Forrester has put a spotlight on partner relationship management (PRM), a not-so-new but somewhat low-profile channel supporting solution category.

In its recent report – The Forrester Wave: Partner Relationship Management, Q4 2018 — the research firm noted that companies have invested in PRM since the early 2000s. But “as CRM started to grow significantly in the mid-2000s, it challenged PRM as the core source of truth for indirect sales. PRM then went through a retrenchment period before it rebounded in the past five years as a critical horizontal platform,” Forrester noted.

Indeed, experienced channel professionals told CMR they only became aware of PRM in the past few years. And solution vendors offering PRM technology agree that unfamiliarity with their solutions is not uncommon.

Forrester attributes the renewed interest in PRM to general upheaval of the traditional channel landscape. “The PRM market is growing because B2B channel professionals are seeing a sharp increase in the variety of partner types,” according to the report. “New shadow channels come with different business models, and channel pros need to manage them more like influencers, advocates, and alliances than traditional resellers.”

Jay McBain, Forrester Principal Analyst Global Channels

Jay McBain, Forrester Principal Analyst — Global Channels

With modern PRM solutions, channel executives can more effectively and efficiently optimize workflows and scale or personalize partner programs. “B2B channel pros are moving away from the shotgun approach of the past — amassing a long tail of dormant partners with the hope of activating them with the right mix of incentives and charm,” explained Forrester.

it added that partners are “placing their bets on — and giving their loyalty to — brands that offer the best PRM systems to smooth their business processes and knowledge transformation and drive joint opportunities.”

Investments in PRM solutions are expected rise significantly in the next five years. In a recent blog, Jay McBain, Forresters’ principal analyst, global channels, wrote that the PRM software market is expected to grow to $679 million by 2023, a CAGR of 14.2%. An additional $971 million will be generated by 2023 in downstream technology services in this ecosystem.

PRM systems package several important functions, including:

  • Partner management
  • Planning and contract management.
  • Performance management
  • Partner portal/content management
  • Partner opportunity management
  • Partner marketing management
  • Business intelligence and channel data management.

In its report, Forrester reviewed a list of PRM solutions, based on a broad set of criteria. The leading suppliers of PRM solutions include:

Strong performers included:

Listed as contenders were:

More information about the Forrester report is available here.