Growing and scaling partner ecosystems: Supernode event recap

Partners Ana Ilievska Ana Ilievska
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Our VP of Partners, Barry D’Arcy, attended the 2022 Supernode Conference in Philadelphia, PA. Supernode was a two-day gathering presented by Crossbeam where over 200 partnership professionals from leading SaaS companies gathered to swap best practices, get inspired by leading partner programs, and make new friends.

If you are not familiar with Crossbeam, we suggest visiting their website and blog. They are a partner ecosystem platform that helps companies build more valuable partnerships. They offer free account mapping tools, industry-leading networking, and a growing integration marketplace that brings partnerships and revenue together.

A conference for those who grow and scale partner ecosystems

The conference, which took place May 17-18, 2022, included talks from industry leaders who shared impressive case studies and trends with the intention of providing insights on ecosystem ops, the art of partnerships, and the future of the ecosystem. Speakers included Allan Adler, Managing Partner at Digital Bridge Partners; Sara Du, CEO & Co-Founder of Alloy Automation; Chelsea Graham, Partner Sales Executive at Highspot; Pamela Slim, Co-Founder of Main Street Learning Lab, and Cristina Flaschen, CEO at Pandium, among other channel professionals.

image of Supernode event speakers

Quote from Barry D’Arcy, VP of Partners @ Storyblok

  • Here at Storyblok, we have a strategic goal to build a strong, strategic partner ecosystem. Crossbeam’s Supernode event was an exceptional opportunity for us to learn from other industry experts about the current trends in channel partnerships.

    Picture of Barry D’Arcy
    Barry D’Arcy
    VP of Partners @ Storyblok

The keynote presentation, by Bob Moore, CEO at Crossbeam, included a review of the State of the Partner Ecosystem. According to Bob, partner ecosystems will be the most prolific and efficient growth lever businesses can build in the coming decade. Bob kicked off his presentation by showing us an impactful growth graph of Crossbeam and the connections it’s created since its inception. From the early days of best in tech partner connections to today’s supernode (hence the event name)! The full Crossbeam report of Partner Ecosystems can be found here.

image of Bob Moore presenting at Supernode

Bob Moore, CEO of Crossbeam at Supernode

Key takeaways on partnerships from Supernode

Many valuable lessons were learned at the Supernoce Conference. For the purpose of giving you a quick and simple event recap, here are some of the takeaways we found to be most valuable.

Tracking the business impact of tech partnerships

CEO of Pandium, Cristina Flaschen, shared that partner-supported customers stay longer and buy more than non-partner-supported customers. Nowadays, businesses are demanding more interoperability from their SaaS products. They are also buying through marketplaces more than ever, including integration marketplaces like Salesforce AppExchange, Shopify’s App Store, and the AWS Marketplace. As a result, offering customers product integrations has become a must for SaaS companies, even at earlier stages of growth. However, despite recognizing the importance of integrations, organizations are still struggling with how to assess and track the business impact of integrated tech partnerships. Flascher shared some insights from Pandium’s ebook on measuring the business impact of tech partnerships which can be found here.

image of Cristina Flaschen's presentation on partnerships

Image from CEO of Pandium, Cristina Flaschen's presentation

An ecosystem mindset is the future of business

Allan Adler, Managing Partner at Digital Bridge Partners, talked about how the evolution of cloud, SaaS, APIs, and AI tech has transformed markets. He pointed out that platform business models and their network effects have replaced traditional, closed-off marketing tactics. Ecosystems are steadily becoming more important as they bring consistent and rapid growth, differentiation and competitive advantage, retention & loyalty, and value & societal contribution. Adler also talked about the fact that solutions (ecosystems), not products, matter to customers. For example, research shows that the major key characteristic that leads customers to choose a particular marketing automation platform is integrations with other technologies.

image of Allan Adler's presentation on integrations

Image from Managing Partner at Digital Bridge Partners, Allan Adler's presentation

A Partner Portal is an Ecosystem Growth Lever

Sara Du, CEO & Co-Founder of Alloy Automation, says that a partner portal is the fastest way to attract new customers and new partners to a company’s ecosystem. She talked about the importance of marketing and co-marketing initiatives as a way to add value to a partnership program. In addition, she mentioned the benefits of featuring your partners in public-facing materials and promoting the achievements your partners accomplish alone and together with your company. All of this creates an ecosystem that works together efficiently and brings revenue and recognition to both partners.

Quote from Barry D’Arcy, VP of Partners @ Storyblok

  • It was interesting to learn about the importance of promoting the growth of our partners and talking about our combined wins. It was also nice to hear some validation on the importance of a partner portal, something we’ve put a lot of focus into at Storyblok.

    Picture of Barry D’Arcy
    Barry D’Arcy
    VP of Partners @ Storyblok

Scaling ain’t easy but is a key part of any mature Partner Program

Maureen Little, VP of Technology Partnerships at Okta gave an excellent presentation on building healthy partner strategies and scalable systems. Little talked about building a healthy partner strategy, which should be done by aligning it to your company strategy, building scalable programs, driving visible impact, and focusing on people.
In her presentation, Little outlined 4 steps to building scalable programs:

  • Segment all partners: Target partnership initiatives to your high-value partners by creating a list of criteria to determine a partner’s value to your program.

  • Create partner categories: Clearly defined categories of partners and their roles help measure and bring value.

  • Document program: Document the partner lifecycle with all touchpoints for each internal team member to avoid overlapping responsibilities and confusion when scaling.

  • Automate where possible: Invest in software that helps you automate your workflows to prevent manual work from halting your scaling process.

Storyblok’s partner ecosystem

Storyblok’s Partner Program is something we are very proud of. We provide our agency partners with integrations for eCommerce, localizations, asset management, content locking, deployment and hosting, personalization, and much more that can be found in our app store. We fuel the growth of our partners through our Partner Portal where we host a learning center with educational and promotional materials to help our partners acquire more clients and learn about our product. In addition, we have unique benefits that include revenue share, partner listings, and co-marketing initiatives. These co-marketing initiatives include case studies to showcase our partners’ beautiful projects, shared PR activities, event co-hosting, guest articles, a Partner of the Month initiative, and a dedicated 5K annual co-marketing budget for our Certified Partners. Lastly, our agency partners enjoy a free lifetime license which can be used to build their own website and use it as a demo for their clients.

On the other hand, together with our technology partners, we help organizations accelerate and unlock their full potential for implementing successful digital projects. More than that, we help clients select the right options from our tech partners, integrate them into their projects, and offer numerous interfaces to the most relevant provider on the market. To showcase our technology partners and the beautiful projects we have built together with them and our agency partners, we are currently building Storyblok’s Technology Partner Ecosystem. Stay tuned for all the upcoming updates and exciting news about our partner ecosystem.

Quote from Barry D’Arcy, VP of Partners @ Storyblok

  • A key takeaway from the Supernode event was that we’re transitioning into the world of partner ecosystems. There are many challenges to building out a robust ecosystem. A robust partner channel will deliver more value to revenue orgs than any other source. Here at Storyblok, we’re laying the foundations to launch, prove, scale, and embed our ecosystem to support customer satisfaction and retention.

    Picture of Barry D’Arcy
    Barry D’Arcy
    VP of Partners @ Storyblok

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