• Channel Marketing and Enablement,  News,  Partner Management Automation,  Vendor Selection

    Digital Transformation has Disrupted the PRM & TCMA Software Markets

    Almost every industry is morphing to an “as-a-service” business model based upon digital interactions. But eBusiness/eCommerce has not taken work away from channel partners (there has been no “dis-intermediation”). No, the channel has become even more influential and advocational for all businesses. However, channel partners are now more likely to live off revenues earned from the buyers, than from the manufacturer they now, only occasionally, represent. 

    Plus, in addition to resellers or distributors, we now have channel players called affiliates, referrers, associations, communities, groups, ambassadors. Most importantly, the whole relationship is now primarily based upon digital interactions and depends less on partner account managers on the street.

    When I started out in 2019 as an independent analyst, my first research report on this topic was titled Channel Marketing and Enablement – intended to cover all marketing processes where a manufacturer or vendor distributes products and services through partner organizations as their indirect channel. Channel marketing is a form of brand content management; where programs, promotions and leads are managed both down and up the channel (also called Local/Distributed Marketing or Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA)). Channel Enablement are processes around the partner relationship itself: recruitment, registration and classification, contractual details, information exchange, and more (usually labelled Partner Relationship Management (PRM)). (Before that, at Forrester, I had managed separate Forrester Wave projects for TCMA and for PRM).

    In today’s world, I do not think that traditional PRM or TCMA is enough for any company that is working, marketing, and selling in a true digital manner. Most manufacturers have a channel software stack consisting of many parts; perhaps a TCMA system, plus a PRM, and usually other software tools that the PRM does not cover. With smaller volumes and, more-or-less, manual channel management, this was less problematic. 

    In a more digital business world, with higher volumes of transactions, transaction types, partners, and partner types, companies will want a more comprehensive and, more importantly, fully integrated platform for Partner Management Automation. So that is how I approached my later research into channel management.

    In 2022, I had already highlighted many vendors preferring to stick to their traditional offering of just a PRM platform or just TCMA: happy to do “business as usual” and find clients who wanted the same. But with the digital transformation of channel management, many of those vendors will now run out of addressable clients. They may even lose much of their installed base as they, their customers, transform their channels. Our research even shows that few of them are equipped to cover the even-wider requirements of PMA in a cloud-based, digital, eCommerce-dominated world with a much-more complex ecosystem of partnerships.

    Who is in the PMA Vendor Landscape?

    Within the nineteen vendors scored by the 1,500 survey participants, 12 vendors, including some interesting new entrants in this report, are in the Market Leaders category, having both a total Strategy and Execution score of over 4 out of 5: ALLBOUND, APPDIRECT, CHANNEL MECHANICS, CHANNELTIVITY, IMPACT, IMPARTNER, MAGENTRIX, PARTNERSTACK, SALESFORCE, 360 INSIGHTS, ZIFT SOLUTIONS, and ZINFI.


    We plan to publish the report later in February. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter