing approach, how we can help partners with running campaigns and events.
Ultimately, we want to engage with our partners, so that they grow their revenue streams and have happier, stickier customers, because then we'll mutually benefit from that.
Interested in working with Node4? Find out more about what we can offer partner markets