Are Your Partners Getting Their Money’s Worth from Your Certification?

Channelinsider recently showed that the value of IT Certification, in terms individual pay premiums. For all but one category, it had turned positive in the last 3 months versus last year as compared to average base salary. Another way to look at this is that Partners are now able charge more for the services their technically trained people provide.

  • When you prepare your certification programs, do you consider the certification costs from the Partner’s perspective? You may want to make sure you’ve asked the following questions…
  • Do you evaluate everything the Partner must invest in certification before they will realize any revenue?
  • Have you looked at how long it takes a Partner from the time they become certified until they begin consistently producing revenue as a result of this certification?
  • Do you know how your Partners compare before and after training?
  • Do your Partners believe that their investment in certification was worthwhile? Did they see any ROI?
  • When will the Partner breakeven on their investment in your certification? Is this reasonable?

Here’s where analytics can help. Relying on sound data and quantitative analysis removes guesswork. For example you might want to do the following actions.

  1. Compare revenue and 2-tier POS in your Oracle, SAP or other ERP data base with information from your training and certification records in your learning management system.
  2. Marry that information to your Partner data base.
  3. Estimate the cost for each component of certification (course(s), equipment, testing, etc.).
  4. Identify average gross margin that your Partners will realize for each certification for your breakeven analysis.

Now you’re ready to start crunching numbers. Sound like a daunting task? It can be. Most of the information you’ll be gathering comes from different data bases. It’s in different formats that will have to be adjusted before you can even begin your analysis.

An alternative might be to work with an outside team of professionals such as WaveLength Market Analytics. Know Your Channel from WaveLength takes your partner, product, customer, company, and market data together with any necessary 3rd party sources to build your customized Partner Intelligence Scorecard. We work with you to identify Key Performance Indicators that your want to measure. If the data allows, we compare channels and partners, groups of partner-types, geographic locations, certification levels, experience levels, and any other types of analyses to assist decision-making, program evaluation and management.


For the IT Technology Market Vendor Go to Market Plans, the 4th C=Cloud!

By Ken Rutsky

This ones bursting out like a rainstorm (pun intended) exciting stuff…

Eucalyptus, according to GigaMon, appears to be on the verge of raising a round with a post valuation of $100M on best I can tell revenues in the $0M range! (Granted, a big name CEO joined, but still, 100M valuation??) When I saw this, it really got me thinking of 1) are we entering a cloud bubble and 2) why, even if we are, how the cloud is changing the business that I and my clients are in. I’ll leave topic 1 for another day, but let’s take a look at #2.

4Ps and 3Cs – A Cloudy View
Let’s pull out the trusty old standard and QUICKLY examine how these change or might change because of the cloud….

Product – The cloud opens up new delivery options for just about any hardware or software offering or capability. IT vendors MUST rethink their product plans and at a minimum better have good reasons NOT to be in the cloud.

Pricing and Cost– In IT mind, cloud = subscription, but does cloud = cheap? That’s one of many open questions. The move from perpetual to subscription business is a very tricky one the bigger you get, but the cloud is accelerating an already present trend. Services = subscription. IT products = services…get it…How do you price cloud offerings relative to your traditional on premise/package ones…

And on the cost side, the good news, it’s really cheap to get into business, no more hardware, no more datacenters, no more test labs, no more power bills. Ahhh, that works great for new start-ups. But aren’t you ISVs used to zero marginal costs on sales. Sorry!, get ready for COGS, more users = more COGS. A great example of a business model issue that helps new entrants move faster than existing ones.

Worried about margin cannabilization, well, guess what, the yCombinator start up down the street built hosting COGs into the model from day 1. They don’t expect 95% margins, but you do, oh, no wonder their offering is cheaper. Oh, and by they way, they’ve been built for low cost scaling too, while it’s going to take you a year to get there. Price for scale now and take a margin hit??? Oh so many great marketing problems to solve!

Place – How do you spell “disinter-mediation?” C-L-O-U-D. As product become services, product providers become service providers. Distribution is “free” and market friction goes away. New geos open without friction. At least that’s the theory, but the reality is much more complex and the channel will not go away without a fight and transforming itself…

Promotion – Try and buy, freemium, SEO, Social Media, Viral spread. The Cloud accelerates ALL of these trends. Time to learn some new tricks???

