Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 172

March 19, 2023

#172 Kim Sterkendries: Understanding and Addressing Partner Needs: A Key Ingredient to Customer Success

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In this Ecosystem Aces Podcast episode, Chip Rodgers, CMO WorkSpan is joined by Kim Sterkendries, Global Ecosystem Enablement - Commercial Client Segment at Intel.

Kim is a seasoned business specialist with a wealth of experience in the semiconductors and IT services industry. With a strong background in IT strategy, business development, ecosystem management, and service and life-cycle management, Kim has demonstrated his ability to excel in a variety of roles within the international IT community.

His customer-first mentality has earned him a reputation as a trusted and reliable professional, dedicated to providing exceptional service and driving business growth.

Topics covered include:

  • How can you create business value for a solution provider? - 4:06
  • Role of partner feedback in the product team's development strategy - 11:13
  • What’s happening in the market and how it’s changing? - 16:15
  • Process for educating service partners on the new solutions released - 18:57
  • Role of enablement content in solution implementation for GSIs and end customers - 26:18
  • Advice for partnering with partners - 28:22

Chip Rodgers  00:07

Welcome back everyone to another episode of ecosystem aces. I'm Chip Rodgers CMO at WorkSpan and really excited again today to be joined by Kim Sterkendries, Global Ecosystem Enablement for the Commercial Segment at Intel and Kim, welcome.

Kim Sterkendries 00:31

Thanks for having me. Chip.

Chip Rodgers  00:37

Kim, you have had a long career at, at Intel in a number of different go to market roles. And then previous to that with Capgemini, working with Intel, quite a bit. And I'm excited to hear more about your role and the kinds of things that you're doing with partners to make sure they're ready to go to market, both on the partner side, and also internally with Intel with a lot of Co selling kinds of activities happening.

So I'm excited and we'd love to hear. Why don't we start there? If we could, Kim, and maybe share a little bit about what you and your team are up to at Intel?

Kim Sterkendries 01:29

So for us, we are building this team out together with my current manager, Carlos Rodriguez, who has been amazing at getting this thing going for Intel in commercial clients segments. We focus on global system integrators, national system integrators match service providers across the board.

We started building it out, we had this function for a long time at Intel, but we started really building it out three, four years ago. We started with a small team, and now we're, there's about 20 of us. I specifically focus on solution providers. So NSI and GSI etc but I also have colleagues who focus on ISV enablement, etc., integrating our technology to the ISVs, optimizing a product with ISVs. So, like I said, building it out for three to four years now, and going from basically some loose relationships with some of these partners to to some solid technology integrations, and also having them ready to deliver and ready to sell on our technologies which always we are a component supplier. So our technology is never a standalone solution, it always becomes a part of the broader solution that these partners are providing.

And that's really, we want to have that built in as much as we can into not just their whatever ISV solution or package they use but also into their business value and their business models. How can we help you? Can we drive that joint value with these larger system integrators and solution providers?

How can you create business value for a solution provider?

Chip Rodgers  03:29

Interesting. It's really a whole new way of looking at it . So it’s building it into there, but I love what you said, building it into their business models. So it's not just like training materials, it's  how Intel and a partner work together for their mutual benefit?

Kim Sterkendries 03:58

A lot of that on our site is like it's specifically for Intel, it's something that a lot of people don't expect because it's a CPU. It's a piece of hardware that 's part of this device that you use every day. How can that create business value for a solution provider? But for years, I think since Intel's V program was developed, which is now I think, 16 years ago, or even 17 and 23. There has been specific technology on board of those chips to really drive to solve certain IT problems in business . V Pro has always been their business brand.

And yet there's been a lot of value on board that we can't really  that a lot of people don't know about and it's been advocacy for years and years and years. We really shifted that in the last four or five years to go just from advocacy, but the technology, here's what you can do starting 10 years or 15 years ago with the IT department do like, okay, how do we translate that to like a, let's call it let's say global system integrator, like a large global system integrator, they have so many devices they use, they're trying to standardize their software, how can we make sure that it's easy for them to use, it's easy to understand.

