Unlocking the Power of GSIs

At Channel Focus Virtual, three partnership experts offer advice on building effective strategies that result in better outcomes with GSIs.

By Larry Walsh

The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence has sparked the imagination of businesses of all sizes, prompting them to explore how this remarkable technology can optimize their operations, enhance customer experiences, unlock new market opportunities, and drive incremental revenue. Global systems integrators (GSIs) are leading the transformation, spearheading enterprise digitalization through their extensive and intricate IT infrastructures. Navigating the landscape of GSIs as go-to-market partners is no small feat, however, as they often operate under distinct models, organizational structures, and value propositions.

At the 2024 Channel Focus Virtual conference, I had the honor of moderating a panel discussion on how to best work with GSIs to achieve superior outcomes. The panel consisted of highly esteemed partnership and ecosystem professionals, each with a wealth of experience in their respective fields. Among them were Ross Brown, a serial entrepreneur and industry veteran who recently served as vice president of North America partner ecosystems at Oracle Cloud; Jules Johnston, vice president of channel sales at Equinix; and Balaji Subramanian, a seasoned channel professional who’s held leadership roles at Informatica, ServiceMax, and Zuora.

Outcome-Oriented Approach

Jules Johnston

One key takeaway from the discussion was the importance of adopting an outcome-oriented approach when engaging with GSIs. As Johnston pointed out, “GSIs focus on delivering transformational projects and business outcomes for their customers, rather than simply selling products.” Vendors must align their offerings with GSIs’ industry solutions and reference architectures to demonstrate value and relevance.

Industry-Focused Enablement
The panelists also emphasized the significance of industry-focused enablement. “Engaging with industry-specific practices and leaders within the GSI organization is crucial for gaining traction,” said Johnston. Vendors can effectively position themselves as valuable partners by developing use cases, reference architectures, and messaging that resonate with GSIs’ industry-focused go-to-market strategy.

Service Revenue Pull-Through
Another critical aspect of building successful partnerships with GSIs is demonstrating service revenue pull-through. “Vendors must demonstrate how their offerings can drive service revenue for the GSI partner,” Subramanian said. “Quantifying the service dollars generated for every dollar of product sold helps justify the partnership and protect margins.” This approach ensures a mutually beneficial relationship between the vendor and the GSI.

Patience in Building Relationships

Balaji Subramanian

“Building successful partnerships with GSIs requires patience and a long-term outlook,” added Subramanian. “Vendors should be prepared to invest time and resources in developing relationships at multiple levels within the GSI organization.” By nurturing these relationships, vendors can establish trust and credibility, laying the foundation for fruitful collaborations.

AI-Driven Transformation

The panel also discussed AI’s transformative impact on the GSI business model. “The rise of AI is transforming [this] model, shifting from a focus on head count and billable hours to automated tasks and outcomes,” said Brown. As GSIs increasingly view AI as an opportunity to accelerate digital transformation for their customers, vendors must adapt their strategies to align with this new paradigm.

Ross Brown

By adopting an outcome-oriented approach, focusing on industry-specific enablement, demonstrating service revenue pull-through, building long-term relationships, and embracing AI-driven transformation, vendors can unlock the power of GSIs, drive success in the channel, and capitalize on the immense opportunities presented by the rise of AI.


Larry Walsh is the CEO, chief analyst, and founder of Channelnomics. He’s an expert on the development and execution of channel programs, disruptive sales models, and growth strategies for companies worldwide.

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.