Neil Spicer and Amy McFarland on the new Partner Program

AMD Partner Program – full press conference transcript

AMD has revealed its new channel Partner Program in the UK – here’s the full transcript from its press conference.

Neil Spicer, Senior Manager, EMEA Component Channel: We returned to profitability in the second half and part of that was thanks to a diverse set of new products. 

[We had] wins in our semiconductor business with Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, and whilst that helps us aim for our metric of achieving 50 per cent of our revenue from new and exciting markets, we have to remember one key thing: we are laser-focused on the channel.

When I talk about the channel, some of things that we’ve already seen in 2014, one of the key highlights was Kaveri back at CES – the most advanced APU to date.

In very late 2013 we launched our new stack of Radeon graphics products.

I’ve been a graphics guy now for 13 years, and it’s never been a more competitive stack than it is right now. We’ve had technology revolutions like the Mantle graphics API [and] we’ve had features like True Audio, which is just showing how AMD is able to share technology across the graphics company to a historical CPU company.

"The ‘one size fits all’ approach to partner programs does not work. They need to be unique, profitable and easy to understand."

One of the things that I am massively focused on right now is co-working with our motherboard infrastructure partners in our region, who I believe hold the key to us increasing our market share.

If you look at such things as the Microsoft support for Windows XP going end-of-life, we believe there’s an upgrade cycle coming in the reseller community. And if right now you can buy a platform including a CPU and graphics card for under $70, it’s a great proposition for the channel.

And all these great technology evolvements are just not possible without thinking of the channel first. And in EMEA, we have a very diverse channel – retailers that are system builders, etailers that are disties, multiple country distributors and small in-country companies that sometimes are not recognised by other manufacturers. 

For us it’s very important to try and differentiate ourselves from other vendors: the ‘one size fits all’ approach to programs does not work. Customers and product managers – maybe the buyer for graphics, hard drives, monitors – we need the programmes that we give these people [to be] unique, profitable and easy to understand. So by focusing on the customer sentiment at the heart of all this, I have the great pleasure to introduce the next evolution of how we’re going to evolve in the EMEA channel.

Amy McFarland, Senior Manager, Worldwide Channel Marketing and Programmes: The program has really been in the making for about nine months now. Last year with new executive marketing under Roy Taylor, our VP of channel sales, we wanted to create a new programme that reflected his vision for how we should engage channel partners globally.

Through the process we surveyed a broad range of our partners: partners in all different tracks and of different business models, partners of all different tiers, meaning different sizes, and also different regions globally; both mature and high growth markets.

Through the process we also advantaged industry partner programmes’ best practices. And really through all of that some key findings came to light: number one; our partners clearly want a programme that is transparent [and] that is simple [and] easy to understand. They want a programme that’s consistent; quarter-in, quarter-out, and that they know what to expect and when to expect it. They want a programme that’s disciplined [and] a framework that’s disciplined and delivers them benefits through that framework. And finally they want support that is tailored to help their particular business model grow and prosper with AMD.

A lot of partners in EMEA have multi-business models, so we have built the programme to be very flexible. Essentially the APP (AMD Partner Program) brings these key findings together, delivering a partner programme that we believe is going to thrill our channel partners and help them grow and prosper selling AMD technology.

We recognise at AMD our success only comes if our channel partners are successful. So this programme is for our channel partners and it is to help them grow and prosper selling AMD technology. 

The cornerstones of the new partner programme: aspire, motivate and design. ‘AMD’. These three cornerstones embody the vision and the enhancements of the new APP.

First and foremost, we wanted a programme that was aspirational by design; a programme where partners knew exactly what they needed to do to grow and move up in their tier and gain increased support and benefits from AMD. All the benefits and criteria are transparent to our partners in this programme. 

Next we wanted a programme that was motivational; a programme that inspired partners to want to grow. We’ve got a number of financial benefits that are always motivational for partners, but we’ve ensured that we have other elements that also motivate them along the way.

We talked about AMD wanting to create a programme for our channel partners that is aspirational by design. For a programme to be aspirational, criteria need to be well defined and very transparent. They need to know exactly what they need to do to grow and gain increased benefits. This programme delivers on that.

Partners meet their tiers based on meeting this established criteria, and they are promoted and demoted based on their performance to the criteria over time. We do regular reviews, and our Elite partners, which are our highest-tier partners, receive reviews annually and Premier and Provision Premier – the next two tiers – are reviewed on a quarterly basis. We provide early notification when partner status is at risk, so partners have an opportunity to work with their resources in order to turn it around and be able to maintain their status in the programme. We provide partner dashboards so partners understand every step of the way how they are tracking to their goals.

