Bret Dayley

IHV (Independent Hardware Vendors) Alliance Marketing Lead, SUSE

Supernova Award Category: 

Digital Marketing Transformation and Sales Effectiveness

The Company: 

Founded in 1992, SUSE is a multinational Open-source software company that develops and sells Open-source solutions including SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, the first commercially available Linux distribution. Over 50% of the world’s supercomputers run SUSE Linux Enterprise. They have thousands of customers and over a thousand employees, with hundreds of worldwide partners. SUSE partners with leading hardware, software, and system integration companies to bring their innovative solutions to market.

The Problem: 

As an Open-source software company, a high percentage of our revenue is driven via partnerships. Majority of our programs entail partnering and working with Independent Hardware Vendors (IHV), combining their HW with SUSE’s SW to provide enterprise-grade, supported, open source based-solutions. But there are a LOT of motions, organizational constructs, priorities, and interesting relationships.

Our MDF program needed discipline and improvement. We had a situation with a partner where 67% of the MDF fund exited out of the program. Alliances did not have a dedicated, singular system. We were using a lot of disjointed solutions, many of which were not part of SUSE's prescribed business software stack nor part of our Alliance Partner's prescribed business software stack, ranging from Trello, to Dropbox, to Slack and that posed a huge GDPR risk. We had to rely on emails as the primary workflow and there was a lot of spreadsheet frenzy. This manifested itself in a variety of problems ranging from: invoices not being paid on time, lack of up-to-date information, absence of on-demand visibility, and no strong ROI reporting.

The Solution: 

The fundamental problem was the lack of a dedicated alliance system. We quickly eliminated other vendors and honed in on WorkSpan. We had identified some essentials for SUSE that this system must provide. WorkSpan was able to pass our rigorous enterprise architecture security assessment. It is a highly visible system with easy provisioning and rights management. Access controls and rights are important to us because there’s zero tolerance for partners seeing anything that does not apply to them. WorkSpan enables attribute-based access controls. The joint approval workflow is simple and hardened via an audit trail. SUSE was able to establish our budgets frequently, on a quarterly basis, and keep it simple at the same time, while enforcing essential business logic—like key dates. WorkSpan also supports funding from multiple budget periods. The reporting is real-time and robust—and the intuitive interface minimized the onboarding time for our alliance teams.

The Results: 

State of the Alliance Business at SUSE after WorkSpan

  • Streamlined and consistent program operations
    • Time and money savings via efficiency gained
      • Superior partnering experience across the board
      • Teams driving joint opportunities, rather than dealing with convoluted processes
      • "QBR in a box” powered by WorkSpan
  • Powerful ROI analysis for all partner activities
  • Real-time and 360° visibility via reports and dashboards
  • Enhance BMDF Fund utilization by 85%
    • Last quarter (planned for funds) at 99% 
    • Increased visibility to current budget status and proposal status
    • Expiration deadlines are top of mind
    • Proposal process is not arduous

Real-time Visibility and Alignment

  • Working in close alignment with 7 HW vendors in their MDF program—including names like Cisco, HP, Lenovo, Dell, and EMC.
  • Visibility to performance data from attendees to pipeline, and revenue impact by campaign.

Boost MDF Utilization

  • Increased by 85%
  • Last quarter (planned for funds) at 99% 

Streamlined Alliance Processes and Operations

  • Time savings via efficiencies and elimination of redundant, manual work.
  • Money savings due to automation and consistent processes across all partners
The Technology: 


Disruptive Factor: 

SUSE has been able to consume WorkSpan’s powerful system in an incremental fashion. In the process of doing so, SUSE got more sophisticated in how we do our alliance work. The WorkSpan team proactively shared industry best practices with SUSE based on how other alliance practitioners leverage WorkSpan. For example, upon WorkSpan’s recommendation, SUSE started using the endorsements feature in WorkSpan’s Joint Marketing App to squish the time-consuming back and forth communication between alliance and field marketing teams.

I believe that SUSE is now able to “out-partner” our competition by leveraging WorkSpan. Business friction is bad, it can be the death of a great technology or solution. Part of an alliance manager’s responsibility is to be easy to work with. This is a competitive advantage and we were falling short at SUSE. With WorkSpan becoming our shared platform across all alliance teams, working with our partners is smooth, streamlined, and easy.

Shining Moment: 

I remember getting an email from a person who was always frustrated because there was no dedicated system for us to track all our work. The email thanked me for rolling out WorkSpan to the broader alliance groups at SUSE, and appreciated all the insights that were being provided via the reports. Finally, this individual asked how any new activity would show up in the system. It was my pleasure to respond that it was as simple as hitting refresh on his report to pick up all new activity!

About SUSE

SUSE, a pioneer in open source software, provides reliable, interoperable Linux and cloud infrastructure solutions that give enterprises greater control and flexibility. More than 25 years of engineering excellence, exceptional service and an unrivaled partner ecosystem power the products and support that help our customers manage complexity, reduce cost, and deliver mission-critical services.