Ask any major player in the cloud space about partners, and they’ll tell you a robust partner network is key to success. But for smaller tech companies, the value of partnering up isn’t always clear. Sometimes it can look like you’re giving away too much to your competitors, or making an investment that will take a long time to pay off.
At 2A, we extoll the value of partnerships at least 10 times a day—building messaging guides, playbooks, case studies, pitch decks, and ebooks that illustrate how customers benefit from a better-together scenario. That is to say, we know a good partner program when we see it.
Take, for instance, Hikari. The company formed as a spin-off from Ireland-based EMIT to help customers get more value out of their data. The secret to Hikari’s skyrocketing success wasn’t only its bet on low-code technology. It was Founder and Executive Chairman Eamon Moore’s vision for a partner network that launched Hikari into the big leagues.
Moore’s first introduction to a new partner paradigm happened after EMIT won the Microsoft Global Partner of the Year for SMB Cloud Solutions in 2016. “It opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about partner networks. Here was a global group of companies interested in helping each other out—acting as a sounding board for one another. These discussions inspired myself and the team to think about how to adapt to new trends, and they provided tremendous insight into where we could deliver value to each other,” Moore said.
Once Hikari spun off from EMIT, it partnered with ProcessUs, a firm specializing in Microsoft Power Apps across Ireland and the Netherlands. The companies worked together to deliver low-code solutions that pulled different sources into the Power BI dashboards Hikari built, giving customers better visibility into their data at the touch of a button.
Business took off. There was clear value in combining the skills of both companies to help customers get more from their cloud data. Then Hikari decided to double down and bring Power Apps capabilities in house. The firm acquired ProcessUs, and the combined team set out to scale the new and improved Hikari.
From his work at EMIT, Moore knew many SMB customers view their Modern Work partner as a trusted IT advisor. While a particular partner might focus on cloud migration or security, their customers still ask them about everything technology related—from a photocopier to a PC to AI. Which puts a lot of pressure on small partners. “At the end of the day, if you try to be a jack of all trades, you’ll be the master of none,” said Moore. “It’s critical to do what you do really well and stick to it—especially when you’re a company our size.”
Moore reached out to Microsoft and pitched the idea of setting up Hikari to serve Modern Work resellers. Under his proposed model, resellers would work with Hikari to determine if a low-code solution would help achieve their customer’s business objectives. If so, Hikari would support the partner with customer education and solution development.
Microsoft introduced Hikari to TD SYNNEX, a distributor of IT products and services, that serves thousands of partners across Western Europe. Together they created a P2P model serving resellers who act as the trusted advisors of SMB organizations. Hikari started by helping TD SYNNEX partners with low-code workshops, assessments, proofs of concept, and service development. Over time, it has pivoted to offering a Power Platform Centre of Excellence for partners to ramp up their low-code skills.
“We believe in the power of the network—the partner network, the Microsoft network, the distributor network,” Moore said. “We all have important, strategic customers that we want to hang on to. We don’t want a competitor knocking on their door and selling them on the idea that they can do everything while we can’t. Partner-to-partner (P2P) relationships help you maintain your existing customer relationships and increase your status as a trusted advisor by bringing in great partners to round out your offerings.”
Hikari is just one of many companies out there that has created a flourishing partner network. For an overview on how to grow your own B2B technology partner program, download our guide.