28 March 2024

Driving global connectivity: Inside DE-CIX's relaunched partner program

Mareike Jacobshagen
Mareike Jacobshagen, Head of Global Business Partner program at DE-CIX

Q&A with Mareike Jacobshagen

In March, we re-launched our partner program to increase support to enterprise facing partners. Over the last three years, under the leadership of Mareike Jacobshagen, Head of Global Business Partner program at DE-CIX, our partner ecosystem has grown and included new types of partnerships. The new program allows us to extend the scope of benefits to include, in addition to our long-standing wholesale partners and resellers, managed service providers (MSPs), systems integrators and IT consultancies.

We spoke to Mareike about her role, the new partner program, and how we work together with partners to build unrivalled interconnection ecosystems that are used every day by networks, companies, and organizations around the globe to exchange data reliably, securely, and fast.

What initially attracted you to the field of partner management, and how has your journey led you to your current role as the Head of Global Business Partner Program?

I have spent most of my career in marketing, with a strong focus on supporting sales activities and success. Looking for a change into a different field, partner sales management appeared like an area where I could contribute my skills and experiences, and also take on something new at the same time. This proved to be correct, so I have the feeling I have found a good balance of both.

As a leader in partner management, what core values or principles guide your approach to building and nurturing relationships within our partner ecosystem?

For DE-CIX, partners are not only a sales channel, but first and foremost a means to expand our reach so more customers can connect to our platform. This increases the attractiveness of the DE-CIX platform and contributes to its unique position as the leading neutral global interconnection ecosystem. We strive to always meet at eye-level with our partners, because we are very aware of their significance for our business.

Now, the new partner program – can you elaborate on the meaning behind the name “R3”, and how it reflects the program’s core values or objectives?

R3 stands for Resell-Refer-Reach, which are our three main partner categories. The name represents the simplicity of the model and points to the fact that both our partners and DE-CIX can enjoy significantly higher growth – cubed – when working together.

What were the key drivers or learnings that led to the relaunch of the partner program, and how will it benefit partners?

When we started to think about a new partner program, we had three main improvements in mind that we wanted to achieve:

  • Simplicity
  • Coherence
  • Incentive for growth

We wanted to create a program that is easy to understand and easy to leverage for growth. We have achieved that by redesigning our partner categories and introducing a scoring system to reach a higher partnership status, with better commercial conditions and more support.

What are the most exciting new features or benefits partners can expect in the revamped program?

We are now rewarding partner loyalty and commitment over and above just revenue. Numbers are important, but we also want to reward partner commitment when it comes to case study creation, training participation or involvement in our product development process. This is exciting because it helps newer and smaller partner organizations to climb up the ladder to more attractive commercial terms much faster.

Could you explain the changes in the structure or tiers of the partner program, and how they are designed to optimize partner engagement and performance?

We have now introduced a Premium partnership status on top of our standard one. Premium partners will get enhanced benefits and support as well as better commercial conditions. To obtain Premium level, partners need to collect points within different categories, and the partnership status will be re-evaluated at the beginning of every calendar year.

What type of partners does DE-CIX have? Can you give us an overview of the different types of partners who can take advantage of the relaunched program?

We distinguish between three main categories of partners: Resellers, Referral partners, and what we call Reach partners. The first two categories are partners that help us to market and sell our services, while the third category is all about providing more options for our customers to connect to DE-CIX. For the time being, we have relaunched the program for Reseller and Referral partners. Our Reach partner program will be relaunched in a second phase later in the year.

How will the new partner program cater to the specific needs of partners across different regions?

Generally, our new partner program is a global program, so its principles apply across all geographies. We have dedicated partner management resource available with either global or local responsibility, depending on market. We have also relaunched the partner directory on our website so that it better reflects the geographical coverage of our partners.

How does the partner program address emerging market trends and technological advancements to keep our partners competitive and ensure long term value?

With more and more business-critical digital workloads located outside the firewall, secure and high performance connectivity is a cornerstone of any business’s IT strategy. This is an infrastructure must-have that is vital for all tech innovation that involves working with and exchanging large amounts of critical data – be it IoT, AI, or cloud computing. Being able to supply this type of infrastructure increases the capabilities of our partners to deliver innovation.

How do you plan to adapt the partner program itself for future innovations to ensure long-term value for partners?

As more partners join our program and the variety of partners increases, we might add new partnership levels in the future. Also, we are offering sales and technical training options to all of our partners so that they can keep themselves informed about new innovative DE-CIX services and technologies.

How will the partner program facilitate collaboration and innovation among DE-CIX and our partners?

By introducing scoring points for case study creation and product development participation, we integrate our partner base closer into the product and marketing process. Together, we make interconnection easy anywhere. That’s the objective.

What strategies are in place to foster knowledge-sharing and best practice exchange among partners?

We encourage our partners to contribute to our partner comms channels to deliver use cases and share best practices within our newsletters and regular partner webinars. We have already done this in the past, but we have placed a renewed focus on it in the new program.

Customer success is paramount – how can DE-CIX partners leverage the program to deliver exceptional value and solve problems for their customers?

The demand for interconnection is constantly growing. More and more customers are considering a neutral Internet and Cloud Exchange as a suitable way to solve their connectivity challenges. But medium-size businesses in particular do not possess the know-how that is needed to leverage this solution. This is where partners provide enormous value: they are able to take the customers by the hand and offer their own networking skills to help.

Last but not least, how does the relaunched partner program align with DE-CIX’s broader strategic goals and vision?

Our business strategy is based on three pillars: geographical expansion both in existing markets and to new markets, new and innovative interconnection services, and ease of use. We rely heavily on our partners for our geographic expansion – all our resellers contribute to the network of more than 2800 data center PoPs across 5 continents where DE-CIX is accessible. We also make all of our new services available to our partners and provide instant provisioning to our partners through our self-service portal. Moreover, we encourage our reseller partners to implement the IX-API into their own portals so that customers can enjoy a fully automated, instant provisioning experience.