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Case Study: Customer Retention and Revenue Growth

We have undertaken key Competitive Intelligence (CI) project in the area of learning certifications, particularly in the context of how incumbent vendors such as Cisco, HPE, IBM, and others market and monetize their learning offerings to their enterprise and service provider end-user customers.
For this project, our client - a leading global network equipment vendor - had received many awards from "Pay-for-Play" analyst firms for its approach to learning certifications. However, in reality, our client was seeing declining demand and pressure from its learning partners to provide more incentives. Our client used our double-blinded and evidence-based methodology to get to the bottom of their real issues.

Our client is a market leader in the networking space. Crucial to their successful transformation into new areas such as virtualization, software-defined networking and the related hardware and software products is their learning partner network. The Client commissioned us to conduct a double-blinded study with executive-level interviews with their leading Learning Partners (LPs) in order to gain a better understanding of their relationship with their LPs, with a focus on issues such as learning partner wants and needs, LPs' views on our Client's key competitors' relationships with their LPs, and views on industry trends (such as Cloud certifications), training in areas such as SDN, NFV and training packages in complex transformation programs, etc.  

The scope of this project covered 20 interviews within executives from our Client's key LPs. These executives were selected from within two groups: senior executives in business/marketing/sales roles, as well as experts in training/instruction/content development roles.
The client's challenge was to obtain a broad cross-section of executive interviews across various geographies and LPs. 

With this project, we were able to present to our Client their strengths and weakness, and the areas in which their LPs perceived them as lagging. The learning partners we interviewed were largely satisfied with our Client's support in terms of marketing, product development and innovation supports, and financial incentives.
However, we found that LPs in this space were dissatisfied with vendors (including our Client) who did not give enough leeway in terms of repurposing their content, and also being less flexible in terms of pricing for regions such as the APAC, where there is rising competition from low-cost, unregulated "grey market" training companies. We complemented these direct interview insights by providing our Client with expert-backed suggestions on how to counter these weaknesses/gaps in their channel strategy.

6 Channel partners targeted
180 Executive profiles generated
20 Double-blinded interviews (11% response rate)
12 Weeks to project completion

Based on the knowledge gathered from our interviews, we summarized that our client's strategy would have to focus on three immediate concerns: 1) increase the amount of training resources it is spending on new areas such as virtualization, IoT and cloud services; 2) region-specific pricing and financial incentives/discounts; and 3) maintain an equilibrium between full control of content and allowing repurposed content. This approach now forms the core part of our Client's channel partner strategy.

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