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2022 Year in Review: Ecosystem Partnerships Growth and Innovation

Chip Rodgers

Partnerships: A year in review

Wow, 2022 has been a banner year for the growth of partner ecosystems, the energy and investment companies are making to grow their partner ecosystems, and new technologies being deployed to accelerate and take advantage of the tremendous opportunities from modern partnering!And with potential economic challenges ahead, the timing couldn’t be better. A study earlier this month by EY found that companies with more than five ecosystems are able to drive 1.8 times higher revenue growth with 2.1 times more cost reductions than companies with less than two ecosystems. That is remarkable.Our CEOs are all looking for ways to grow revenue and reduce costs with possible storms ahead. It’s no wonder that partner ecosystems are front and center for driving strategic advantage!Earlier this year, Jay McBain, Chief Analyst at Canalys declared that we are in the early innings of The Decade of Ecosystems. Indeed, 2022 has shown that prediction to be coming true in spades.It has been a whirlwind year for the partnerships community. From new communities to new events and new publications - there has been so much happening that we wanted to recap some of the notable events over that past year in partnering.In this article we will touch on a variety of moments, from large funding rounds for some partner centric technology companies, significant events that have happened throughout the year, and also meaningful innovations at WorkSpan.Let's begin.

Key moments from 2022


The birth of PartnerHacker, a media company focused on partnerships

You read that right.An entire company dedicated to expanding the knowledge and discipline of partnerships and evangelizing the benefit of partnerships to the wider business world was launched this year.

partner hacker

Jared Fuller, a partnership veteran, and Isaac Morehouse, an experienced startup founder are the masterminds behind PartnerHacker.The growth of the business has been incredible:

  • 4,500 members have signed up to receive PartnerHacker content (which is delivered daily, you can sign up here)

In addition to writing incredible content and producing podcasts and videos, they tested the water for new ecosystems events with “Ecosystem Week” in the spring and then doubled down in the fall with PL[X] Summit.PL[X] Summit brought together leaders from product, marketing, sales, and customer success to talk about partnerships and the benefits partners can bring across the entire organization. Partnering is not just a sales strategy - partnering should be embedded in all parts of the organization to truly drive value and benefits to customers.Over 4,500 registered for the inaugural event - showing the power of this incredible idea and the value partnering and other business leaders see in building their ecosystems for success.Huge milestone in 2022.


WorkSpan releases “Co-sell with Me”, revolutionizing co-selling from inside CRM!

When we talk about the revolution of partnerships, it's no secret that innovations in partner tech will be the gasoline for this engine.One of the complex strategies that exist in partnerships is the strategy of co-selling with partners.In March, WorkSpan released a brand new solution, Co-sell with Me, which added automation to reduce much of the manual effort associated with co-selling - and connecting partners, partner teams, and account teams to streamline and automate co-sell collaboration.Co-sell with Me automates a variety of critical partnership activities within the WorkSpan platform.  It includes creating partner plans and managing referrals and joint opportunities, advanced reporting to understand what’s happening across partners, regions, industries, and solutions with real time, concrete data on partner contribution.

cosell with me diagram

Co-selling has been so difficult because of the manual effort required between partner teams to work mutual accounts, so Co-Sell with Me streamlines opportunities to co-sell at scale.


Reveal raises $50m in Series A funding

Reveal, a company founded by Simon Bouchez, which boasts customers like Qualtrics, Tealium and ContentSquare as customers, raised $50m in Series A funding this past April, led by Insight Partners.This is a significant funding round for any company, but what made this particularly exciting was the validity it gave to the partner tech space.Dan Lancioni, Senior Director of Partnerships at Reveal had the following to say about the raise:“”Reveal's raise shows that the current go-to-market model of cold outbounding and prospecting - at very high volumes - is broken, and the next decade of SaaS growth cannot be achieved, solely, by throwing more and more SDRs and AEs at your TAM. The next decade of the SaaS growth will be powered by the ecosystems around your business, through creating deep and meaningful relationships and integrations, with the companies that your prospects know and trust already

April (2)

SaaS Connect attended by 400+ attendees

The Cloud Software Association is an active community led by Sunir Shah that’s gained tremendous growth with over 4,000 partnership professionals as members.The organization’s annual event, SaaS Connect, was held in San Francisco in April, with over 400 attendees. Some of the headline speakers included Laura Padilla, VP of Global Partners and Services at Airtable, and Siddhartha Agarwal, VP, Product Management at DataBricks.

saas connect

Again, like many of the events on this list, the number of attendees willing to travel to be a part of this live conference, highlights the appetite for partnership leaders to learn from each other, understand what works, and grow in their careers.It also showcases the growth of the industry and development of the ecosystem.


