Citrix Summit focuses on channel partner growth, profits

Citrix Systems kicked off Citrix Summit 2016, which will highlight channel partner growth, profitability, predictable engagement and a sharper focus on the midmarket.

LAS VEGAS -- Several months after naming Robert Calderoni interim CEO of Citrix Systems and announcing the spin-off of its GoTo family of products, as well as plans to lay off 1,000 workers, Citrix Summit 2016 kicked off with senior channel executives highlighting three key focus areas for partners: growth, profitability and predictable engagement.

The annual Citrix Summit event is expected to draw about 4,000 attendees, and it's the third Citrix sales kickoff that brings together the vendor, its sales teams and channel partners to get everyone on the same strategic page for the year.

In her role for about five months, the vendor's new channel chief, Kimberly Martin, vice president of partner strategy and sales, dug a bit deeper into those focus areas, and talked more specifically about honing in on the midmarket, managed services and improved field engagement.

Acknowledging the company's entrenched position in enterprise accounts, Martin signaled a strong focus on midmarket businesses, as a restructured Citrix moves into 2016.

"As we look at our core portfolio of solutions, we knew that we were underrepresented and underserved in the midmarket," she said. At the same time, she noted that Citrix never had specific marketing efforts or channel initiatives in the midmarket.

So, last year, the vendor commissioned a study to better understand the midmarket segment. Citrix learned about vertical, horizontal and what Martin called "trigger" use cases, such as those spurred by Windows 10. The company has used this knowledge to build use cases, enablement and marketing campaigns, increasing its investment to bolster incentives to help partners succeed in the midmarket.

At the same time, Martin noted that the majority of the company's partners' profit and loss (P&L) statements are evolving more to services and less to product margin. Based on the use cases and IT interest in cloud, mobility and security -- the No. 1 concern of IT buyers in the midmarket -- Martin asked, what does that mean in terms of Citrix partners' services and their profitability?

As we look at the midmarket, the No. 1 thing an IT buyer will buy is managed services.
Kimberly Martinvice president of partner strategy and sales, Citrix Systems

"So, we're creating playbooks and getting down to the exact number of hours you can offer to a customer and service offerings around the new use cases," she said.

Martin also stated that in conversations she had with partners, they wanted to understand how to migrate customers to the cloud and how they think about cloud in terms of their own P&L statements. Citrix, she said, offers partners a great story, because its offerings are on premises, hybrid and hosted cloud.

"Competitors like VMware only offer their cloud. As we look at the midmarket, the No. 1 thing an IT buyer will buy is managed services. And Citrix has a unique differentiator for partners in that they can host and have an ongoing services relationship with the customer," she said.

This managed services opportunity offers a predictable revenue stream around hosting and a Citrix Service Provider Program that's purpose-built for partners, she added.

Finally, Martin talked about the need for Citrix to improve the field engagement model it has with partners. To this end, Citrix is adopting a partner account manager (PAM) role in lieu of its channel development managers (CDMs).

All of the company's CDMs will attend a two-day PAM boot camp, which will teach attendees how to build strategic partnerships with the channel, how to do social marketing, how to manage the new pipelines and feed incentives through the engagement process.

"We're changing the role of our CDMs and retooling them, so they can work more closely with our partners and so our partners have a direct link into Citrix," Martin said.

This means that going forward, PAMs will have named partners, they’ll offer pipeline reviews, build marketing plans with partners, as well as have strategic funds to spend with them.

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