Onyx's PRM Portal Push

Managing channel partners is tricky business; they demand sales leads, training, marketing and services from a vendor, while also compete aggressively with the vendor's other channel partners. Onyx Software, a CRM software developer, unveiled today the latest version of its Web-based partner relationship management (PRM) software, Onyx Partner Portal 3.0, which promises to enhance collaboration between a company and its partners. The key upgrade: Partner Portal 3.0 contains a permission-based security model to keep channel partners from seizing sensitive information about competitors. Indeed, lock-tight security of information such as partner profiles, lead distributions and other competitive data is the cornerstone of any PRM solution. "Partner Portal 3.0 is really a significant improvement," says Richard Heitmann, product manager at Onyx. "It has a solid security model that helps companies determine what information they want to share out with their partners." And it's not as easy as it seems. "Aligning sales, marketing and customer-service business processes is a significant undertaking, and extending that type of integration to partners and suppliers adds a considerable level of complexity," said Mary Reeder, vice president of research and development at Onyx, in a statement. Partner Portal 3.0, available and shipping today, is built with XML and integrates with the Onyx CRM platform. Onyx is targeting vertical industries such as healthcare firms and their network of brokers; high-tech companies and their armies of resellers and integrators; and financial services firms. For CRM vendors, PRM represents a natural product extension and way to grow sales, says Louis Columbus, senior analyst at AMR Research. Much of a CRM system's data models and features such as tracking are applicable to a PRM system. Moreover, PRM is a fast growing market as more products, especially in high-tech, flow through the channel, say industry watchers. Onyx's offering is very easy to use, which should give it a leg up on the competition, says Columbus, whose firm uses Onyx's products internally. On the other hand, CRM market leader Siebel Systems hasn't missed the signs either, and also offers a PRM solution. "This is just a shape of things to come," says Columbus. "CRM and PRM are colliding. For CRM vendors, it's really a situation of having to start taking on the indirect channel to grow business."
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