Partners receive benefits based on track and tier – so a partner’s tier determines the level of benefits that receive, and a partner’s track determines the type of benefits that they receive. And these are considering in a consistent, timely programme.

A partner track is a business model. We engage system builders, retailers, etailers and distributors. Many of our customers have multiple business models, so through the APP we now engage them and support them for all of those business models.

As partners ascend to a higher tier in the programme they are eligible to receive richer benefits, which encompass a wide range of categories. Categories include financial benefits, asset benefits, marketing benefits, referral recognition benefits, technical benefits and materials benefits.

We’re also really excited to encourage partners to participate in multiple tracks, [for instance] for multi-business. We also offer special recognition for our Hero Builders – Hero Builder is a special badge of honour, a supplemental designation to our system builder track. 

Hero Builders are enabled much earlier in the process through early samples, and we want to go to market with them at the time of new product launches and engage them in joint PR and social campaigns.

System builders need a lot of technical support, so [they will be offered] heavier technical support, access to updated drivers and BIOS, training, sales tools, escalated bug fixes and samples – so these are the benefits that are heavier for system builders. 

For all partners we provide track and tier logos that identify their standing in the programme, and they can utilise those to promote their relationship with AMD to their customers. 

We offer partners a broad range of communications so, now more than ever, we’ve spent the last six months really revamping our communications. We are now able to communicate with a much broader range of partners globally, but we can also ensure that we are bringing them the information that they need to grow their business, so it’s tailored to their track and tier.

Now more than ever we have the ability to customise messages to partners, so we’re giving them the information that they need to grow their AMD business. We can customise based on track or tier [and] of course for our heritage partners we can share NDA content. An example of a track-based customised email would be targeted at system builders – system builders need very different information to grow their AMD business than a retailer or etailer, and we can now do that through our communications.

Our Partner Portal has also had a lot of enhancements made to it over the last six months.

It’s a very vital tool for our partners to utilise to gain information and aspects to help them grow their AMD business.

"Hero Builders are enabled much earlier in the process through early samples, and we want to go to market with them at the time of new product launches and engage them in joint PR and social campaigns."

On the portal, partners can not only find APP documentation and all of the associated criteria, terms and conditions, benefits, logos and badges, but they can also find sales tools, that they can download on-demand, marketing assets, to help them promote sales, product training, posted regularly when new products are launched, and a new section called ‘Ask the Experts’, where partners can ask any question they want and we will find the expert to respond to them in a timely manner.

We post many of our videos on the Partner Portal, as well as access to our social properties. Top news and reviews are found on the portal as well, and they’re a great resource for partners building their sales outside of AMD technology. 

Through the resources section we have driver downloads, a listing of all available graphics and motherboards by AIB and ODM partner and industry benchmark information.

I mentioned social properties; partners can also access AMD blogs and forums as well.

Another new section we have is called ‘Sales Opportunities’, and this is the section where partners can gain information about how to grow their AMD business. They can find information about AMD technologies that they may not be reselling today, but that they may have an opportunity to build a business around – things like professional graphics, tablets and so much more.

And finally, one of the Elite-only benefits that is brand new is the opportunity for our Elite partners to advertise on our Catalyst Control driver site. This site is visited by millions of users on an annual basis.

The Hero Builder designation is a new feature of the APP, and we’re very excited about it.

It gives partners the opportunity to purchase a page no matter what tier they’re in. So volume doesn’t matter – what matters is that these partners are very strategically aligned with AMD, they are typically first to market when AMD launches new products, and they are building very innovative products based on AMD technology. We want to engage with these partners in press and social activities when we bring new products to market. We will enable these partners early in the design cycle and ensure they get early samples and that they are prepared to bring AMD solutions to market at the time of launch.

We measure engagement with these partners over the course of the year and the engagement from the perspective of the partner’s website predominately display AMD technology, the partner’s online configurator defaulting to AMD technology and the partner consistently submitting systems for technical reviews when new AMD products are launched, and the partners consistently offering AMD-based system and solutions at the time of product launch.

We have four tiers in the APP: Elite, Premier, Provisional Premier and Select.

The Elite tier is awarded by invitation only, however there are some very specific criteria that are considered in that process – we look at quarterly revenue of all AMD products, so MPU and GPU combined, we also look at quarterly unit share of all AMD products, we look at the partner’s portfolio breadth – does the partner sell a broad range of AMD technology? We look at the partner’s customer breadth – do they sell to a broad range of customers? And finally we look at the partner’s value-added capability – do they offer value to their customers?

