The world's largest privately held software firm, SAS, is moving from a direct-only to a mixed-channel model in a bid to compete in the big data world.
The analytics giant has already lined up its first two UK partners – Computacenter and SCC – as it looks to lean on the channel's relationships with the CIOs who control big data purchasing decisions.
With revenue of nearly $3bn (£1.8bn), SAS made its name directly supplying the government and banking sectors, which tend to have the biggest and most complex data sets. More than 27 per cent of its 12,500 staff have PhDs.
But the vendor is now embracing a "multi-threaded" go-to-market approach as it looks to boost uptake of its new big data offering, Visual Analytics, Richard Bradbury, alliance director, SAS UK and Ireland confirmed.
"We need to take advantage of [resellers'] relationships with CIOs as in the big data world the CIO has great influence of the overall data management of the company," he said.
"Last year I don't believe a single one of our products was sold through a third party. Moving forward, we need to have a good balance between a direct and indirect model."
Partnerships with Computacenter and SCC will be signed in the coming weeks, while a global relationship with distributor Arrow has also been inked, Bradbury said.
He heads a newly formed alliances team but said SAS' strategy shift is about more than just adding channel-facing personnel. Changes have been made to its legal and licensing process, pre-sales, sales compensation and marketing strategy, Bradbury revealed.
"For a 37-year-old company that has always done business one-dimensionally, a lot of change is needed if you're moving to a multi-threaded route to market," he said.
As well as VARs, SAS is looking to recruit vertical solution providers that embed their technology into a joint vertical proposition.
Technology partnerships with the likes of SAP, Oracle and Hadoop providers are also in the works, Bradbury said, while the firm is also looking to add more systems integrators to boost its delivery capability.
"The delivery piece is as important as sales because the biggest issue in the big data world right now is getting people with the right analytics skills," he said.
Bradbury refused to divulge any targets for how SAS' direct-indirect revenue split may change, saying only that the vendor is aiming for a "balanced go-to-market strategy".
"The saleforce been positively incentivised to work with channel. We don't anticipate any channel conflict," he said.
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