Channel partners will be at the front of the line as Salesforce merges forward with new business opportunities, according to Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, senior vice president of partner programmes. But with the way partner roles are developing, these partners may not adhere to traditional channel categories.
During this week's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco, Salesforce COO Keith Block pointed out that CEOs are often asking Salesforce which channel partners it should work with, showing the importance the channel has in Salesforce's business.
And as Salesforce continues to grow and seeks new opportunities, its channel will be at the forefront, according to Taychakhoonavudh.
"I do think as Salesforce gets a more global footprint and as we go into some of the emerging markets where our own presence is not as extensive, that partners, whether they be resellers or VARs or any other type [of partner], they will become the front line of everything we do as well. I think we'll see that trend in the coming five years."
During the Dreamforce event, Salesforce also announced changes to its Salesforce Partner Programme, including new enablement programmes aimed at accelerating app development around Salesforce.
And while this announcement is most obviously applicable to Salesforce ISV partners, who have been redubbed App Innovation Partners, Taychakhoonavudh points out that the line between ISVs and other types of channel partners is becoming less defined.
"I think the different partners do collaborate together, but also that line between what a partner classically or historically did is changing because as they sit down with a client and brainstorm about the clients' vision, say around digital transformation, that vision is also very different than how we used to work with clients - even 10 years ago," she explained.
"It includes much more lines of business. The whole world is changing, and I think that both the roles that partners have had and clients' expectations...are blurring [considerably]. Partners...say 'wow, we didn't think five years ago we'd be doing this kind of work, but that's what the client's asked for, so that's where we're going'."
Even the introduction of Salesforce DX, which Salesforce describes as a "new developer experience" that enables faster app development through features like scratch environments and an updated integrated development environment, has benefits for non-developer partners, according to Taychakhoonavudh, who says it "helps all partners".
"If you're delivering services, if you do custom development, you can deliver your product to your client in a much more collaborative manner in a modern development environment," she said. "So that's great for professional developers at consulting firms. It's great for professional developers working at some of our App Innovation Partners...and it's also great for anyone who's wrapping additional service and solutions around the Salesforce product line."
Further, partners looking to monetise in a more repeatable manner are moving into the app development space.
"We've seen over the past couple of years...it's hard to categorise a partner, being that partners have a whole bunch of different tools and skills within their toolkit that they use at the appropriate time," Taychakhoonavudh said. "They can create various templates or configurations that can help get a potential client started a lot faster, so that takes them along the path of being an App Innovation Partner."
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