Ecosystem Business Management Platforms – The Next Gen PRM Tools


Last Updated on April 24, 2022

You are witnessing the growth of your ecosystem partners – an essential lever of your business strategy, and either already working on partner management tools or looking to implement one, to drive execution. And, you have an ambitious vision pinned up on your whiteboard that says.

“Innovate, Evolve, Grow. Repeat.”

If you are truly practicing this business mantra, you know that in this fast and fiercely changing business and technology landscape, there will always be something better, and even revolutionary, that will make its way into your ability to better manage your partner ecosystem.

To achieve the full potential of “ecosystem partner management,” tools and platforms are constantly evolving and eliminating the barriers that limit effective end-to-end execution. 

One such unique platform is Ecosystem Business Management (EBM). 

You could ask, why is it unique?

Because, EBM goes beyond just reselling partnerships—helping companies seamlessly manage multiple partners and meet ecosystem partners’ business requirements. Yet many companies are still stuck in the old ways of managing partners. And, the need to transition out of traditional partner management is urgent. 

This blog will help you learn more about EBM and the factors that differentiate it from traditional partner management tools. Let’s dive in…

But first, let’s see how we modernized from conventional times or at least adapted to some of the modern ways that have made our lives easier.

If you are reading this blog on your phone, think how remarkable it is that humans invented this thing you are holding. You are scrolling over it with just one finger, and can even make notes without lifting a pen. Who would have imagined this decades ago? Next, think about our level of adoption of this innovation. Huge, right?

We reached this far owing to the gradual yet massive evolution, innovation, and adoption that communities of people, organizations, and systems made possible! 

The point we are making is two-part:

First, be prepared to adapt, change and transform, to ace the ecosystem partnerships’ game. Second, you must level up your partnership management capabilities to realize its full potential.

So, what will it take to stay at the top of your game for ecosystem partner management?

Before we jump straight into the answer, let’s do a quick roundup of the traditional partner management solutions that have long existed.

For the last 20 years…

Organizations have used Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, to manage their customer relationships, direct sales teams, and all the processes and workflows around sales. 

Simply put, CRM is a customer-centric system that stays within the boundaries of the organization and does not extend to non-employees and indirect sales teams. It was never designed to work as a partner relationship management tool as it could not meet the workflow and data management requirements of reseller partners

As the business landscape evolved, and the indirect sales channels became increasingly important for business growth, the need for purpose-designed applications to manage these reseller partner teams became essential.

Fast-forward by ten years—Partner Relationship Management (PRM) solutions came into play to extend CRM capabilities out to distribution and reseller partners. Primarily designed to manage traditional reseller partnerships, indirect sales, and reseller partner teams – PRM solutions catered to partner recruitment, onboarding, joint business planning, lead management, marketing campaigns, sales metrics, and dashboards, and gave the partners controlled access to the platform.

PRM applications enhanced the companies’ and their partners’ capabilities to connect and boost collaboration through dedicated partner portals. But, with the rapid evolution in digital technology, cloud solutions, plug-and-play technologies, and the business landscape, PRM solutions now present some serious limitations. 

Let’s take a look…

Today, we are geared up to co-sell with ecosystem partnerships more than ever—moving away from the traditional and transactional partnership models.

Since PRM systems were created to manage traditional reseller partnerships, they are unable to support partner co-selling and multi-party collaboration. Another big challenge that PRM solutions pose is the siloed framework siloed partnerships and business processes; incapable of handling the functionalities needed to manage your co-sell deals.

More importantly, with the PRM partner portal, you also miss out on the opportunities created by active partner collaboration and co-solutioning. And that deters your business growth. In essence, PRM solutions are obsolete. 

With much ink spilled over these traditional partner management tools, you are thinking, “so where do we stand today?”

At the Turning point…

That has set you for growth and success, depending on what you choose between staying in the traditional partner management (PRM) or getting rolling with the modern partner ecosystem management tools (EBM). 

So, what edge does EBM provide?

An Ecosystem Business Management solution is a comprehensive digital platform—a powerful solution designed to help you and your partner ecosystems achieve your full potential. An EBM platform provides a shared space in which your ecosystem partners can come together and benefit from well-organized partnerships, and Partner to Partner (P2P) collaboration. That said, EBM platforms address all the limitations posed by the traditional PRM solutions.

EBM shifts the needle from working in siloed partnerships to cross-collaborative relationships across multiple partners—at scale. 

Now, here’s real growth for you! Although, plenty stands out for EBM. Here’s a quick scoop. 

It enables YOU to: 

  • Connect all the CRM systems: seamlessly align your and your partners’ data, on a shared network, for secure visibility (between partners).
  • Open new paths and possibilities: co-sell, cross-collaborate, and offer value to the customer that you can’t achieve within your company’s competencies.
  • Drive your partner revenue: go beyond your company borders, and build co-sell partnerships.
  • Grow your partnering flywheel with co-innovation: co-innovate solutions with your ecosystem partners, for growth and differentiation.

  • Track and Measure: your co-sell performance. Prioritize your investments, and double down on partners that are profitable.

To be specific, EBM is – The Next Gen PRM Tool.

Its adoption will establish standard business practices, reduce redundancy, and accelerate cross-collaboration while keeping one goal in mind–shaping a tailored customer experience.

And, this is the route we want to take!

In Conclusion

After working with hundreds of ecosystem-powered organizations across different industries, we know that an EBM platform addresses all the challenges of traditional partner management solutions. It leaps through your company’s borders and provides you with scalable opportunities you miss by operating with the traditional partner management tools. 

An EBM enables you to connect and collaborate with all of your partners on a unified platform, treats all partners as peers on the network, simplifies your co-sell processes, and helps you drive partner ecosystem revenue like never before. 

Ecosystem Business Management (EBM) is the way forward.

Here’s a tip, Go for it! 

Check out our Ecosystem Business Management Principles guide to learn more about the best practices in activating a winning ecosystem. 

Nitika Rawat
Nitika manages content marketing at Workspan. As a content marketer, she loves ideating, innovating, and creating all sorts of valuable content to help partner leaders grow in their business ecosystems. When not at her work desk, she can be found either enjoying a good non-fiction read or training her two adorable pups. She lives in Pauri, a hill station at the foothills of the Himalayas in India.

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28-Page Ecosystem Maturity Guide and Self-Assessment

Inside You’ll Find:

  • The 5 Ecosystem Maturity stages
  • What stage you are in
  • How to move to higher stages and reap the rewards of a business ecosystem