Partner Up! Selecting Your Perfect Partner.

It’s fair to say that the success of the NonStop community is largely down to the strength of vendor partnerships. Whether on the HPE price list, or selling directly in a crowded market, many opportunities would not exist without a referral or the endorsement of “Frenemies”.

Selecting the right partner is a critical path to representation of a company’s products, its brand or even its vision.

And the source of channel partners is extremely varied. They may already be part of the NonStop vendor community and well known to the broader NonStop community but on the other hand, there are other viable partners out there who are only just beginning to understand the importance of the NonStop marketplace.  

Sometimes this source can be as a result of a partner contacting us and simply “asking” to represent Insider Technologies’ products. In the age of the internet and automated prospecting, it is common to receive such unsolicited enquiries from reps and distributors. It may also come about due to a chance meeting with a sales agent at a conference, or through referral by existing partners.

Before agreeing terms with new channel partners, the single most important question to ask is “What do I expect from this partner”?

Channel partners can fulfill many roles. These can include:

-  New customer acquisition (and if so which target market)

-  Management and support of existing customer’s in their territory

-  Customer service

-  Logistical support

-  Marketing support

-  Debt collection

-  Value add packaging or selling

-  Co-operating with other channel partners in the same territory

In our experience, the best time to establish and agree these expectations with a channel partner is at the beginning of a relationship. It can be extremely difficult and sometimes counter-productive to introduce new expectations to channel partners once the partnership is up and running for a period of time. Following signature on an NDA, we’ll share our business and channel strategy with prospective partners at the early stage of discussions. Information of who we target, how we sell, our competitive advantages and how they can fit into this model is always welcome by professional distributors. The good ones will always want to learn as much about us as we do about them.

We always define our "channel partner profile." This is normally a 1-page document which sets out the characteristics of our ideal channel partner. For example, we may want to include requirements for:

- Access to target customer base: This is probably the most important feature to look for in a new channel partner.

- Territory coverage: What type of sales force is needed and how many?

- Synergistic product line: What product lines compliment ours? Will we allow them to sell competitive products or should they work exclusively with our product?

- Technical know-how: Do they embrace a similar approach to technical delivery?

- Support services: How important is marketing, customer service and logistical capabilities

- Strategic alignment: What type of business do they target, how does this compare with our strategy?

- Experience: What is the minimum time they should be in business for?

- Financial stability: A credit rating and references should be required before formalising any agreement

- Interpersonal rapport: Is this a person/team that we can work with? Do we believe they will be a flexible partner?

- Professional impression: Do they present themselves in a professional way?  

This list contains both hard/tangible characteristics of a potential partner's company along with softer/intangible elements (e.g. interpersonal rapport) which are just as important to a business relationship. We try to define the "ideal" characteristics of our channel partners and help to ensure that best in class partners will be selected.

Deciding on the type of partner you need is one of the most important steps to channel development.

Payment Processors: The Fastest Moving Sector In The West?

There can be little doubt that flavour of the month in the M&A space is in the payment processing sector. Vantiv’s acquisition of WorldPay, PayPal’s reported interest in Square – who recently posted their best ever results – and PAYTM publicly announcing their ambition to take on WhatsApp head on: this is what is peaking investors interests.

It wasn’t too long ago that the payment processing was the domain of the banks: HSBC and Global Payments, RBS and WorldPay. Elavon has its roots in Bank of Ireland. TD is the only bank in Canada still running its own POS network.

With the WorldPay acquisition worth a reported £7.7b, one wonders if the banks are rueing their decision to outsource merchant services.

The real complexity though comes from the focus of social networks to embed payment processing directly in to their proposition. Converged services that enable individual payment through Facebook groups will offer the ubiquitous “instant gratification” that our society now demands.

This explains why investors keeping a close eye on the merchant services space. But every story has a twist; where do the frailties lie?

