The Future of PRM - How Will Partner Relationship Management Develop?

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 7, 2020 5:21:10 AM / by James Hodgkinson

James Hodgkinson

What does the future look like for PRM?

Forrester recently published the latest edition of its Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Wave. When Forrester invited Webinfinity to participate in the Q4 2020 version of the report we were excited to share our progress in a new approach to partner engagement through the delivery of cutting edge, engagement driven portals for a range of visionary, world class companies.

A few weeks later (having reviewed the submission criteria and performed some soul searching internally), we made the decision not to participate in the Wave - the only vendor who declined the invitation.

Why, you may ask?

Because in the context of the Forrester research nothing has really changed in PRM. Forrester continues to use the same legacy criteria to evaluate solution providers – namely, specific rigid functionality in the following areas:

  • Partner management
  • Planning and contract management
  • Performance management
  • Partner portal/content management
  • Partner opportunity management
  • Partner marketing management
  • Business intelligence and channel data management

Within each category - a rating and ranking of capabilities around specific features related to the processing of certain data, and the management of specific processes including industry functions such as MDF, Deal Registration, TCMA, CPQ, LMS and all the other acronyms the Channel has created over the years!

This same feature/function-based approach has been the status quo for PRM solution evaluation criteria since I started in the industry nearly two decades ago. Meeting as many of the needs as possible is the primary approach you’ll find from well known ‘all-in-one’ PRM vendors such as Impartner and Zift Solutions.

Yet this approach to PRM isn’t really working ...

Many technology manufacturers are actively looking to change their PRM vendor. The industry is littered with stories of complex projects that missed expectations and disappointed partners while frustrating internal teams through extended implementation periods and significant project overspend…. simply put, PRM is not always delivering the expected ROI. And what about the PRM challenges of the future - as we see an increasing move towards connected ecosystems channel leaders are demanding more.

At Webinfinity, we saw this shift coming more than five years ago. With 15+ years of PRM experience, we realized that the old ways weren’t working. We decided to completely rebuild our approach, architecture, and technology to embrace a next generation, best of breed future. As a result, Webinfinity offers a very different approach to traditional PRM solutions.

How so?

Functionality is important but Engagement is EVERYTHING

In today’s digital-first world, every channel oriented company should worry less about how many tools and modules they offer and more about one key metric (the same one consumer businesses like Google, Facebook and Netflix live and die by) - Monthly Active Users (MAU). In other words - how many people interact with you and why do they care!

Webinfinity has focused our entire methodology, technology roadmap, services, and integrated offerings on the maximization and optimization of Monthly Active Users. Without active, fully engaged users, all of the features and functions in the world aren’t going to matter.

Modern PRM solutions need to focus on user adoption and other top line benefits above all else, for example:

  • Simplicity, ease of use
  • User activity volumes
  • Partner engagement growth
  • # of active sellers per partners
  • Increase in deal rates/reduction in time to close
  • Targeted content consumption %’s Etc. etc.

And what about bottom-line considerations - total cost of ownership (who is designing, building and maintaining this portal?!) - how long will it take to get to market, how flexible is the solution, what are the running costs, how easily can we integrate other systems, how reliant are we on the vendor we choose?

If you are focusing on usability and engagement as your primary objective, the rest will follow. But what do you do when you require specialist solutions to meet your end to end program needs?

Best of Breed vs All in One

If you look at the key trends driving the industry today it’s clear the digital user experience platforms of the future will not be single suite solutions. Companies large and small are already using multiple applications; whether it’s a CRM system, multiple content storage applications, different tools for online learning, helpdesk management, video streaming and the rest.

The vast majority of organizations understand that a best of breed approach will be the future of channel technology. I wrote a blog on this subject last year and since then the breadth and depth of technology solutions available has grown further still. And that’s just specialist Channel tools!



In reality, the claim that a single, all-on-one “PRM” solution can solve for everything is patently unrealistic. What happens in reality is that you adopt a system that is a mile wide and an inch deep meaning you will likely have to bring in the specialist solutions you need to really address key needs anyway.

Organizations that understand that future partner engagement is going to be comprised of multiple technologies, data sources, content silos and services will have a real advantage moving forward. Marketplaces that address these needs effectively will become increasingly important. The Channel Marketplace (of which Webinfinity is a co-founder) is an excellent example of the thought leadership and solution guidance that well-structured, best of breed marketplaces can deliver.

So What’s Next- It’s all about the Ecosystem

But the good news … we are all getting on the same page regarding the future.

Forrester recognizes change is coming. Gartner is seeing this shift as well and recognized Webinfinity’s move to embrace evolving engagement and ecosystem trends when they selected us as the only ‘Cool Vendor’ in “PRM”.

Connected, end to end ecosystem engagement is where the future lies. Accenture recently reported that 76% of business leaders agree that current business models will be unrecognizable in the next five years, with ecosystems being the main change agent.

Using technologies that move beyond the classical definition of ‘PRM’ - providing the tools to engage every ecosystem member, in one connected digital experience will be a major competitive advantage for the companies who get there first. Webinfinity is at the forefront of embracing this opportunity - enabling a new breed of channel leaders to move to a model of digital first partner engagement and revenue growth, across every single member of the ecosystem.

But we are not doing this alone! By working in partnership with the best tools, solutions and services the industry has to offer we are proving that there is a realistic way to truly embrace world class ecosystem engagement at scale.

Learn more

Topics: PRM, Partner Portals, Personalized Experience, Channel, Content, Engagement

James Hodgkinson

Written by James Hodgkinson

As Founder & CEO of Webinfinity and now SVP of 360ecosystems, I have led the development and launch of a game-changing SaaS Ecosystem Engagement Management platform, also known as 360ecosystems!