Interview with Matt Connon, SVP, Channels and Partners

Matt Connon has an interesting job at Attivio. As the SVP of Channels and Partners, he gets the opportunity to work with a wide range of vendors and system integrators interested in what Attivio’s platform brings to the table. We spoke with Connon about his role and the importance of partners to Attivio’s success.

A Key Role as SVP of Channels and Partners

Connon leads the team responsible for developing Attivio’s partnerships to accelerate the sale and deployment of Attivio’s software and solutions to end user customers. Attivio focuses a great deal of attention to its channel partners with 50% of total new license revenue coming through channel partners. Connon says this number will grow as Attivio continues to scale and build strong relationships with resellers, ISVs, and other partners.

The Decision to Join Attivio

Connon has been with Attivio for the past five and a half years, first as General Manager of Channels and Alliances, and for almost the last three years as Senior Vice President. Prior to Attivio, he held channel and business development positions in enterprise search and business intelligence with companies such as SwiftKnowledge and Fast Search and Transfer, among others.

Working in the industry gave Connon insights into where the market was headed. He found the technology that Attivio was building compelling as it mixed search and business intelligence in a way others wanted to do but no one else was executing.

There was a lot of attention coming to Big Data with discussions on data warehouses, business intelligence, ETL and more. Analysts were talking about Big Data search and how the technical requirements had grown. For Connon, working with a company that was at the forefront of the conversion in the market was enticing.  Five and a half years ago the legacy search market had matured, with the leaders all being acquired (HP’s acquisition of Autonomy, Microsoft’s acquisition of FAST). Attivio was at the forefront of creating the new category for what the leading analysts now call big data search and data discovery. 

Connon also found the Attivio team attractive, having worked with the company’s founders at FAST.

Attivio’s Partnership Models

Attivio has several different types of partners, and Connon notes that each is valuable for different reasons.

Attivio OEMs its platform to other technology companies. They embed Attivio into their solutions. OEM partnerships take time to develop as the partner works through its product development and release cycles. These tend to be mutually strategic relationships.   

Resellers package Attivio, often with complimentary software such as business intelligence tools, to offer a complete package of solutions to their customers.

Then there are the System Integrators (SIs) and Advisory Firms that architect and deploy industry specific solutions, which include Attivio. The channels team at Attivio is responsible for developing these relationships and the enablement work that is required to make them mutually successful. Connon says Attivio’s recognition as a leader in the big data search and text analytics categories by both Gartner and Forrester is putting them on many SI radars.

Finally, Attivio has a number of Technology Alliances where its platform complements another vendor and they do joint development. Attivio’s technology alliances with BI vendors are a prime example here, but there are others, including a joint development with Hortonworks. Connon indicates that many of these tech alliances are customer driven. If joint development happens through a customer requirement and Attivio sees a greater demand for the combined solution, it will make it on to the product roadmap and eventually be a supported part of the Attivio product offering.

What Attivio Brings to Partners

Connon says the way end users evaluate, purchase and deploy big data and analytics software has changed from traditional enterprise software sales. They’ve found that IT has less influence on the purchase of analytics technology. More often, it’s the business driving the decision because it’s the business using the technology. This has changed the sales cycle and the profile of the partners Attivio wants to work with. It also changes what Attivio can offer its partners.

Aligning technology with the KPIs for a line of business requires subject matter expertise. This expertise comes from the partners. They understand the business and know how the proposed solution can provide business insight and improved decision-making that leads to risk mitigation, better customer relationships and competitive advantage.

Advisory firms and SIs are considered trusted advisors. Their relationships are no longer about maximizing service dollars. Their subject matter expertise and deep customer relationships are built around rapid time to value and results that align with the customer’s KPIs.

Attivio provides the software – whether it’s the Attivio platform or the semantic data catalog product – that helps accelerate the time to market it takes the partner to deliver their solution to the customer. It’s the perfect relationship.

The Partner View of the Industry: What’s Keeping Them Up at Night

For some partners the business model is shifting. It’s become less about the deployment of technology. The increasing use of cloud services for storage, compute, and now analytics has changed things.

Also many new offerings, like Attivio’s semantic data catalog, by design are focused on driving the complexity out of the analytics life cycle and towards self-service. Connon says partners who specialize in industry verticals can offer the subject matter expertise to assemble the best technology (on premise or in the cloud, or a combination) to demonstrate the highest business value. 

What a Wildly Successful Partner Engagement Looks Like

There are plenty of examples of partnership engagements that work, says Connon. But there are two types it has focused on over the past couple of years.

For example, Connon talks about partnerships with SMEs (subject matter experts) in a company or a vertical that helps get Attivio into play with the business, not just IT. Attivio’s partnership with advisory firm PWC’s Advanced Risk & Compliance Analytics Solutions group is a prime example. PWC has been able to deploy multiple risk related solutions on Attivio that the company could not have done on its own.

Attivio’s partnership with PerkinElmer is an example of how Attivio’s solutions can be introduced to a new vertical: the healthcare/life sciences market. This market deals with complex data where volume and variety are high. Expertise in science is critical for success in selling into this market. PerkinElmer generates more than $2 billion in revenue annually selling products, services and solutions to the diagnostics, research, environmental and laboratory markets. Using Attivio’s platform, PerkinElmer recently deployed a solution, which included visualizations with Spotfire that provides a 360 degree view of patients for a leading hospital in China.

OEM partnerships are key to Attivio’s growth. Some of Attivio’s OEM partners focus on a vertical and have deep domain experience. A good example is Attivio OEM partner NICE Systems, which sells a communications surveillance solution to leading financial services companies. Other OEMs develop more horizontal big data solutions and embed Attivio for its big data search and big data text analytic offerings. An example is a recent OEM partnership Attivio signed with a leading storage hardware and software vendor. This OEM embeds Attivio’s platform in its Data Lake solutions. The OEM has relationships with the global systems integrators who bring subject matter expertise to the table. Attivio provides product differentiation and accelerates its OEM partner’s time to market. In return Attivio gets global distribution and exposure to the other partners in the OEM’s big data ecosystem.  

Fun Facts: Favorite App and the One He’ll Never Download

It’s always insightful and fun to see what’s on a person’s smartphone. Connon provides a couple of interesting apps he uses regularly. First is Runkeeper, his private coach that helps with his running. It keeps his stats, recording things like distance and pace. But it also encourages him to run more.

The geekier side of Connon (his words) has the US Constitution App installed. Connon practiced law at the start of his career, so he likes to use this app when he’s looking for something else to think about besides big data.

The app you’ll never see on his smartphone? Tinder. But Connon is married, so enough said.

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