The duo behind a new platform designed to provide a LinkedIn-style community tailored to IT vendors, ISVs, VARs, MSPs and consultancies say they want to eventually attract 120,000 members.
Since launching last summer, Channeliser has signed up 2,700 members and now has 15 customers, including ERP giant SAP, videoconferencing vendor BlueJeans and business headset vendor Avalle, as well as distributor Westcon.
Channeliser was dreamed up by Jacqui Rand and Anne Lambton, who set up a channel consultancy in 2011 after working together at Microsoft in the noughties.
"We found that there was no single source to find, recruit and engage with partners, which is why we developed Channeliser from scratch," Rand told CRN.
Channeliser aims to go well beyond the traditional vendor partner portals that push information to partners, while also providing a more tailored forum for IT firms than existing social networking platforms such as LinkedIn. It is free to search and for firms to list their services, with members paying to set up their own communities on the platform.
"It's like LinkedIn, but it's for the IT industry," explained Rand. "There's no clutter. All the content is relevant and the people on there are genuinely looking for IT business partnerships because we curate the membership. Another difference is that Channeliser is all about companies, whereas on LinkedIn if you leave a company you take all the connections with you. Also, when you have a group on LinkedIn and you post something, it's a forum, whereas on Channeliser there is a lot more content types and interactions and engagements."
The platform can be used by vendors to build relations with their partner community, and also for peer-to-peer alliances, Rand explained.
A lot has been made of how millennials are fuelling a rise in the so-called sharing economy and the success of the likes of Airbnb and Uber.
Lambton agreed that younger employees who have recently entered the workforce want to conduct business in a different fashion.
"A lot of the vendors have lost sight of the new way of doing business, and it is our belief as the millennials start coming through that the use of social platforms is only going to increase," she said. "The days of people logging onto a website that is just pushing information are long gone. The millennials are used to sharing - that's just how they live, and I think Channeliser satisfies that."
Channeliser's initial aim was to recruit 5,000 members by the end of 2016, but Rand admitted that vetting the site's membership had proved trickier than first envisaged.
"We only want members that are IT companies, and that profile themselves," she said. "So we are working with our customers to do the membership acquisition element. Everyone needs to genuinely be there to find partnership.
"We believe that we need to get to probably about 15 per cent of the global IT industry, so that every time anyone does a search it yields a useful result," she said. "I reckon there are something in the region of 800,000 IT firms globally. We are not there yet. We curate the people who come in, and we want to make sure that it's a valuable community, so we don't expect to get [to 120,000 members] next year."
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