Channel Marketer Report

Channel News

Channel Stack Universe Expands Even As M&A Activity Climbs

The number of companies offering channel solutions is on the rise, according to research by Jay McBain, principal analyst, global channels at Forrester. By his count, the channel industry technology stack consists of 83 companies across eight operational categories.

These categories include:

  1. Channel data management
  2. Channel finance, pricing, and inventory
  3. Channel incentives and program management
  4. Channel management and reporting
  5. Indirect sales opportunity management
  6. Partner enablement and training
  7. Partner relationship management
  8. Through-channel marketing automation

Combined, these categories cover 90 key operational attributes of a strong channel partner program. As McBain noted in a November blog, “no one piece of software can (today) manage all moving parts effectively.” But he predicts this will change “because product road maps are getting more aggressive, money is flowing in from private equity, and mergers-and-acquisitions activity is catching fire.”

Indeed it is. As CMR report last year, Zift Solutions acquired Elastic Grid.  In addition to boosting Zift’s global footprint with a more substantial Asia-Pacific presence, the acquisition deepened the company’s concierge and managed services offering with the addition of Elastic Grid’s world-class creative services team.

Earlier in the year, Zift merged with Relayware.  When that merger was announced, the companies stated that the deal would position them to offer current and prospective customers enterprise channel management technology and services via Zift’s Channel as a Service (CHaaS) platform.

Relayware clients could integrate new capabilities for digital marketing, content syndication and social media syndication provided by Zift. The merger would also enable Zift users to use partner relationship management (PRM) solutions and gain access to new training and sales enablement functionality, more service offerings and deeper support resources.

In July, CMR reported that Zyme, a leading channel data management company, had acquired CCI, the channel incentives management firm. With the acquisition, Zyme would offer its customers the added capabilities of a comprehensive data-driven incentive management solution supporting rebates, MDF, co-op, SPIFS, and referrals.

Then in November, E2open, a supply chain solution provider, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Zyme, to enable organizations to have deep visibility into their indirect sales channels. The acquisition will help to accelerate Zyme’s vision of insight and alignment among channel partners and channel performance optimization, E2open noted in a release.

In March, Aprimo, a marketing operations company, announced in its acquisition of ADAM Software, a leading global provider of enterprise-class Digital Asset Management (DAM) software solutions. ADAM would integrate directly into Aprimo’s platform, bringing customers a marketing operations solution capable of handling both the production and publication of content.

The company also announced last year that it enhanced its Aprimo Distributed Marketing product enabling it to propel automation and scalability of localized integrated marketing campaigns.

Venture Capital Sees Opportunity

The increased interest that private equity has in channel technology companies was demonstrated by the $15 million investment in Impartner by Emergence Capital, a venture capital firm. In October, Impartner announced the latest release of its partner relationship management (PMR) software. The enhanced solution segments a vendor’s partners automatically and intelligently by attributes such as tier, region or type of partner.

Other channel technology vendors announced enhancements to their products. ZINFI Technologies, a leading supplier of unified channel management solutions, enhanced its partner relationship management platform with advanced content management capabilities. Among other things, the new capabilities include advanced content filtering options for various users, and new content approval management capabilities that allow greater collaboration by channel organizations and their agencies.

New channel technology competitors included some familiar names. A clean indication of the growing importance of channel organizations could be seen in the announcement by Salesforce of its PRM solution. Sales Cloud PRM, said the company, is “a turnkey app that enables (companies) to extend the world’s best CRM to their partners.”