CRN Exclusive: K2 Software Looks To Ramp Up Channel Push With New Partner Program

As K2 Software looks to revamp its approach to partners under new channel leadership, the business process application company has launched a new partner program with new incentives and investments in the channel, the company said Wednesday.

The K2 Ascend Partner Program, which went live Jan. 1, has three programs within it, each with traditional tiering. The tiers include a referral program for deal referrals, a VAR program for co-selling and value-add partners, and a delivery program for partners who purely want to offer services around the company's offerings.

Each tier includes incentives, deal registration, training, curriculums and certifications, although the VAR and delivery partners have more specific requirements for their programs.

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The launch comes less than a year after the hiring of channel chief Tom Evans, who joined the company as vice president, global channels and alliances in April 2016 from ForeScout Technologies. Evans said he has taken the past few months to talk to partners and get feedback on what changes they would like to see in the new program. The result, he said in an interview with CRN, is a program that focuses on transparency, enablement and profitability.

"K2 has always been a channel company. There was just a need to evolve that into the next step," Evans said. "That's where we're taking this now [with the new program]."

Tom Hoglund, vice president, digital workplace at Seattle-based Avanade, said the new program is "great for us," as it drives a more strategic relationship with K2, shifting from being a product provider to going to market hand-in-hand.

"We're excited that they're putting more emphasis on the partner relationships and recognizing that it's the most important channel for them to get to market," Hoglund said. "With the new program, I think they have really done a good job of putting partners first and defining the ways we work together," he said, citing new training and rules of engagement rules as examples.

While K2 drove "record numbers through the channel" in 2016, Evans said the percentage of business driven through the channel – currently around 50 percent – dropped slightly year over year in 2016, due to some deals that went direct and some partner turnover. Evans said he expects the new program to drive more business through partners, ultimately hoping to push toward a 100 percent channel model.

The new program will allow the Bellevue, Wash.-based company to double down on its partners across all three tiers, focusing on those that are strategic and have made investments in partnering with the vendor, according to Evans. K2 will selectively recruit partners under the new program, he said, but is not aggressively looking to expand its partner base and is instead looking to drive more revenue through fewer, more strategic partners.

As the program gets under way, Evans said K2 plans to continue investing in the channel, including a relaunch of the partner portal and investments in internal systems, marketing, MDF and inside sales incentives for demand generation.

"We were able to listen to what partners wanted [with this program ] ... and changed it to be aligned with what they wanted," Evans said. "I'm really excited about this coming out and now we're ready to get going." 

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