It becomes natural, we want to end up with building a stack, like you have, let's say you use Microsoft products, you use teams, and you use the fender, and you manage your stuff at ServiceNow, which is a very common combination. We want to make sure that if you just buy the Intel chipset, or Intel CPU in your device, that you get additional value in each of these pillars. And what I mostly do is I don't I don't talk too much about the value of those things for the end customer.

But it's like, How's that with these partners, how's that going to affect your TCO priorities for these devices that you may not even own but just manage? How can you make that management cheaper and either take that profit for yourself and use it to drive new improvements or whatever you want to do with it or just plainly want to deal with an end customer because you can do it at a cheaper price, because you're more efficient and effective. So that's mainly what we're trying to achieve with this team, both on the ISV side to make do all that prep work.

And then on the solution provider side, I'm the last mile guy, because I'm trying to like pull it through and, and show people that it exists. And that is there. And that by connecting the machine to a certain solution or software stack you can actually drive increased value for business.

Chip Rodgers  06:59

It's interesting because you got those two sides of the process with ISVs on the front end, and really building that technology and those synergies with those capabilities supporting technology. And then the value delivery on the other side. Once you get out to customers, how do those two differ? And how do you see that and in your role with enablement? How do they differ?

Kim Sterkendries 07:36

I think for me, specifically coming from a system integrator, and I've been with Capgemini. For I think about eight years. Having worked on that side of the world, when I was there, I said, my next job would be for somebody who wants to work for somebody who actually makes a product like a physical product. And that happened to become Intel.

In the beginning, I was maybe not ready for that shift yet. Because it's a whole different culture selling, basically, let's call it, disrespectfully, selling boxes, versus selling a service. And I did, I worked hard on like, doing a lot of education, with the people around me about like, what is it about the seller service? How does that business model work? Like I said earlier on a lot of this stuff that Intel was doing in the past, and not just when I came with way before that was focused on how we can solve problems from the IT department.

That was mostly what people did in early to mid 2010, like, early 2000s to 2010. That was the most common thing to do. But then, putting into solution providers in the middle has a few benefits. It can drive a lot of scale, because it's one to many. But also, it adds another business model in the mix. It's not just for IT.  The biggest shift we have to make was the benefits of our products are not only focused on the end customer, there is this value in being in the middle with the middleman that we can provide. And that looks at a whole different set of functionality or a whole becomes a whole different model if you think about that

If I have a 10,000 seat customer, they'll have completely different needs or to a certain extent different needs than somebody who is managing 3 million devices across 20-30 different customers in all slightly different environments. They're trying to standardize but their customers all want to stick with their own thing.

So you need the flexibility but also you need to convince them that like hey this is gonna be good for your business. And where's that value for them in  the middle. Because for us, it's clear like we want to make sure that every end user that is in business has one of our machines or one of our Intel powered machines on Intel VPro, but, what's in it for the partner.

And typically, a lot of our stuff was built to reflect the value for the end customer, but not for that middleman. And by doing that, by changing that by focusing on TCO and scale by focusing on TCO across multiple accounts a huge amount of devices. And then integrating again, the really important part is like all the integration Intel does with the software vendors as well, because it needs to be easy to consume. Nobody's looking for a hard deployment and a lot of extra work and a lot of extra agents and a lot of extra things.It's about showing them the business value, and then making it as seamless as possible for them to use it, and to reach out. So those are the two main focuses I think of the team in the last few years.

And we've been fairly successful in that. Of course there was little hiccup in the market and COVID didn't really help anybody. Although it really helped a remote manageability proposition, I would say. That's mainly, I think the biggest shift is from focusing on the end customers or in our case, often the end customers IT department to like, hey, how do we integrate this kind of service on a bigger scale? And where we worked with a lot of consultants and stuff.

Role of partner feedback in the product team's development strategy

Chip Rodgers  12:05

Interesting. And for partners, like audience partner leaders because you've really changed the product and thinking around how to go to market from, let's just focus on the end customer, the IT department to, hey, we have these other constituents in here, how much is then fed back into the product teams?