Crossbeam’s SuperNode Conference

In May, Crossbeam hosted SuperNode, their first ever in-person conference focused on partnerships with over 200 partner professionals attending for 2 full days of partner centric content.The list of speakers was diverse with everyone from VPs and Directors of partnerships, to investors focusing on partnering sharing their knowledge, strategy and outlook on the partner industry

super node

An awesome takeaway from the conference came from Sarah Wang, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), who made it clear that companies with partnership programs are extremely attractive to VCs today.Sarah mentioned that, with the growing uncertainty in the economy, partnerships provide resilience in growing headwinds, stating “the more partners in a company’s ecosystem, the more likely we are to invest.”Powerful words from a major VC like Andreessen.


WorkSpan delivers 100x scale with new multi-company architecture

unified shared network

By July of this year, WorkSpan delivered a number of industry-defining capabilities including:

  • Cloud ecosystem “100X architecture” able to handle massive scale of joint partnering requirements across the more than 10,000 partner companies on the WorkSpan network.
  • Delivering industry-first full lifecycle incentives capabilities to keep companies and their partners fully aligned throughout the customer lifecycle. Traditional “MDF” solutions have focused on the old-world front-end incentives for on-prem license sales. WorkSpan handles the full lifecycle of incentives for today’s SaaS cloud requirements to align partners and drive the right behaviors on renewals, expansions, and upsell opportunities.

WorkSpan continues to deliver product innovation for the ecosystem partnering category at a breathtaking pace. Watch for more coming in the near future.


Partnership Leaders holds the first ever Catalyst conference in Miami

Catalyst is on our list of key events this year for two reasons:

  1. Catalyst was a partnership exclusive event, which is a rarity.
  2. The event demonstrated the significant growth impact of the Partnership Leaders Community.

Partnership Leaders (PL) is a growing community that started as an idea back in 2018 as a place for partnership professionals to swap ideas and strategies. PL has now morphed into the fastest growing community for partnership professionals with over 1,300 members, and upcoming expansion into the EMEA and APAC regions.

partnership leaders

The Partnership Leaders team has worked tirelessly to grow their community, and hold their first large event, Catalyst in Miami in August, which was attended by over 400 partnership professionals.“”Our membership growth has been incredible with a 97% growth rate this year alone, we have also launched our community into EMEA, APAC and Israel, showing the growing need for partnership education and collaboration across the world.- Asher Matthew, Founder, Partnership LeadersThe Partnership Leaders slack community is also incredibly active with a 70%+ engagement rate, making it one of the most engaged communities in the world!


WorkSpan Becomes Top Provider of Co-Sell Ecosystems for Cloud Hyperscalers, GSIs, Startups, and Tech Behemoths September of this year, WorkSpan’s customer portfolio broadened to become the:

  • Top provider of co-sell, co-innovation, co-marketing, and co-investment capabilities for the top global systems integrators across the world includingKyndryl, Wipro, Cognizant, and Accenture
  • Top provider of co-sell and co-investment / lifecycle incentives for top technology and software companies in the world like Cisco, VMware, SAP, Microsoft, AWS, and others
  • Top provider of co-sell with cloud hyperscaler solutions for some of the top cloud security companies in the world like Orca Security, Deepwatch, and many others
  • Top provider of co-sell with cloud hyperscaler solutions for some of the fastest growing startups in the world like Seeq, OwnBackup, Yellowbrick, and many others

The list goes on and the WorkSpan team has been excited to be onboarding at a record pace and making so many fast-growing and top technology companies in the world more successful by enabling speed, scale, flexibility, and revenue growth through their co-sell programs.


WorkSpan raises Series C funding

workspan series c funding

We would be remiss without mentioning a massive milestone that occurred this year with WorkSpan raising a $30m Series C funding round with Insight Partners!Funding in partner tech is incredibly affirming to not only our own company, but to the partnerships industry as a whole.The funding was covered in Business Insider showing the impact on the broader tech industry and continuing belief from VCs that partnerships are a growth strategy for the future, and the partner tech stack to support that growth.According to our founder Mayank Bawa:“”We are now firmly in the “Decade of Ecosystems” movement where companies across the technology landscape are racing to build their partner ecosystems to grow their shared markets.  We have defined best practices, served as change agents, and grown as support staff for industry leaders to execute on their key initiatives.With this Series C funding, the team here at WorkSpan will be investing in our customers and developing more ways to deliver increased value to the companies we serve.Not only was this a huge moment for WorkSpan, but also an exciting moment for partnerships!