Customer – Who’s your customer, where are they, what do they expect. What are they thinking, what are their habits, who cares about you? How do they find you (see P=Promotion) and how do they expect to be found. As more customers can easily try your product is it right for them, are you missing new growth segments that you just aren’t looking for???

Company – Is the company ready for change? Is the executive team engaged or scared. How high is the sponsorship of cloud inititatives? Is it genuine of lip service. Do you understand the business model barriers to transformation? Sales quota and incentives, rev rec, HR policies? This type of change can hit every corner of the business, you’ve got to be ready.

Competition – New competitors, more cloud ready, new substitute products, new pricing models to compete with and on and on. What Hosting provider or Telco would have ever predicted Amazon as a competitor???

OK, have I convinced you or is the cloud all hype? I’m ready to add the 4th C to the old model, CLOUD! Are You????


Opinion – How the Role of the F.C.C. Impacts Internet Providers

By Sarah Sorensen—how-the-role-of-the.html

On April 6th, a federal appeals court ruled that the F.C.C. did not have the authority to regulate how Internet service providers manage their network. At issue was Comcast’s right to slow customer’s access to the bandwidth intensive, file-sharing service BitTorrent. While they can now limit traffic that is overloading the network, Comcast was careful to say that it had changed its management policies and had no intention of doing so.

These comments were most likely to ease the minds of those who recognize the affect that this court ruling has on the F.C.C.’s authority to mandate “net neutrality.” Advocates of net neutrality worry that this decision is going to give providers free reign to control what a user can and cannot access on the network.

It is this point that many of the media outlets focused on, turning this case into a potential watershed moment for watchdogs looking for unfair and biased treatment of traffic by Internet service providers. A single instance of seemingly preferential treatment of one type of content over another could end up causing a provider to lose the trust of their customers. It could also be reason enough for Congress to step in and explicitly grant the F.C.C. the authority to regulate.

As such, it is more important than ever for Internet service providers to be transparent in their actions to sustain customer loyalty. They need to make sure customers know how they plan to manage their networks and what to expect in order to build trust and a lasting relationship. Given that the national focus is on increasing Americans’ access to high-speed Internet networks, anything seen to be contrary to achieving that goal, regardless of whether it is real or simply perceived, will have very negative connotations on the brand of that provider.

This is probably why Comcast’s statement around the verdict was subdued and focused on the future: “Comcast remains committed to the F.C.C.’s existing open Internet principles, and we will continue to work constructively with this F.C.C. as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.”

Providers who want to allay customer fear and skepticism around their motives should make an extra effort to reaffirm their commitment to providing high-speed access and high-quality services. They should start to have an authentic, ongoing dialogue (that is threaded through everything from their Web and social media communications to policies and procedures) that explains the challenges associated with supporting all the different demands of high-bandwidth applications and exactly what they are doing or are going to do to meet these challenges. Only if customers trust that they are providing an equal opportunity service will providers be able to sustain their business without a lot of regulation.


Hard Drives Can Pose Risks to Sustainability

By Sarah Sorensen

Extending the use of computing devices is critical if we are to create more sustainable consumption. We can divert waste from landfill and reduce the energy it takes to extract materials and build new devices, if we can lengthen the life of the devices we already have or find new ways to use its components.

I think most of us try to recycle our devices and are happy to pass along those that have outgrown our needs. But what if its reuse poses a risk to you?  Hard drives can pose such a risk and, as such, often have their lives and usefulness cut short.

What do you do with your hard drive, which often houses all of your intellectual property and sensitive information, when you are done with it? How do you make sure your information isn’t found and used by someone else? Just deleting the information off of it doesn’t mean it’s gone, it is not too difficult to get the data back. (Something I am often thankful for when I delete a file by accident, but which opens up a huge risk when you really want to get rid of the information.) Even when your hard disk is corrupted or physically damaged, all is not lost.  just do a quick search on hard disk recovery and you will find a whole host of sites and solutions that can help  recover information.

