Partnership Insights
Moving From Traditional Partner Management to Ecosystem Orchestration

What does it take to become an ecosystem orchestrator? Avanish Sahai explains the key considerations and biggest differences between this new approach and what partner leaders have traditionally done.

To manage increasingly complex, multi-partner relationships, there is a new need for solution orchestration. In this scenario, a single ecosystem orchestrator will take the baton to strategically lead multi-partner technical solutions, recruitment and management of appropriate partners, and solution implementation, including business and monetary management.

Who plays the orchestrator? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the vendor – any partner or even a third party fits the bill. Having an orchestrator is not about having a scapegoat when challenges arise, but rather it supports innovation by creating new, differentiated business processes and practices.

In September 2021, Pronto’s CEO Swaroop Kolli interviewed Google Cloud’s former VP of ISV and Apps Partner Ecosystem, Avanish Sahai, about the benefits and impact of managing an orchestrated ecosystem. With years of experience leading ServiceNow and Salesforce’s partner ecosystems, Avanish provided a unique perspective on the emerging concept of orchestration.

Transitioning from Traditional Partner Management to Ecosystem Orchestration

Avanish Sahai

Former VP of ISV & Apps
Partner Ecosystem

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There are a few key considerations to consider when becoming an orchestrator, according to Avanish. In particular:

  • Orchestration is a different mindset
  • It advances the stature of ecosystem planning and management
  • Organizational culture needs to evolve, as do BD and ecosystem managers’ job descriptions
  • There are new requirements for new business and technology success metrics
  • New processes and tools are needed to manage complexity
Traditional ecosystems were transactional, siloed, and at an arms-length

For many years, partner ecosystem categories – SI’s, GSIs, ISVs, MSPs, and resellers – had well-defined characteristics and roles. These partnerships typically consisted of a vendor and a partner whose activities were:

  • Transactional - Partners focused on selling point products and were compensated by vendors through discounts and incentives.
  • Siloed - Partners had distinct capabilities and roles, and vendors had well-defined programs and tools and could easily communicate one-to-one with partners via spreadsheets, email, or messaging apps.
  • Arms-length - Partners usually acted on their own, receiving vendor support behind the scenes. Vendors measured product delivery and revenue generation.
Orchestration is a different mindset

How is ecosystem orchestration different?

  • Strategic - Rather than being a distant transactional relationship, orchestration up-levels ecosystem planning and involves C-suite discussions to determine partners that will drive growth that fits with business strategies and goals.
  • Integrated - Vendors and partners need to work together to provide value. Rather than one-to-one relationships, orchestrators manage one-to-many partner relationships. Different classes of partners need to work together, eliminating silos.
  • Aligned - An orchestration model is aligned with the business, not only in the CxO offices, business development, and sales, but also with engineering, product, marketing, and more.

Siloed partner classes are breaking down. Increasingly, partners are no longer staying in their swim lanes, with a GSI working with an ISV or a distributor to create a new solution. Ecosystem managers can no longer rely on traditional programs, metrics, incentives, and tools to manage their ecosystems. The ramification is that partner managers must build solutions based on capabilities rather than traditional partner classes with different programs, metrics, and tools to oversee an orchestrated ecosystem.

Organizational culture needs to change

Organization structure, alignment, and incentive metrics need to change to create close alignment across the ecosystem for every function – engineering, marketing, sales, BD, customer success, etc. This will change how companies innovate and launch new solutions.

Requirements for new business and technology success metrics

Partners need to agree on joint performance metrics that are clear and measurable. There must be proper attribution across the ecosystem, including financial (revenue) and operational (SLAs) metrics.

Partner BD and ecosystem managers’ job descriptions need to evolve

Companies should recruit those who can collaborate across complex ecosystems as well as up and down business functions for partnerships roles.

New processes and tools are needed to manage complexity

New tools and platforms aim to facilitate the management of the system of record, go-to-market strategies, and metric tracking. They can help identify joint sales opportunities and pinpoint the value that each partner is adding. The old way of sharing information with partners – spreadsheets, email, and messages – simply cannot support complex ecosystems.

Pronto can help you become an orchestrator

Pronto’s Ecosystem Management platform was designed to help professionals orchestrate multi-party partnerships in a way that unlocks insights and measurable value. Serving as a secure, shared system of engagement across all types of partnerships, Pronto makes day-to-day management simple. To learn more, schedule a demo or email

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