In 2016, ETSY merchants reported serious payment processing issues to WorldPay. Etsy customers suffered nearly a month of frustration when WorldPay admitted causing duplicate charges for ETSY customers in their attempt to rectify the issues. NAB had a problem just last month when users reported missing transactions from their statement. It escalated throughout the day and took to social media to vent their irritation.

Merchant POS vendors like Global Payments use Sentra Transaction Monitoring for Payments, ATM, POS and EMS alert monitoring. The transaction monitoring module provides payment card industry compliant, real-time monitoring and archiving of the transaction flow information created by payment and transaction applications. Sentra provides online, accurate metrics about the status of the transactional payment, ATM and POS networks and HP NonStop systems and so prevent sustained costly lowering of interchange / switch activity.

The coming months will no doubt see more changes in the merchant services sector: more acquisitions, mergers, and disruption from social networks. We look forward to the challenges that this evolving market has to offer.







2018 Is Here And We See Early Exploitation Of Virtualized HPE NonStop A Real Possibility!

2017 is in the bag, so it’s eyes forward for an even busier 2018. With so many new developments arriving in the HPE NonStop world, we are excited to be assisting our clients to scope the move of their trusted Insider Technologies services to the new breed of NonStop - the virtualized solution.

Often a quiet month, December was an extremely busy one for our Operations teams as we completed rigorous testing of the latest MultiBatch version (9.5), formally completing an installation on to NonStop X. Installed on NonStop nodes in Manchester and Montreal, the process was almost seamless and gives the Insider Technologies team supreme confidence that we’re ready to assist our clients in their ambitions to upgrade in this new year. First up will be one of the world's largest providers of post-trade processing for bond, equity, ETF and mutual fund transactions as they move their entire NonStop estate to a virtualized environment. In addition, Reflex will be applied to the new NonStop servers, enabling the same tried and trusted monitoring that so many financial services organisations have come to depend on.

We expect to see more NonStop customer’s exploring the virtualized option in earnest this year, especially with the advent of the converged NonStop that so many people showed an interest in at TBC2017. The newer NonStop X nodes are offering higher performance so we hope to see interest from companies who are traditionally in the Linux / Unix world to move applications to OSS running on NonStop.

The emergence of blockchain and HPE’s endorsement of the technology will no doubt keep developers interests peaked. Cloud technology is clearly of interest to many verticals, but remains a concern in the financial services sector due to the increased threat of hacking.

On the back of some major enhancements to MultiBatch, our attention this year is very much focused on Reflex development. The January calendar is stacked with scoping exercises and we look forward to announcing new functionality and improvements in the first half of the year. As always, the customer is at the heart of everything we do: if you have specific requirements or thoughts on how Reflex can be improved to meet your growing monitoring demands, please do get in touch.

Thinking back to TBC2017, we’ve already planned in this years’ events, with the European NonStop Symposium being our first community gathering of the year in Leipzig, Germany. This will be a first for Insider Technologies and we’re very much looking forward to participating alongside our ETI-NET colleagues. Whilst it may be a few months off, the timing couldn't be better: we’ll get a chance to connect with NonStop users and get a true reflection of the prospects and challenges that come with a step change to NonStop X.

Of course, we’ll be at this year’s BITUG events and at TBC2018.

As I wrote in the December edition of NonStop Insider, partnerships are a key part of our business strategy. Our Sentra product is being sold exclusively by select partners in South America and Eastern Europe and we are on track to offer Sentra in North America and South Africa in the first half of this year. Sentra (Service Engineering, Tracking and Accounting) is a client-server software application for centralised management of multi-vendor, converged infrastructure and multi-platform payment, transaction and messaging systems. It provides extensive benefits that enable optimal availability, functionality and performance of critical systems. 

For an internal change of pace, we’re introducing Tech Tuesday – a monthly session where guest speakers will be invited to Insider Tech Towers to share their thoughts and ideas around NonStop technologies: where the industry is going and the innovations that are leading it. If you’d like to be a part of Tech Tuesday in 2018, please get in touch.

Here's to a prosperous 2018!