In recent times we have seen scandal after scandal about privacy laws and data ownership. Companies such as Whatsapp / Facebook / Google have been at the forefront of all of this. All of them have had big fines for mishandling data as well as public perception being tarnished.
Why do people just give all of their data away to these companies without questioning it?
We are guilty of it ourselves with our LinkedIn profiles, Facebook accounts and Whatsapp instances on our phones.
The saying is “If you are not paying for a product, you are the product”
This couldn’t be more true when it comes to traditional partner portals. The partners are not paying but they are using the product. The product is paid for by the vendor which means that the vendor owns the entire system which in turn means that they own all of the data that’s in there.
Traditional partner portals are owned by the vendor across every tier so all of the data is under their ownership.
Everything that the partner submits via their partner portal is now belonging to the vendor.
What happens if you have data in there that you don’t want to share?
With the traditional vendors, you can’t do this.
The attempt to setup marketing automation against the partners email lists
Vendors have tried to implement email marketing capabilities within their partner portals that send campaigns out to their partners prospects. Big news is, they are not allowed to do this because that would mean sharing data from the partner with the vendor that hasn’t been authorised to be shared.
Could it be the reason why there is a very low uptake on traditional partner portal usage?
Partners are very wary about putting data from their company into the systems.
How many partners do you think would upload a list of their customers to the partner portal that is owned by the vendor?
Not that many. The fear of the vendor stealing the customers directly from the partner are real!
A way to rectify this problem
Give ownership of the portal to the reseller / distributor / vendor. Giving the ownership of their side of the portal ensures that no data is owned by anyone else in the chain unless authorised by the custodian of the data.
Having a portal where the vendor only owns their side keeps the data consistent and avoids any mishandling of data.
Only the data authorised to be submitted to the vendor by the partners gets transmitted and the data held at the partner side is strictly belonging to the partner.
This makes it possible for automated email marketing campaigns to be run within the portal without fear of giving the partners data away to the vendor. Everything that the partner places in the portal belongs to them and them only until they decide to register the deal with the vendor.
The campaigns can still be setup by the vendor but run against a list of emails provided by the partner in the partners own portal.
No mishandling of data, no more stealing of customers, just a managed portal for every layer of the channel.
The teething problems with this new concept
The issue with this new model is that partners presume that because they have put the leads in the system, they would be automatically submitted to the vendor. This is not the case. In the traditional model, everything that a partner puts in the system suddenly belongs to the vendor.
In the new model, partners can put in their leads so they can be ready to be submitted once the partner has enough information to do so. There is no visibility on this from the vendor until the partner says so. The partner data is protected at all times because they are the true owners of it!
Having their own portal to manage, allows partners to hold whatever data they want in there without the fear of the vendor being the owners of that data.
They can still run campaigns that have been setup by the vendor against that data without their own data being scrutinised or stolen by the vendor.
Everyone owns their own data…. Just like it should be.
Twisting the model takes time but it also protects everyone in the chain. Not like it is at the moment. Take control of your own data! Don’t give your data away to anyone just because they say it’s the best way to do it. It is certainly not the best way to do it. It’s just what people are trying to make you believe.
The benefits of each layer being owned by the respective party
Building a channel management solution in layers has multiple benefits that the original model doesn’t have.
As the partners and distributors own their side of the portal, they have complete control over it including the storing of their own partners as well as all of the vendors that they work with.
This in turn creates the elusive single pane of glass because each layer is owned by the user of that portal.
If their side of the portal was owned by the vendor, like it is traditionally, the partners would have a separate portal to login to every time they want to access a vendors assets, leads, pricing etc.
In addition to the single pane of glass model, it gives distributors complete flexibility on their own partners within the ecosystem. They can control access of each partner in their reach for the vendors that they are authorised to work with. This gives the distributor a complete, holistic view on how their channel is performing.
The vendors get a complete view on the KPI’s on every tier of the channel because everything is tied together by the relationships that exist within the channel.
Partners and distributors can split the portal by team member on regions, vendors and department which gives them the tools to grow their channel independently of the vendors that they currently work with.
Distributors and resellers can associate forms with their portal for accepting leads, partner applications and running campaigns that are totally separate from any vendor that they are working with.
Everyone in the channel is now the master of their own destiny… The captain of their own ship.
So what about the traditional model?
It has been the way it has been for the last 20 years with no real move away from the traditional. With all of the data privacy laws coming in in recent years, something had to be done.
Would you trust your own data being automatically submitted to a 3rd party as soon as you enter that data?
I know we wouldn’t. Partners need to be more conscious of what data they put into the portals that they currently work with if the portal is fully owned by the vendor.
The traditional model isn’t going to be around for long because it detracts from the partner experience and just increases the frustration and worries of the partners because they are not in control of their own data and need to have their own data in multiple portals owned by multiple vendors.
It’s time to change this way of thinking and take control of your own data!