Channel must innovate to drive new business models

Channel Post speaks with Mohamed Khan, Channel Head – SAP Global Partner Organization in MENA about his long-standing career in successfully leading the channel.

Mohamed Khan, Channel Director – SAP MENA

What is your career history to date and key career achievements?

I joined SAP in 2000, have spent 13 years in the region, and became Channel Head at SAP MENA in 2007. With more than 20 years of IT experience, I have gained in-depth understanding of developing and leading channel businesses in emerging markets of Africa and the Middle East.

One of my most significant accomplishments has been establishing the SAP MENA Channel in 2008, which has since grown to about 130 partners in the region, the majority being resellers and the remainder being systems integrators.

What are your roles and responsibilities in the company as a channel influencer?

As Channel Head – SAP Global Partner Organization in MENA, I have led growth strategies and enabled comprehensive channel development to make SAP’s GB&E business the fastest growing market unit in EMEA for General Business. In my current role, I also cover channel partner recruitment, enablement and management. I frequently meet with channel partners to determine if they’re the right fit to join the SAP channel partner program, facilitate in-person and online training and certification, and manage the day-to-day transactions on sales management and cadence.

What qualities should a channel influencer possess to lead the channel?

Channel influencers need to be a jack-of-all-trades, in that their business touches all parts of their vendors’ and partners’ business including sales, business development, finance and payrolls. The best channel influencers understand their partners’ business, and how to align with vendors’ pre-sales, sales, leadership and consulting teams.

Additionally, channel influencers need to present themselves as account directors who work closely on relationship-building with their partners. The main part of their role is building strong, trusted and structured relationships. Channel teams should be engaging with the C-suite of their partners to develop long-term digital strategies, and coordinate on the resources needed to support the relationships across recruitment, service advisors and enablement.

What is your advice on finding success in the channel?

I would say, channel partners should move from being generalists and ‘box movers’ to being aligned with the biggest vendors, and focus on specializing in certain solutions or industry verticals.

What is the biggest challenge facing the IT channel in the region?

The main challenge is for vendors to find the right channel partners that have staff that understands the latest technology trends, and have the experience in deploying innovative digital platforms for customers. Too often, the region’s channel partners are stuck in only a sales focus of moving boxes. Instead, they need to focus on which digital solutions can best meet their customers’ needs, and develop long-term relationships built on trust.

If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?

Focusing on innovation is the biggest improvement that’s needed in the MENA channel. As the digital economy accelerates regionally, channel partners need to be aligned on how breakthrough technology innovations can drive new digital business models, and transform citizen and customer experiences.

How can partners work effectively to generate growth in the channel?

Vendors, partners and end-users, all need to work together to ensure that the channel is not only growing, but is also digitally transforming and co-innovating. Vendors need to invest in their partners’ transformation, and channel partners need to digitally transform their own businesses and find, train, and retain the right talent.