2023 was a pivotal year in the tech industry, with huge breakthroughs in AI and partnerships affecting every facet of the industry – enterprise partner programs being no exception. As we step into 2024, trends have started to emerge, with artificial intelligence driving partner program efficiency and the squeeze of limited resources further driving a focus on partner engagement and education.
To get a better understanding of what that looks like, we’ve gathered the top trends from five enterprise-level partner programs making waves and breaking headlines. From Google announcing a 10 times funding increase into AI partner initiatives, to Zoom’s partner program overhaul announcement at Zoomtopia, 2024 is sure to revolutionize the enterprise partner ecosystem.
Google pushes partners towards artificial intelligence with a 10x increase in funding
At the end of last year Google released Gemini, their GPT-4 competitor, announced multiple AI programs and announced a 10 times increase in funding for both ISV and systems integrator partners to implement gen AI. With these product-led GTM motion announcements, Google seeks to firmly establish themselves as an industry leader in AI.
A suite of solutions is only one half of the equation, with Google Cloud's Partner Program being the other. Google Cloud's Partner Program is a comprehensive ecosystem that brings together technology partners, solution providers and system integrators to help customers create new value with artificial intelligence.
In seeing the growing demand for AI capabilities, Google Cloud hasn’t lost sight that it is a partner-led business with a plan to double rewards for partners who drive adoption. To optimize speed of adoption, Google is also actively solving for the AI knowledge gap. For example, the Google Workspace Sandbox Toolkit is a learning tool that offers Duet AI at no cost to partners so they can accelerate their knowledge and sales cycles.
Google Cloud's commitment to pushing partners towards AI has positioned its partner program as one of the most talked about in 2024. Google Cloud is empowering its partners to deliver cutting-edge AI solutions and setting an example for the entire industry to follow.
IBM goes ‘partner-first’ and pledges to double partner-generated revenue
One of the biggest contradictions in the partnerships space has been businesses driving revenue through partners while simultaneously not investing in their partner programs. IBM is showing the industry why putting partners first isn’t just a trend, but instead a bonafide revenue-generating GTM strategy.
IBM Chairman and CEO, Arvind Krishna, revealed during last year’s Think Conference that IBM ecosystem partners generate 40 per cent of the company’s software revenues. Over the next three to five years, the goal is to double that figure to 80 per cent.
The roadmap? Partner education for AI implementation. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to foresee a competitive advantage for businesses with the most advanced AI offerings. However, most organizations lack in-house proficiency and re-skilling is costly – that’s where a robust channel partner ecosystem comes in. A winning channel partner model focused on education enables businesses to jump onto the AI bandwagon benefiting partners and driving revenue.
In 2023, IBM introduced IBM Partner Plus, a partner program for IBM’s cloud and AI suite that offers competitive incentives, enhanced training, technical support and education. IBM offers tools, applications and libraries for partners to earn skilled badges and enhance their own solutions with IBM’s core technologies. Since October 2022, they’ve seen over 70,000 enrollments in IBM skilled courses across all their partner organizations.
By empowering partners with education, resources and investment, IBM is showing how a ‘partner-first’ GTM motion drives revenue and leverages channel partner ecosystems to stay competitive with AI.
You might also like: The ultimate guide to partnerships for ecosystems.
Microsoft sets the gold standard in partner cloud adoption
Microsoft has been a trailblazer in cloud technology for years, and in 2024, it continues to dominate the market with its comprehensive partner program that shows the rising trend of cloud adoption.
Microsoft Cloud is made up of products and solutions for businesses that span six critical categories – security, infrastructure, digital and app innovation, data and AI, business applications and modern work.
At the heart of Microsoft's cloud adoption strategy is Azure, its powerful cloud computing platform. Microsoft's AI Cloud Partner Program gives partners access to Azure's extensive suite of services, enabling partners to build, deploy and manage a variety of cloud-based solutions tailored to their customers' needs.
With a wide range of partner types, Microsoft offers a collaborative channel partner ecosystem that fosters growth and success. This shift in focus shows; Microsoft reports a 30 per cent revenue increase from its Azure cloud platform in the last quarter of 2023. Keep an eye out for further cloud adoption by enterprise partner programs in 2024.
Zoom’s partner program overhaul focuses on education and marketing help
Zoom, a leader in video conferencing, is undergoing a significant partner program overhaul in 2024 with the launch of the Zoom Up Partner Program. Similar to other enterprise businesses, their program is focused on providing enhanced support, resources and incentives for its partners. This includes a partner support program, allowing partners to provide customers with tiered technical support by introducing four support levels based on their level of investment.
In addition, Zoom is launching an AI-powered marketing initiative in the Partner Demand Center so partners can create content for marketing campaigns in 150 languages. Traditionally, businesses would set up partnership programs and leave the marketing to the partners. Investment in marketing trickles directly from the partners back to Zoom.
Zoom’s program overhaul empowers partners with tools and resources to boost go-to-market strategies, co-marketing campaigns and solution development efforts. This trend sets a positive precedent for all enterprise channel partner programs as more revenue entering the ecosystem benefits everyone.
PandaDoc brings channel silos into one ecosystem with a PRM to grow recurring revenue by 47% YoY
PandaDoc, a leading document automation solution and sales automation software, saw a 47 per cent increase in monthly recurring revenue when it consolidated its separate partnership channels into one ecosystem under PartnerStack.
When it comes to setting up partner programs, most businesses don’t intend for them to end up in silos. But the reality is that it’s difficult to manually set up and manage multiple programs, partners and data sets. That’s when channels turn into forgotten toys collecting dust and payouts become the bane of a finance department’s existence.
That’s where a PRM, or a partner relationship management tool like ParterStack, steps in. With a PRM, you can have ISV partners, distributors, resellers, agencies and affiliates all working under the same tool. Additionally, you can house resources, access partner networks and set up automated payouts and commissions. This streamlines reporting and payouts, allowing businesses to see what’s working and funnel their focus there.
In 2024, expect more enterprise partner programs to utilize PRMs to centralize their channels into revenue-generating ecosystems.
What’s ahead for enterprise partnerships
In 2024, expect enterprise partner programs to focus on offering a suite of AI solutions and enable those partners to effectively sell those solutions through a multitude of resources and incentives. 2023’s breakthroughs set the stage for the 2024 AI arms race, and we’re eagerly watching to see who will come out on top.