It’s no wonder that organizations that can afford them have “disk drive chippers” that completely destroy a hard drive once it is no longer needed, so that no data can be recovered from it. Others go a more conventional route and use what a colleague of mine calls “Fred Flinstone” or “Young Dr. Frankenstein” techniques – you get the picture.

But wouldn’t it be more sustainable if we could extend the life of that device? What if there was a reliable way to permanently erase the data on it without having to shred the device?  Just because the model is no longer of use to you, it is very likely it would suit the needs of someone else. We could divert that device from landfill for a little while longer. Then, because we have a way to erase the data, we could explore recycling and reusing the components to further reduce waste.

This is something that has been done with cell phones and copiers; they often receive an extended life in the hands of those who find an older model perfectly suitable. (I know I have donated my cell phone in the past; you can check out to find organizations in your area who have needs.) But is this safe to do now?

In the past, phones were only used for voice calls – the data potentially exposed consisted of your phone book. Remove your SIM card and you could be fairly sure that future users would not find anything personal left on your phone.  Today’s smart phones have the computing power of many desktops; they are being used to conduct our business and personal lives. Ever search the Web? Take a photo? Check your bank account? Pay a bill? Read your email? Download a file? Think of all the data that is potentially on your smart phone stored on the hard drive that now sits on that phone… how do you make sure that it is gone when you are done with the phone? Does this mean we are back to destroying the device? Again, it would be great to know that we can reliably erase the data, so the device can be used by someone else.

Same thing with photocopiers; over the past five to seven years, most copiers are networked to a variety of computing devices and each have a hard drive that records all the information that is copied, printed, faxed or scanned. Since most organizations don’t want to spend the capital to buy a copier they lease it from a provider (which also enables them to offloading the repairs and maintenance). When the lease is up, the copier provider will come, delete the data, and send it off to another customer. But we have already mentioned that simply deleting data doesn’t mean it is gone. So these copiers can provide a wealth of information to those who know to look for it. (Check out this site to get some tips on how to protect yourself when using a copier). Again, this doesn’t make it a sustainable solution.

So what can you do? As an organization, you

  • Need to first put in place a proactive data leak prevention program; because only after you are sure you can identify all the potential risks, can you put the processes or technologies in place to mitigate them.
  • Consider using a disk management program that adheres to any of the eradication standards used by many international governments and military (such as DoD 5220.22, Gutmann method, Schneier Standard, AFSSI 50220, NAVSO P5239-26, VSItR, AR 380-19, GOST P50739-95, Crypto-secure Random Data.
  • Ensure you can securely delete data from hard drives, including “locked” or “in-use files.”
  • This requires overcoming some operating system limitations that exist to ensure continual operation – which is what you want when you are using the system, but not so great when you want to get rid of the data.
  • So, make sure you are able to delete all the different file systems from all the different operating systems you have on the device.
  • You also want to make sure that you can eliminate “zombie-data” stored in the recycle bin or in the blank space of the hard drive.

For individuals:

  • You can download software that enables you to erase hard drives, such as Active@KillDisk or LSoft Technologies. They write over the data, because deleting and reformatting the drive doesn’t actually delete it.
  • Note, data that has been written over only one or two times can be recovered; however, it takes expensive equipment to do. So unless you are expecting a super sleuth or crime lab to want to read your data, you are probably safe.
  • If in fact you are worried about professionals taking the time to get at your data (you probably have bigger problems than I can imagine!), experts recommend rewriting the data seven times to make sure it is unrecoverable.
  • Make sure you pay attention to those files that are “locked” or “in-use” and “zombie data”- you don’t want to leave them on the drive.
  • Something to think about is the ability to remotely initiate and manage an erasure, so that if your phone or computer is lost, you can delete the data as soon as it connects to the network.
  • Some operating systems have a “kill pill” feature that allows you to remotely erase and lock it, make sure it’s enabled.

Once the hard drive no longer poses a risk, it can be reused. The goal is to promote a more sustainable way to use technology, so we can reduce our impact and drive change on a global scale.