Workplace by Facebook. A partner model to die for

Technology vendors rely heavily on partnerships to grow their businesses. Cisco and Microsoft sell over 80% of their products through partners, and Amazon Web Services deliver 100% of services through partners. Partners are essential ‘channels to market’ because they’ve invested time, energy and money in acquiring, cultivating and nurturing customer relationships.

In the collaboration arena, sales people, as a rule, are so focused on selling product that many are reluctant to complicate the sale by engaging partners that sell adoption services because it makes the product sale look too expensive. They worry that a cost increase might lose them the sale, and they’re incentivised only on the sale, rather than on adoption and customer success. This is a mistake and is unsustainable given the big shift in cloud-based and subscription-based licensing models.

But the market is changing. A breath of fresh air has arrived — in the shape of Workplace by Facebook, the Enterprise version of the phenomenally successful social network app. We’ve just attended their partner summit, and the experience was a step change in attitude, mindset and philosophy, light years away from anything we’ve seen before. Here’s why:

By putting as much effort into Adoption as Land, the conversation around renewal with customers is simply a formality.

“Technology Service Providers are starting to get it. Doing [customer success/adoption] the right way doesn’t get you 5% growth, it gets you 200% growth!” J.B. Wood, CEO, TSIA (Technology Services Industry Association)

The Workplace team has a crystal-clear vision and huge ambition for the product, yet at the same time — they are truly humble. They know they excel at connecting people and developing software that people love to use, and they understand that in the enterprise, the notion that ‘launch it and they will come’ isn’t going to happen. With the might of Facebook and almost 2 billion users, they’re not time pressured for a quick return on investment. They’re far more interested in getting the experience right for customers and connecting the 3 billion of us who go to work every day. As Mark Zuckerberg says: “We don’t build services to make money. We make money to build better services.”

This attitude is supported by their simple pricing model. Everything they do is different compared to traditional approaches by the big vendors. They operate in a fast and focused team environment that thinks big with a healthy disrespect for the impossible.

They’re obsessive about user adoption, and everything they do is merited on impact! They don’t congratulate themselves for creating new software features, they’re more interested in the impact on usage. Has a new feature increased daily, weekly, monthly usage? Do people love it? If not think again. That’s how they gauge success. Values that have grown from an engineering culture, support their underlying beliefs and the very way they operate. Move fast, be bold, the job’s only 1% done — are just some of the values they live by.

Workplace by Facebook and its partnering model is for visionaries. It’s for agile system integrators and professional services companies who are willing to bet more on the future than they do on the past.

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