When you hear from the GSI? And you came from Capgemini? So you came from that world, how much of that is then fed back to the product team to say, Hey, there's this other requirement that you might be missing? Let's make sure we're capturing that and being able to articulate that value to those to the GSIs is a dynamic that's happening as well.

Kim Sterkendries 13:02

Very much. It's almost a requirement now for a chipmaker, like Intel. This is where my largest learnings came in as well. In services, you want to make a change, you change it. You tell somebody and you change the process, and you maybe adjust some software, and it's done. Now, most of our stuff is two, three years out.

So, like, it's always a little we have a whole team who are absolutely specialists in trying to figure out what is going to be the thing in three years so everything we need to have baked into the hardware, that is that it's quite a long time out. So it's very hard to be flexible towards the solution providers and and especially when things like COVID happen or when there's bigger shifts in the market, like back in the day when everybody was on premise, service management, and then suddenly like ServiceNow, disrupted that market and changed that model.

And it all became cloud and modular and those shifts if it's hardware based, that takes us some time. So it's really important for us to have a finger on the pulse with these partners as well. There's luckily, also a bunch of software and firmware components that were where we can be much more flexible. And with our top partners, we've set up a process now where we basically are in continuous communication about all the topics that matter and we've been talking about sustainability for the last year and a half, two years, especially like it  depends, some things pop up in certain regions.

Sustainability has been a big thing in Europe for a while now. Where in the US, you see it coming up now more and more, but we were already talking with people in Europe to see and to kind of plan how that would go and what we can do better and how we can find some value there. And then, the process starts and gets continually updated. It's a lot of times, that was, of course, in the details in how you implemented and also, again, what is the ISV ecosystem doing, where you can properly plug in. And sometimes you're on the money and sometimes you're way off.

Sometimes, like you work two years on developing something, and it comes out, and it'll be like, well I can't really use that. We've seen that with some of our features, it's really cool features, its remote secure rates, where you can remotely wipe the system, like on the hardware level. And I've been working with our French team for two years to get that certain certification for that, because otherwise they couldn't use it in government and that doesn't still happen. Sometimes you really have a good feature but then there's a certain detail in a certain region, or that makes it so that you really can't use it, which is a pity.

But, luckily, we have, for every three or four of those, we have at least one or two that really drive value. And we see the results of that which is actually great. Even though Intel had a rough time recently with the overall market, we still see that we are driving growth in that business segment. That's a great appreciation that shows us that we're doing the things that we should be doing and we're hitting the spots.

What’s happening in the market and how it’s changing

Chip Rodgers  16:49

To your point when the market and the services and even in software, the ability to innovate, you can put something out into market pretty quickly. And on the hardware side, like you said, it takes two or three years. So you really have to be looking way down the road for anything in your pipeline.

Kim Sterkendries 17:19

On the software side, we're still able to make quicker adjustments. And we have processes in place where we basically on a monthly basis, analyze whatever comes in and feedback from our closest partners and from some of our advisory boards, and prioritize that. But that list, of course, is endless, because everybody's still like, oh, I would like this there. And I would like this, so and whatnot.

And so we're constantly going through these large Excel sheets with prioritizations. To make the changes we can on the software side as well. I think overall, we found a good balance in that. It was like a journey to get there. But like with some of our features or functionality being cloud based as well, which took us a while to do, because I really needed some big changes.

But with that being cloud based with a lot of the IOC integrations ready to go with the big players, we really see a shift in how easy it is to adopt these technologies. And it makes my job actually with the solution providers so much easier. I remember when I started, or when I was actually still even in Capgemini, and was running the Alliance team there for Intel and for the infrastructure side, workplace side.Intel would come to us. And they would talk to us about this one feature that they had, and it sounded great. And then there will be like, yeah, it will be available, like in two years? Do you think this is worth it?

