Google Cloud is ramping up efforts to enhance partner specialisation levels in response to increased customer demand for tailored solutions and expertise.
The channel call to action prioritises depth over breadth in the pursuit of priority verticals and offerings, with partners set to be rewarded through a pipeline of customer opportunities.
For Google Cloud, this isn’t a case of ‘build it and they will come’, rather that customers are ready, it’s now time for the channel to capitalise.
“It’s as simple as a heat map,” explained Ash Willis, head of cloud partners and alliances across Asia Pacific and Japan at Google Cloud. “There’s demand for this solution in this vertical so what’s our coverage plan? Partners can take this opportunity through investing in building capabilities in specific areas, and we’ll invest alongside that.
“This approach is resonating well with partners because it’s super detailed and removes a lot of the risk out of the investment.”
The approach aligns to global plans outlined by Thomas Kurian - appointed as CEO of Google Cloud in November 2018 - centred around increasing focus on priority verticals and solutions.
“This enables us to have in-depth conversations with partners and to assess where they are focusing and where we see demand,” he added. “Rather than saying, ‘partner A should invest in capabilities and just trust us’, we’re having much more intelligent conversations with the channel.
“We’re showing partners customer demand in each countries and where we are then investing in our own teams to move this conversation along.”
Speaking to Channel Asia on the sidelines of Google Cloud Summit in Singapore, Willis said the creation of a specialised channel in turn heightens the need for enhanced collaboration within the ecosystem, through a partner-to-partner type approach.
“If I look at almost every enterprise customer we’re engaged with across Asia Pacific, they all have multiple partners working with them on different Google Cloud projects,” he said. “The partners are not always competitive in nature and sometimes they are working on different opportunities.
“It could be different partners offering different capabilities, alongside our technology partners working with traditional services partners. We’ve therefore been making investments in creating dedicated roles to help align all of the partners within these opportunities to ensure a better outcome for the customer.”
According to Carolee Gearhart - vice president of worldwide channel sales at Google Cloud - the vendor is focused on recruiting the “right partners with the right expertise” to execute on the potential created through an expanding cloud market in the enterprise.
“We’re seeing tremendous traction with partners, particularly those serving enterprise customers,” said Gearhart, speaking to Channel Asia on the ground in Singapore. “Google Cloud is committed to openness and we acknowledge that the market is multi-cloud which means we’re not going to strong-arm businesses into an 'all or nothing' approach.”
Against the grain
From a market perspective, Gearhart said the technology giant is focused on delivering customer outcomes in a “repeatable and high-speed” manner through a tailored selection of partners, with internal changes also implemented to facilitate deepened levels of collaboration.
“Our field organisation is completely channel neutral and they are all working with partners, there’s no reason for them not to,” Gearhart added. “They are motivated by customers being successful and achieving that with partners in the shortest possible timeframe.
“We want to touch more customers and we do that through the channel. That might be through reselling, implementation or third-party solutions. The next step is to accelerate the time to value for the customer which is orientated around how partners can create stronger levels of customer experience.”
In focusing on customer outcomes - and in echoing Willis’ observations at regional level - Gearhart said this will primarily be achieved through a “mix” of partners, whether global systems integrators (GSIs), managed service providers (MSPs) or independent software vendors (ISVs), among others.
“Delivering this outcome will require a mix of everything and we’re being very thoughtful about how we’re covering our bases with the aim of delivering a whole solution to the customer,” Gearhart said.
“There are different roles that partners can play because enterprise customers want to work with a range of partners, that’s the model they use. Therefore, we are thinking both horizontally and vertically at regional and local levels.”
From a channel standpoint, Google Cloud is new to the concept of partnering compared to more established vendors such as Microsoft. But for Gearhart, this represents an opportunity to innovate from a blank canvas.
“A legacy channel can be a drag,” Gearhart cautioned. “We want partners capable of stepping up and investing in capabilities and adding value to customers. Yes, we have baseline certifications but there’s demand for real vertical and solution expertise and then at almost a PHD level, specialisation.
“Achieving this requires commitment and investment which is important to us. Not all partners are realistically looking to do this but there isn’t a list of criteria that we need to tick from a channel perspective because we’re taking a different path compared to other vendors in the market.”
In a direct message to partners, Gearhart said Google Cloud will continue to “carve our own path” in the channel, in alignment to plans already in place through Kurian.
“We spend a lot of time with Thomas [Kurian] on forecasting and seeing where the puck is going and we are deliberately identifying key areas of focus and ensuring partners are getting the right levels of resources and guidance,” Gearhart explained.
“This is being reinforced at country-level to assess whether we have capacity in X, Y and Z. We want to ensure partners receive the rewards for the investments they are making in Google Cloud."