About this time last year, I was chatting with a good friend of mine at one of the major Cloud Providers. He worked on the Marketplace team and I was with Trend Micro, a global leader in cybersecurity where I was driving early adoption of Marketplace selling. We both have been in the industry for a good stretch and have the trophies and the scars from taking products to market through direct sales and traditional channels.
Together, we were doing some pioneering work to change the way buyers (customers) identify, procure, deploy, and manage their software fleet. While my immediate interest was exploring this as a new channel for Trend, my much deeper interest was becoming an expert in Cloud Marketplaces to help shape a major industry transformation. He asked me to check out an early-stage company called Tackle. That was step one in bringing me to my brand new role as Chief Cloud Officer at Tackle a year later.
We all know cloud presents tremendous opportunities for speed and scale—it’s transformative to the way you think about your business, the way you run IT, and the way you build products. It also provides an amazing opportunity to shape the future of how you take products to market.
Cloud is at the heart of business transformation yet I see many different approaches and organizational designs. Organizations are addressing the growth of tomorrow with the same structure, and maybe even mindset, of yesterday. Cloud will force you to think about Software versus SaaS, perpetual licenses versus subscription, large contracts versus consumption, channel versus service provider, bookings versus revenue recognition, and the list goes on. Cloud will revolutionize your business, but who owns the revolution?
In a typical company, everyone is looking at different parts of these decisions through different lenses. Among heads of revenue, product, marketing, channel, finance, alliances, and sales operations, who’s the logical owner for transforming the business? Time and time again I’ve seen the struggle: when everybody owns something, the reality is nobody owns anything.
For Tackle, Chief Cloud Officer encompasses a few different areas: strategy, cloud partnerships, and customer growth. It’s a position we would like to see more companies take on. Your customers are transforming the way they do business and you must join them.
Before coming on board full-time, I got to know the Tackle team and I was fortunate to join their Marketplace Advisory Board in early 2020. This provided the opportunity to share my experiences and even more importantly gave me a window into Tackle’s customers. I loved what I saw: Tackle was helping sellers understand Cloud Marketplaces, get their first products listed on AWS, Azure, and GCP Marketplace, and staying close to those customers to help them scale this new revenue channel. At the same time, I was watching how Marketplaces were advancing, how they were being accepted by B2B buyers, including some really big buyers, and how the partner ecosystem was pivoting to embrace the same. Let’s break these down:
Marketplaces are ready for primetime. The software catalogs across the three hyperscalers offer a good breadth of solutions, the try & buy experience is constantly improving, and enterprise-grade services around billing, reporting, and beyond are being added. We are seeing more software companies pivot to SaaS, some to consumption billing versus traditional perpetual licensing, and their sales teams are finding ways to co-sell with the Cloud Providers.
Customers are getting comfortable buying from the Marketplaces. Buyers are revisiting their procurement strategies and their partner portfolios. Vendor consolidation is a key concern for your buyers as well as the channel partners that serve the customer. Procurement alone is no longer enough; customers expect value-add services for a partner to keep their seat at the table. Buyers are doing 70% of their evaluations before they ever talk to a seller, and if they can make decisions digitally, they will find ways to procure digitally as well. To sweeten the deal, customers are enjoying preferred buying power from the Cloud Providers when they procure additional software from Marketplaces.
Channels are transforming. To the point above, I have been happy to see that the real leaders in the software procurement channel are doubling down on cloud and the value-add services they bring to the table to accelerate cloud migration and digital transformation. The Cloud Providers are opening their arms to welcome these partners in the name of customer success and also as a way to increase scale. Hiring thousands of people a year isn’t as easy as it sounds after all, so expanding reach through strategic channels makes sense.
The big takeaway? Things are lining up. The market for a new way to procure software is huge, still in its early days, and already validated by some of the world’s most respected enterprise buyers. Customers want to buy digitally, and sellers are always looking for the most productive way to capture market share and customer dollars. Execution, well, that’s the hard part. And Tackle is here to make it easier, more predictable, and more successful.
This is why I am delighted to join Tackle as Chief Cloud Officer. We are transforming the way sellers sell and buyers buy enterprise software in a market that is rapidly approaching $500B. We have a stellar team, a SaaS offering that our customers love, and an exciting and well-thought-out vision for the future. The best businesses know their sweet spot. Tackle is an expert at Marketplace selling, nobody does it better. Our customers are experts at building great software solutions. Together, we team up with amazing partners like AWS, Microsoft, and Google, to get these solutions to an expanding universe of buyers through the modern channel of Cloud Marketplaces. This is going to be fun!
About Sanjay Mehta
Sanjay has 25 years of enterprise software experience ranging from early-stage companies to those operating on a global stage. Most recently he held executive positions in the US and overseas in sales leadership and global alliances for Trend Micro where he helped establish Trend as a dominant force in cloud security. He is recognized as a leader in digital selling and has a deep understanding of the transformational journey of selling and buying software in Cloud Marketplaces.