Top channel trends in 2024: Level up channel partner programs with data

By: ITA Group

What you need to know

  • Refining your data sources gives a complete picture of your channel partners' performance and needs.
  • Using action-focused dashboards is a great way to visualize complex data and get real-time insights into key performance indicators.
  • Harnessing better data means you can make faster, more informed decisions about your channel incentive program.

channel partner analyzine data

Our top channel trends in 2024 emphasize the demand for performance data and actionable insights as a non-negotiable. Now more than ever, data serves as fuel for driving innovation, efficiency and competitive advantage in channel partner incentive programs.  

Businesses recognize using performance data and actionable insights unlocks new growth opportunities and optimizes program effectiveness. However, many still face challenges when properly refining, visualizing and operationalizing data so it adds value. Without data, organizations have to make decisions based on historical (and often outdated) information, theories or assumptions. 

Here's how businesses can navigate these challenges and use data for successful channel incentive programs. 

Using data to improve your channel partner program

1. Refine: Find new data sources and fill in the gaps

Clean and enrich data to ensure its accuracy, consistency and completeness. Techniques such as data validation, deduplication and normalization can improve data quality.  

  • Data validation: Evaluate your program data's accuracy and quality. It’s important to build several checks and confirmations into a system or report. 
  • Deduplication: Duplicates happen. Ensure your system has an efficient method for eliminating redundant data.
  • Normalization: Make each data point have the same scale. Think of it as comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges within your dataset.

Additionally, using AI or machine-learning algorithms helps automate these processes and reduce human error.

To have the best possible data, channel leaders should seek out new data sources relevant to their industry and partner ecosystem. Invest in new tools or systems, or partner with experts who can help gather the right information. By expanding your data sources, you can fill knowledge gaps and get a more complete picture of your channel partners' performance and needs.

ITA Group expert insight: Data confirms customer sentiment

“Add additional data sources to confirm what you’re seeing. For instance, one automotive client not only receives customer insights from JD Power information, but also performs market and customer research studies to verify customer sentiment at the dealership. This ensures that what they hear from customers is accurate and provides actionable insights that will move the needle.”

—Riley Johnson, Strategist in Channel Solutions 

Suppliers often have little to no performance data to assess and understand partner demand performance, value and ROI, impacting the ability to create impactful go-to-market plans.

ITA Group expert insight: Claims tools better track product sales 

“Use your channel programs to gain insights that you never had before. One client never had a way to track its product to the end consumer unless they used the company’s software (which rarely happens). By using our claims tools to gather customer information, they now have a better idea of where product sells through the channel, giving them insights to make better business decisions.”

—Riley Johnson, Strategist in Channel Solutions 

RelatedHow data fuels a channel incentive program (and how to collect it) 

2. Visualize: Consolidate current data into actionable dashboards

Once you refine data, make it easy to visualize, understand and interpret by consolidating data into actionable dashboard. Dashboards provide “real-time” insights into key performance indicators (KPIs). They track behaviors like participation, specific actions (training, logging a sale, uploading a pitch deck, etc.) and KPIs around usage of offered benefits. Centralizing your data in accessible formats empowers your department, field teams and partners to make informed decisions and drive channel incentive program success.

ITA Group expert insight: Dashboards provide “real-time” insights for goal creation

“Clients use dashboards to motivate participants and channel partners to fulfill a specific organizational goal. For example, specific segments receive year-over-year sales growth goals. Tailoring the information for each target audience gives them something that’s realistic and actionable. In one of our client’s programs, they use information in the dashboard to create growth goals—sell more than you did the previous quarter or previous year. Once participants reach the goal, they unlock a bonus. Making sure the data is easy to see and understand lets sales reps know how they are progressing.”

—Riley Johnson, Strategist in Channel Solutions

“There's a concept I refer to as the decision window, which is the time frame where you make decisions on your program. Is it monthly, weekly, daily or truly real time? Whatever the answer, that's usually the refresh time you should shoot for. A lot of people want “real time,” but if you're not acting in real time, you're getting a lot of information that looks cool but doesn't really help you.”

—Danny Ready, Analytics Advisor in Channel Solutions 

download oure book on how to formalize your channel partner program

3. Operationalize: Use data to make faster, more informed decisions

Finally, it’s time to operationalize. Incorporate refined data into your business processes and workflows to drive decision-making and improve operational efficiency. Organizations use data integration platforms, APIs and other technologies to connect data sources with existing applications and systems. This allows automated data-driven processes like predictive analytics or real-time reporting, which helps make faster and more informed decisions.

ITA Group expert insight: Ongoing iterations are your friend

“Every change is an opportunity to learn something new! We work with clients to constantly iterate—a new structure, a new communications campaign, a new bonus incentive. Every time we make a change, we measure and learn as they occur. The goal is never to wait for the next annual review to look for something new—it's a constant, ongoing process. It's part of the DNA of a high-functioning channel program.”

—Danny Ready, Analytics Advisor in Channel Solutions 

5 actionable steps to use your data in channel programs

1. Start with your business objectives

Use clear business goals, objectives and initiatives to inform what data to focus on.

2. Use data to drive your decisions

Infuse data into every step of your decision-making to prove profitability and ROI, and enhance participant and customer experiences.

3. Optimize for engaged partners

Understand who the best partners are, craft ideal profiles and use data beyond a historical look at sales. Focusing on future successes and growth potential is an important way to approach data. We’ve seen demand from our clients for additional data points that would help them identify high-potential partners.

4. Find gaps in capabilities

Collect profile data on partners’ demand capabilities to formulate and calibrate the channel demand strategy. This will also reveal gaps in partner capabilities, including a lack of resources like marketing and inside sales staff, budget, systems, tools, knowledge and skills.

5. Collect customer data from indirect channels

According to Forrester, this is a top-three challenge for B2B marketing decision-makers for implementing marketing programs or campaigns for their high-growth enterprises.

Know when to outsource data management and analytics

With the growing demand for data expertise, businesses are turning to external partners and suppliers to refine and operationalize their data. Outsourcing data management and analytics services provides businesses with access to specialized expertise, advanced technologies and scalable solutions. This unlocks the full potential of data and drives informed decision-making across channel incentive programs.

Let’s talk! Contact us to learn more about how data can transform your channel program.

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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