"Underperformance is no longer an option." Chilling words from Anthony O'Mara, Trend Micro EMEA senior vice president, in the context of what the vendor expects from its channel partners going forward.
He hits the nail on the head when he describes most vendor partner programmes as "nothing more than a restrictive table of discounts" which much of the channel has responded to by adopting "coping strategies, rather than engagement strategies".
The new Trend Micro partner programme, he continues, is set to "challenge and reward both our commitment to the channel and the channel's commitment to Trend Micro as a vendor". Nothing to disagree with there, especially as it's a statement that could be applied by any vendor to any partner programme. I doubt there are any programmes that don't reward the channel for commitment to the vendor or programmes that reward channel partners for not showing commitment to the vendor.
Anyhow, O'Mara is specifically referring to the weakness of some partners in serving the emerging market of delivering security through a hosted approach. What he fails to address is whether partners may not be quite as gung-ho as Trend Micro would like because their customers aren't on board yet either. We don't know. While there is a requirement for channel partners to help vendors promote their products and their strategy, they also need to reflect the demands of their customers.
Whatever happens, I suspect the partners who end up being invited to leave the partner programme will be probably be those who are less enthusiastic about Trend Micro irrespective of whether they adopt hosted models or not. And I also suspect that there may well be instances where certain partners are kept on board even if they are not exactly shouting the Trend Micro message from the rooftops because it will be in the vendor's interest to engage with them and, hopefully, their customers.
It's all down to how you define that word "commitment".
This was first published in October 2011