Channel Marketer Report

Channel Data Management

Survey: Automated Channel Data Management Can Boost Revenue Processes, But Challenges Persist

More than two-thirds of senior leaders responsible for revenue management and channel strategy believe that solution based incentive management, automated channel data management (CDM), and automated MDF management would be very valuable when optimizing channel revenue processes.

Unfortunately, automating channel revenue processes across systems remain a significant challenge due to a reliance on manual tools and/or processes, technology silos, and a lack of a unified view of channel sales data and activities, among other things.

In addition to believing that partner program technology could optimize channel revenue processes, greater than 65% of leaders place the same value on automated rebate management, channel partner portals, and automated channel management, making it clear that high tech executives place a high value on technology features that can interoperate across data and organizational silos.

The comments were collected from 221 business leaders during a Forrester Consulting survey, which was commissioned by Model N, a cloud revenue management solutions provider. The poll sought feedback on the state of channel processes as well as what actions companies are taking to extend the effectiveness of their channel programs.

Obstacles Limit Optimization

Revenue management concerns featured prominently across the software and high-tech sectors. Other obstacles that limit optimizing sales decisions and profitability include:

  • Short product lifecycles;
  • Lack of recognition/appreciation that sales data quality is an obstacle;
  • Lack of a unified view of channel sales data and activities;
  • Inconsistent sales data entry; and
  • Poor data integration/merging capabilities.

Chanan Greenberg, SVP and GM of High Tech, Model N

“This new study and survey findings show that the crisis in channel automation is real. In many cases data is siloed, and a lack of common understanding around channel revenue processes exists,” said Model N’s SVP and GM of High Tech, Chanan Greenberg, in a press release. “Numerous high-tech and B2B software companies are literally flying blind due to siloed systems and processes. They’re leaving money on the table, because they don’t possess the proper tools to gather the timely, accurate and actionable channel sales information which can make a big difference when it comes to protecting margins and revenue streams.”

More than half of companies (56%) rely on homegrown technology solutions to partly manage their channel revenue processes, and many of these in-house solutions suffer from overlapping functionality, resulting in disconnected silos of data that are prone to duplication, errors and inefficiency.

The Forrester Consulting study states that “firms are struggling to stitch together a myriad of channel tools and manual processes, resulting in low-quality channel data that fails to provide a clear and timely view of performance.”

CDM Benefits Recognized

Executives do see the value in end-to-end channel automation for uncovering high-value opportunities and improving the partner experience. According to the study, “decision makers place a high value on solution features that provide a more automated and unified way of managing their channel processes and data from end-to-end.”

When asked if they could hypothetically improve the level of channel automation and integration, responses were broadly positive. Specific improvements cited included:

  • Protecting our margins from fraud (49%)
  • Improving the accuracy of our channel sales data (48%)
  • Protecting our margins from leakage (48%)
  • Empowering/rewarding our highest-performing partners (44%)
  • Developing a single view of channel sales data (44%)
  • Improving the experience of our end customers (44%)

According to Forrester Research’s Principal Analyst for Channels, Partnerships and Ecosystems, Jay McBain, high-tech manufacturing and B2B software companies – given the current marketing environment – should seek to build a holistic set of metrics and KPIs that accurately reflect channel effectiveness.

“Today’s increasingly complex channel environment means once-reliable partner performance measurements such as revenue tiers, profit contribution, certifications, and customer satisfaction surveys fail to properly predict overall channel performance,” McBain states in the report entitled Unlocking The Power Of Partner Ecosystems Demands Powerful Measurement. “To succeed, B2B marketers and channel leaders must embrace techniques that will measure the expanding ecosystems’ influence on the entire buyer’s journey and not just the transaction.”

“By integrating channel technologies and processes through automated, data-driven programs, brands can instill greater confidence in their channel partners and drive more revenue,” Greenberg observed. “And the research data from Forrester Consulting shows that companies are ready to embrace the benefits of channel automation – and the time to act is now.”