Talks are already under way for separate Dell and EMC partners to merge following the combination of the two vendors, according to Dell EMC's EMEA channel boss, who opened up about what the merger means for partners.
Speaking to CRN at Dell EMC World in Austin, Michael Collins, senior vice president for Dell EMC's channel business in EMEA, said he advocates partners following the vendor and joining forces.
"I think it's inevitable that the channel will itself consolidate through these mergers and acquisitions - no doubt," he told CRN. "There are two partners here [in Austin] that are in discussions - and two of the global distributors are in the process already. That's consolidation. I honestly think we will see a lot of it. Is it a good thing? Absolutely."
Throughout this week, Dell EMC has talked up the benefits of merging, such as offering partners a much broader portfolio, and unveiled some information about its joint partner programme, which will launch in February.
The names of the tiers of the Dell EMC Partner Programme were unveiled on Tuesday: the lowest tier will be called Gold, moving up to Platinum and then Titanium. Within the top tier, there will be an invite-only Titanium Black section for "a small group of partners". Details of the criteria for each tier, including financial thresholds, are still being thrashed out within Dell EMC, in consultation with its top partners, ahead of a formal announcement in December.
We still value the partner who is attacking a niche market. We have to value those partners as well as big partners who are selling a shitload of PCs.
EMC rejigged its partner programme before the merger was announced, upping the financial thresholds to as high as $65m (£53m) for top-level partners, a move which upset some.
When asked if the new thresholds will be lower than the current EMC ones, Collins remained tight-lipped, but said that other factors - including customer satisfaction - could become a metric. During the event, Dell EMC gathered top partners to talk to them about the criteria they would like to see on the programme.
"One of the gems that came up for the highest tiers was customer satisfaction," he said. Put simply, if you're in a tier at that level, part of the programme is we survey your Dell EMC customers and if satisfaction is below a certain limit or NPS, it puts your programme at risk. I thought that was outstanding. All the rest is important but we have not yet had that. If it is an objective survey and it is consistent and the partners know we are testing it [it will be successful].
"Many other companies have done this in the past where customer satisfaction was part of the programme so I am quite passionate about that. It would be a nice addition to the criteria."
Philippe Fosse (pictured), who used to be EMC's EMEA channel boss and now continues in a similar role alongside Collins at Dell EMC, said that it is impossible to please all partners.
"It is never black and white; some people complain it is too high but the same people will ask you to increase the threshold for below them," he said. "I was in South Africa and on the EMC programme, if you want to be a Gold partner you must reach $4m.
"I had a partner who was doing $30m in South Africa - out of reach of the $60m to be Platinum. He asked me to increase Gold level to $20m and you can easily understand why. He was basically saying 'if I can't get to the top tier, how about I eliminating my competition?' It is never black and white and the thing is that we are listening."
Michael Dell and other Dell EMC executives have been keen throughout the event to boast about the benefits of having a broader portfolio, encouraging partners who have sold only certain products to branch out into new areas.
Fosse said that although breadth is important, specialist or smaller partners will not be frozen out by Dell EMC.
"The ideal partner is one who has the ability to sell everything but at the same time, we understand it is not possible for all the partners," he said. "We still value the partner who is attacking a niche market. We have to value those partners as well as big partners who are selling a shitload of PCs. It's two different businesses and we still want [specialist] businesses to continue."
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