November (1)

PL[X] Summit

The crew at PartnerHacker brought us a brand new event this year - PL[X] Summit.  The event assembled an impressive group of influential leaders from marketing, sales, customer success and product to talk about partnerships and the impact that partnering can have on every function in a company.

plx summit

The sessions were engaging and informative with each day of the week having a theme - Co-sell, Co-Market, Co-Innovate, and Startup Partnerships were our favorites!If you want any more evidence that partnerships are a hot topic everyone’s working to learn and master, you only need to look at the amount of people that signed up for this event… over 4,500!

November (2)

HubSpot, Partnership Leaders and Canalys release the “State of Partner Ops and Programs 2022” report

A massive effort by three partner-centric organizations led to the State of Partner Ops and Programs report being released in November that included responses from a remarkable 650+ partnerships professionals!

state of partner ops and programs 2022 report

Featuring commentary from executives such as Jeff Reekers, CMO at Aircall, Chris O'Neill, Chief Growth Officer at Xero, John Kosturos, Head of Channels and Alliances at ZoomInfo, and Connie Wu, Head of Business Development at Asana, the report gave a robust overview of where partnerships are as a strategy, and what more needs to be done to optimized partnering.We found a few responses especially interesting and informative:

  • 93% of enterprise organizations and 78% of all organizations have a partner program.
  • 65% of organizations view partnerships as essential to their future growth.
  • 50% of organizations attribute 26% or more of their revenue to partners.
  • 90% of partner professionals who aren’t currently using partner tech believe that their organization should start doing so.
  • 74% of respondents said ability to integrate with other systems was very or extremely important when buying partner technology (the #1 response)

We had the pleasure of hosting a live Ecosystem Aces video podcast with two of the survey’s authors, Kelly Sarabyn, Platform Ecosystem Advocate at Hubspot, and Asher Mathew, Co-Founder of Partnership Leaders, on the day the survey results were released to discuss the survey’s findings. Kelly and Asher worked with Scott Brinker, Hubspot and Jay McBain, Canalys to publish the survey’s findings.You can catch their full conversation here and download your own copy of the survey results.

December (1)

AWS re:Invent

The WorkSpan team was out in force at the annual AWS re:Invent conference, another major highlight on the calendar for partnership professionals!AWS is a key partner for us here at WorkSpan (you can check out how we make co-selling with AWS easier here), and the event was incredible - with over 60,000 attendees, an expo floor that went on for miles, meaningful keynote speakers to learn from, and countless networking opportunities.

aws reinvent interview

One of the key moments was the keynote with Ruba Borno, VP of Worldwide Channels and Alliances at AWS. Ruba highlighted Accenture’s CEO survey showing that “76% of CEOs think their current business model will be unrecognizable in 5 years - and the major reason will be ecosystems”.This is a statement that is being recognized and adopted by leaders at some of the largest companies in the world, and therefore should give all of us in partnerships confidence that partnering will be a core growth lever for years to come.

aws image2

Additionally, the partnerships keynote was an opportunity to celebrate the AWS Partner Award winners - so many incredible companies on this list!  Cheers to everyone’s success!

December (2)

Canalys works with Amazon to quantify the revenue AWS partners make by providing AWS services and solutions

It's no secret that there are tens of thousands of companies around the globe that make money by providing products and services in the technology ecosystem.In our terms - Solutions partners.A major challenge for these companies is quantifying just how much revenue they make in return for partnering with hyperscaler partners.Canalys analyzed all the revenue made by AWS partners and determined that for every dollar of AWS cloud services sold, partners earn a whopping $6.40!  Wow!

aws image5

That is a massive statement for the benefit of AWS partners!  And you can bet the numbers are similar for partnering with other large cloud players. It’s time to go get your share!(By the way, if you’re currently co-selling with cloud hyperscalers like AWS and Microsoft, or about to embark on a co-selling program with hyperscalers, WorkSpan can help in a big way to manage and automate your co-sell opportunities to grow that number even faster!)

Onward to 2023!

Ecosystem partnering has had tremendous growth and momentum this year and truly lived up to the prediction of being in the early innings of The Decade of Ecosystems!WorkSpan is proud to have played our part in getting the ecosystem partnering party started with our founding in 2014 and creating a new category of ecosystem partnering technology to take on the challenges of modern partnering to support the progress, growth, and scale of ecosystem partnerships in this exciting time.Ecosystem partnerships are only getting started. We can’t wait to see how it continues in 2023!  Hope you are ready for the ride!

Chief Partner Officer

About Chip Rodgers

Chip is passionate about building strong communities and ecosystems around enterprises to build excitement for the category, deliver value for customers, and grow the business. Prior to WorkSpan, Chip was with SAP for over 13 years, most recently growing the SAP Community Network to over 2 million engaged customers, partners, and developers. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago and an engineering degree from Northwestern.

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