The Elite tier requirements include accepting an NDA, accepting the programme’s terms and conditions and reporting of their sales out and inventory on a weekly basis.

Our Elite partners are our most strategically aligned partners globally.

I mentioned one of the exclusive benefits Elite partners get – advertising on the Catalyst Control driver site, which is accessed by millions of users annually. 

Other Elite-only benefits include MAF – or Marketing Acceleration Funds – which is our co-marketing programme, and also invitation to our Elite-only AMD executive team summit, where they have an opportunity to meet with the AMD executive team and hear about AMD’s executive strategies and plans moving fowards.

The Premier team; we equip these partners to help them grow to Elite. We award this partner to a tier based on minimum quarterly criteria.

The Premier tier has similar requirements in place as the Elite team; namely they have to have an NDA on file, they have to accept the programme’s terms and conditions and they also report sales out inventory on a weekly basis.

The Premier partners are very strategically aligned with AMD as well.

"We have four tiers in the APP: Elite, Premier, Provisional Premier and Select. The Elite tier is awarded by invitation only."

Premier partners are eligible to receive the Select and Provisional Premier-level benefits, including rebate programmes, as well as things that are Premier-specific, including Premier logos and recognition plaques, launch participation when AMD launches new products, Premier system builders receive samples when new products are launched, and, of course, all of those benefits are according to the partner’s track and what they need to grow with AMD.

The Provisional Premier tier is really a trial tier.

This gives the partner the opportunity to come into the programme, accept a goal, and work to hit the Premier criteria within two quarters.

This tier is also awarded by invitation only. Once they achieve the criteria, they are promoted to Premier.

If they do not hit the Premier criteria within that two-quarter window, they are demoted to Select and still receive all of the benefits that a Select partner receives. There is a six-month waiting period before they can be invited to participate again. The same requirements apply: they have to have an NDA on file, they have to accept the programme’s terms and conditions and they also report sales out inventory on a weekly basis. The key thing that the Provisional Premier partners receive as opposed to Select partners is participation in our rebate programme: they are given a goal and they work to achieve that goal and hit the Premier criteria in two quarters.

The Select tier is really where the masses of partners join the programme. 

This is open to any partner who wishes to build and grow a business based on selling AMD technology. We primarily engage this tier through our Partner Portal and our partner communications.

The requirements for the Select tier are that they agree to the programme’s terms and conditions. They receive assets to training, sales tools, the full suite of marketing assets, as well as Select recognition – images, logos – and this is all delivered via our Partner Portal.

Neil Spicer: [The Hero Builder tier offers] pre-production samples, early driver and BIOS work with our field application engineers.

The unique selling point of a lot of these in-country Hero system builders is that they are first to market, they can water-cool PCs, they can set world records and they can co-work with us to make sure we develop the right solutions for the channel.

Quite often these Hero Builders are used as benchmarks and other companies, other resellers look up to these guys to see what they are doing in terms of technology. So by partnering with them, we expect them to have PCs at launch with our graphics and microprocessor products.

Whereas normally historically we’d just have a standalone review, we’re going to co-work with these Hero Builders to make sure we are bringing PCs to market at time of launch.

Hero Builders to us is certainly something that fits the whole EMEA region, because we have many in-country system builder Heroes, who are sometimes not on the radar of manufacturers – but we want to recognise them, and that’s why we are really happy to have this Hero Builder track set up as part of our programme.

[To summarise,] as I said before, ‘one size fits all’ does not fit in a multi-diverse market like we have in EMEA. So by tiering and tracking these different customers, it means we can offer unique support to a customer model that might be diverse, that might be different, that might be etail and distribution – and we can offer programmes set up around that model. 

"This is not the same channel that we lived in five years ago. So we’ve evolved the programmes – and that’s why we’re very excited to be launching the new APP."

One of the things that I think is really important is the portal. 

It will be the go-to place for all AMD information. It contains some very interesting information, and a lot of the channel that we’ve worked in – and that we work in today – are knowledge-seeking. They want to make sure that they have the latest logos and product information on their website, and we relay that all through our partner portal.

We’ve realised that as we evolve, as the channel has evolved, it’s not the channel that we lived in five years ago. So by evolving our company, by evolving our products, we need to make sure that at the same time we’ve evolved the programmes – and that’s why we’re very excited to be launching the new APP. 

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