Top channel trends in 2024: AI will improve program customization

By: ITA Group

What you need to know

  • Before using artificial intelligence (AI) in your business, it’s important to understand the pain points of your own channel programs and processes. 
  • Creating a governance and risk plan, and getting stakeholder buy-in are key components of implementing this new technology
  • Personalization and customization is increasingly easy with AI and machine learning (ML), especially if your organization has detailed partner data. 


data and AI information improving channel partner program
No matter where you look it seems like everyone is talking about AI. Regardless of industry, this new technology is impacting the way we search, communicate and review data. 
It’s no surprise then that one of our top channel trends in 2024 focuses on how AI will change the game for channel program customization. In fact, 75% of global business and technology professionals indicated they were adopting or planning to adopt some sort of AI infrastructure technology within the next 12 months, according to Forrester’s Priorities Survey.
A wide swath of that AI adoption is happening inside product and service offerings. In other cases, AI helps augment internal organizational knowledge and efficiency. However, we’re also seeing AI improve channel programs through data analysis and marketing material customization. 
Adopting trends often requires convincing stakeholders to change up an existing approach. Go into those conversations after evaluating your program so you’re ready to act on very real suggestions.
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What exactly is artificial intelligence?

Before evaluating how (or if) you want to incorporate AI into your channel partner programs, cut through technology buzzwords and understand the differences between AI, machine learning and more.


As an umbrella term, AI refers to the capacity of machines to mimic human cognitive functions, such as learning, problem-solving and pattern recognition, enabling it to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. There are various subfields to AI, including machine learning and natural language processing.

Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI)

Generative AI describes algorithms (like ChatGPT) that create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations and videos.

Natural language processing (NLP)

Natural language processing (NLP) is a subset of AI that focuses on enabling computers to understand, interpret and generate human language.

Machine learning (ML)

Another subset of AI, machine learning (ML) refers to computer systems learning and improving from experience without being explicitly programmed. This happens by training the system with large amounts of data.

How AI improves channel program customization

AI is revolutionizing most aspects of business, and channel incentive programs are no exception. After you’ve identified pain points in your channel, consider ways AI improves program customization.

Personalized content

AI analyzes partner data, preferences and behavior to deliver personalized content that resonates with each partner. This includes tailoring content based on partner type, industry, role and stage in the buyer’s journey.

Related: Learn how to add personalization to your channel partner programs

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics within AI anticipates partners’ needs and preferences, helping channel program managers proactively provide relevant resources and support. This not only helps improve engagement, but also improve partner satisfaction.

Intelligent recommendations

Use AI to work smarter, not harder. This technology provides intelligent recommendations for content, resources and actions that are most likely to benefit each partner. It helps partners navigate the channel program more effectively and achieve their goals more efficiently.

Data-driven decision making

AI helps marketers make data-driven decisions by providing insights into the performance of different channel programs, identifying trends and predicting future outcomes. This helps teams optimize their strategies and allocate resources to improve the program success.

As channel incentive platforms become even more intelligent and automated, these tools will use predictive analytics to forecast the most effective incentive programs and predict personalized incentives for partner organizations and individual stakeholders. 

Expert tips on how to use AI

“AI considers things like partner profiles, past behavior, program rules and engagement metrics to offer suggestions on where an incentive or promotion might be helpful. Having a system look for patterns in the data helps surface areas you can act on.”

—Ellen Linkenhoker, Channel Solution Line Manager


“AI has already empowered channel leaders to communicate more effectively with participants, driving higher engagement and achieving program goals efficiently. AI could revolutionize participant communications in incentive programs by personalizing messages based on participant data, automating reminders and notifications, providing real-time data and analyzing behavioral insights to optimize communication strategies. Using predictive analytics, AI predicts the most effective communication channels, timing and content, ensuring participants receive messages that resonate with them, thus driving engagement.”

—Cyndi Radke, Channel Strategis

How to implement AI in channel programs

After you’ve considered how AI might be useful to your organization and channel partners, take actionable steps toward implementation. 

Explore inefficiencies

Think about areas of your work or channel program that feel bogged down by inefficient processes. Make a list of those pain points and brainstorm how to use AI tools to remove friction from your reoccurring tasks. 

Get buy-in to ensure a meaningful impact

Adopting new trends like AI often requires convincing stakeholders to change their existing approach. Using insights from evaluating your current program pain points, you'll be better equipped to engage stakeholders and implement AI-driven solutions that deliver tangible results.

Create a governance and risk plan

Has your organization thought about how AI impacts your business and internal processes? Start by developing clear policies, guidelines and training on implementing and using AI. These plans serve as a template for decision-makers to resolve key questions around using AI within your business. By applying the governance framework to design and implement best practices, you ensure your team uses AI in a responsible, consistent manner. 

While there are many benefits of using generative AI technology to ideate, innovate and work more efficiently, proper guidelines, policies and training must be in place to secure sensitive and confidential information. Our AI Advisory Group develops and guides our AI policy, as well as manages governance and risk.

Expert tip on getting started with AI

“Start with your data and predictive analytics. See how you can use AI to gain insights you didn’t have before. The breadth of tools is exploding right now. The landscape of what's possible with AI is going to change a lot over the course of the year. If you don’t have a task force exploring what's available—create one."

—Riley Johnson, Channel Strategist

ITA Group’s approach to AI

We use AI and ML to enhance claims processing, eliminating the need for manual entry and human intervention. This solution significantly reduces the administrative burden for businesses while lowering costs. 

Additionally, our cloud-based solution enhances the partner experience for clients. These new technologies improve the validation process by scraping information from invoice images to identify and confirm product-specific items for eligibility—even among competitive brands on the same receipt. We’re actively extending this AI tool for additional capture mechanisms like VINs, SKUs and serial numbers.

Expert tip on how AI can impact channel programs

“The possibility of even smarter, real-time incentives is what excites me the most. Using AI to define a goal and come up with a customized incentive for every participant (based on numerous market conditions) will be incredible.”

—Riley Johnson, Channel Strategist

Never forget that you’re augmenting people—adopting AI should still be heavily reviewed by humans in the near term and oversight should exist. 

Let’s talk! Contact us to start thinking about channel partner customization in new ways. 

Note: This article is part one in a five-part series on top channel trends of 2024. Now that you've learned how to find success with channel partner enablement, check out the other four trends:

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