Partners3 min read

Making the Right Connections for Partners

Uma Thana Balasingam
VMware connects with partners at VMware Explore Singapore

I’ve been working in the technology industry for most of my career and working with partners for the past 14 years.

Beyond the obvious changes brought on by the pandemic, I’ve observed a great shift in the way partners work together and with customers.

Nowadays it’s less about the traditional IT channel and more about a fully interconnected ecosystem. Partnerships are now more collaborative and extend far beyond a single transaction. While channel remains the industry recognised term, I prefer to use the term ecosystem to encourage this shift in perspective.

This change has come at a critical point. Today, digital transformation is front-of-mind for more businesses than ever. A recent Forbes report found that globally 64% of CIOs have seen an increase in the importance of technology-related matters during board and executive staff meetings. Cloud computing is at the heart of this shift. In Asia-Pacific, 81% of CIOs say their businesses are deployed across more than one cloud platform.

Customers are looking to partners to guide them through every step of these modernisation journeys – from buying and selling, to growth, service and beyond.

Enabling Service Offerings

To keep up with fast-moving market and economic trends, partners are now bringing their own unique sets of services and IP and delivering them to customers in a flexible way.

New business models are emerging as partners figure out how their model works in an ‘as a service’ world. They’re pivoting to a focus on customer-for-life value rather than individual transactions. While our partner ecosystem has spent years undergoing significant changes, this has given rise to some amazing examples of co-innovation and collaboration.

Last year, I visited Japan to meet some of our partners, and I asked where they saw the opportunity over the next two to three years. We talked about the increased demand for managed services, market shifts, and increased capability sophistication. And similar forecasts came up in discussions throughout the year, including with partners at VMware Explore events in San Francisco and Singapore.

Connecting with VMware Partner, Sunfire Technologies and customer, Chitale Dairy at VMware Explore Singapore

However, there’s one topic that was near the top of many agendas: increased demand for as-a-service models.

Outcome as a Service

More and more customers are asking for ‘outcome as a service’ as they shift toward consumption-driven, as-a-service solutions.

We’re seeing an influx of resources and partners moving into customer success practices, so they’re better positioned to help customers make the most of cloud, SaaS, and subscription offerings.

We’re also seeing an uptick in data sovereignty needs among partners, as they look to help customers engage with trusted national cloud service providers to meet these requirements. At VMware, we recently announced expanded partnerships with Wipro and HPE, and an extension of Sovereign Cloud partnerships to expand the reach and value of our ecosystem; the number of VMware Sovereign Cloud providers has more than doubled to 35 partners globally in the past year.

All these conversations are what led to the evolution of VMware’s Partner Connect program. We’ve been collecting observations and feedback from partners around Asia Pacific over the past two years to re-design and re-evaluate our approach to partnerships. 

That’s why our evolved Partner Connect program, which was announced in August 2022 and went live this week, is partner-first, customer-led, and outcomes driven. 

Connecting Partners to Each Other

As we change how we connect with partners, it’s also important that partners connect with each other.

Navigating modern market dynamics and capturing opportunities provided by the cloud economy requires an interconnected network, one that enables success for all types of partners.

Globally, at least 30% of our projects require more than two partners to work together. This can be challenging for some businesses to manage without external support and overarching coordination, so by bridging these connections for our partners, we’re seeing higher end-value for customers that goes far beyond any transaction.

And it’s not just about the dollar value anymore for customers, either. Whether I’m speaking to a growing enterprise or a larger, established company, ‘talent’ and ‘having deep expertise in all areas’ come up again and again.

The future of partnerships is going to hinge on how ecosystems come together, to complement one another to deliver customer outcomes and make long-lasting impact.