They will have it in two years. And everybody was like, Oh, okay. But I think we made big steps and big shifts away from that. And now basically, being able to show that one of those once you plug in one of our machines into that ecosystem, and that's the whole thing. It's the whole ecosystem, and nobody, there's no like, there's no discussion anymore in large enterprises about I'm gonna buy a laptop and which laptop I'm gonna buy.

It's really just like, Here, my whole ecosystem of software and whether you're at all on all, Microsoft or you have like, a diverse setup or you're doing something with Google or whatever you're doing. It starts with the whole solution stack, basically and I think we've worked and we've come a long way in integrating into that and becoming a solid part of that.

Process for educating service partners on the new solutions released

What's the process for getting the service partners up to speed on new solutions coming out and getting their field teams, their partner teams, their field teams or product teams all up to speed on? What are the benefits? And how is the entire process as a bill of materials, sort of put together? Can you walk us through a little bit of what that looks like?

Kim Sterkendries 20:34

Absolutely. So in terms of the devices and stuff and what they need to get to get a certain thing, we've made that pretty easy. From our side, at least sometimes you need to dig in a little bit with OEM customers and our OEM partners, so that they find the right things, but that's something we're working on as well. But anything that we mostly work with is like I said, our V Pro systems, so anything that has a V Pro sticker on it with the Intel on it, it's going to work with the solutions so we kind of tried to simplify that as much as possible.

So we don't have to worry too much about that now. Which there's two processes. One is, I would say, onboarding a partner from scratch, and especially when we're talking about large, larger partners, and there's still some down the road on my list in different Geos. And we just did a lot of work last year in Japan, for example, which is a whole different world in terms of its own ecosystems and its own players and whatnot. But onboarding a new player would be, we typically go in, do some POCs with them.

Basically, my approach is helping them understand the value for themselves like, Hey, here's the product, look at it, do you see where it is, could be valuable.

And then our next step is typically to try, work with them and prove it in their market. So find a customer to go do some pilots with or some POC persuade them on this specific technology. And then from there,

If those two steps are positive, and we agree that they see the value of the product, and then their customer sees the value of the product, that's when we start working on getting them ready to sell and getting them ready to deliver. And again, it's always our thing that is always a sliver of their bigger solution.

So, whatever solution that system integrator, for example, has, that's the team we'll be working with. That's the team we prove it to, and then we'll just be adding on this, let's say, whatever they talked to a customer about 100,000 seats, and they need managed services. We talked about how much am I going to pay for a seat? And what is my experience going to be? There's really no conversation about, well, what chipset is in the PC, that you're delivering me? Or did I say which chipset isn't the PC that I'm going to buy from the OEM, it's about the experience and the cost per seat. So we work really closely with the teams on the partner side to get as much of our story integrated in that whole process. So that we become part of that experience that we can make that experience cheaper to deliver for the partner, easier to deliver for the partner. On the sustainability side less hands on delivered things for the partner are more secure.

So those, those are the things and it's all basically, once they go to meet their customers and basically sell their services,there might be an Intel logo and a slide here or there. But you will rarely have an Intel pitch. It's all part of the bigger solution. That's really our goal is to be a part of that end to end solution. It's harder than it sounds, because everybody talks about end to end solutions. And everybody talks about  the ecosystem that delivers that, but it's all about proving value to each of the players along the way, the ISVs, the system integrators and at the end the end customers. So, that's what we kind of built.

Chip Rodgers  24:25

Interesting. It's the common theme here that you're always bringing it back to the business value. Not getting into speeds and feeds and underlying all pieces. Even what supports it. But you gotta always talk about the business value.

Kim Sterkendries 24:51

Absolutely. Because that's in the services world. In my opinion, what it's about. We're all targets both on our side and on our partner site is never like how much technology did you integrate? So much like Excel? How much revenue is that making? Or how much additional margin? Can we get out of that? Or how many more deals can we win?

So it's all about the business, it always comes back to the business value if you choose a software package, yes, there's some functionality, but it's all in. It's all in service of delivering, delivering value to your customers and to your internal stakeholders. And that's also like going back to your earlier question. That's probably the biggest shift we're all making at this point.

And I believe not just Intel everybody in that segment like how we are driving business value here? Because if you don't, you're not relevant anymore. We can do science projects all day, if you wish. But, sometimes that happens, we've done that. But, in the end, it always comes down to the bottom line of how much? How much can we mean to grow a company or to grow our market share, etc.

Role of enablement content in solution implementation for GSIs and end customers

Chip Rodgers  26:18

So it sounds like I imagine that a lot of the enablement content, then is also of you talking about enablement content for selling and delivering. It's more about business value and the whole solution. And, what does the whole stack look like? And the value that it brings to both the GSI and the end customer on the delivery side? Probably more, maybe there's more technical kinds of things in there. Is that accurate?

Kim Sterkendries 26:54

Absolutely, it is.  We go from whenever we have a training or anything like that to the audience is very important. And sometimes we get like pre-sales and sales and some engineers together. It becomes really difficult because we go from high level business value all the way down to the nitty gritty technical bits. But that's typically how we spread it out for the sales teams. And even for the pre sales teams, which have a little bit more technical depth on how certain things actually do, what they're supposed to do, or how these things deliver that value.

But that's really about, we're trying to make it as much about the business value and some about the convenience for the end customer and what they get out of it outside of like, as an experience as well, because in the end, those solution providers, or those GSIs are selling in an experience around their match services. And from back from SLA s to XLA, as they're called, sometimes now. So we want to tell that story, how we were part of that experience, we want to tell the story about how we drive value in that place.And then on the delivery team side, it's really like, how can we train many teams to really understand that technology and ultimately use it because we can only drive that business value if it's if we can implement it properly.

And again, there we're trying to make that step as low as possible. Because if I can just work with a plugin into a or like an API into a software stack that you're already using, that's going to make it much easier to drive quicker adoption to have more teams on board, then if I have to do a two week trading session, and have you basically coded into your own solution as it was back in the day, we needed on premise servers, and we needed a lot of a lot of additional work now. Yeah, that's changed file based. We're trying to make it as easy as possible.

Advice for partnering with partners

Chip Rodgers  29:04

Well, Kim, this has been fantastic. Our audience again, is partner managers, partner leaders. And I always like to ask if there's anything that any piece of advice or something you came across you're working with partners, found valuable that you would like to share?

Kim Sterkendries 29:37

Yeah,it's been a little bit of a theme of the talk. It's like just, it always comes down to finding that mutual value, whether that is just in monetary or experiences you can offer or I always been a little bit against the grain in a lot of these Lyons relationships where I'm like, Hey, if you don't want to do it for free, then it's probably not giving you the value you need.

We're happy to do some stuff together when it comes to marketing and things. But if you're not eager to get it, I either didn't explain it well enough, or it's not a great fit. And I think that eagerness on both sides is something you definitely want to see and need. And it's actually awesome. If you have partners that work like that. And we have a bunch of those that make it very interesting for me, and you see automatically that those are also the people you get the best results with.

Chip Rodgers  30:42

That's so true there needs to be enthusiasm on both sides. There needs to be some excitement and momentum to keep it all going just won't go anywhere.

Kim Sterkendries 31:01

Oftentimes, it's not that these people don't care, it's mostly that you have to find the right person in very large organizations because if you work with some of these global system integrators with 450,000 or 700+ ,1000 people you need to find them . A team of four or five that is going to be excited about your product is going to carry that true in that large organization. So it's often still about the personal connection as well getting excited about something together, and then executing on it.

Chip Rodgers  31:39

It's awesome. Kim, thank you. Thank you for some time with us. Really appreciate you sharing your insights and the work that you guys are doing. Really innovative work with both the ISV and with system integrator partners.

Kim Sterkendries 32:05

Thank you very much for having me.

Chip Rodgers  32:09

Great, thanks, Kim. So with that, I will say thank you all for joining us once again for ecosystem aces. And we will see you again next time. Thanks, everybody for joining. Thanks, Kim.

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