Matt has over 20 years of experience in the tech industry, building valuable partner networks, as well as running direct and indirect sales teams.
Matt and his growing team have been working on developing enhancements to the Neo4j Partner Program to expand the benefits to our partner network and to accelerate adoption of graph technology in Neo4j. Welcome, Matt.
Julia Astashkina: Could you tell us a little bit about your role at Neo4j?
Matt Connon: I joined the company in January, so it’s been about six months. The position that I’m in is a newly created position that the management felt was important to add to the team, focusing on the growing importance of partners to the company’s growth and to our ultimate customers’ satisfaction, partners have been key to the growth and to a lot of the innovation that Neo4j and its customers have enjoyed. And the thought was to put more focus and resources on developing the partner ecosystem, working with existing partners and new partners to really grow our leadership position in the graph database space.
Prior to joining Neo4j in January, I was Chief Revenue Officer for the Attivio, which was an enterprise search software company. And as you said, I’ve been working in similar roles for similar, both venture-backed and publicly-traded companies since about 2000. So, coming to Neo4j was an excellent opportunity to build on the momentum that the company has in the market and the incredible momentum that we have with partners, developing innovative solutions with our database technologies.
Julia: I was wondering if you could walk our partners through some of the changes in the new Partner Program.
Matt: Some of the changes have to do with the resources that we’re making available to partners, and I’ll get into the specifics on those resources. But the company views the partner ecosystem, as I mentioned, as very strategic. So, there was a decision to put much more resources in helping to make partners successful. So, my being here is one of those resources, but there’s others that we’ll get into.
It is a global Partner Program, and it’s really intended to provide the right level of technical enablement sales and marketing support so that partners can accelerate the development of their graph practices, and most importantly, their business based upon graph database technology, specifically Neo4j’s. With our leadership position in the market, partners are more important than ever to drive the continued growth that we’ve had and to drive the value to our customers.
One of the things that we’ve introduced are different tiers within the program, so as partners develop more business for themselves and for Neo4j, they’ll have access to more sales, marketing, and technical enablement resources, and they’ll enjoy higher tier benefits ranging from a margin that they can achieve through working with our products, to sponsorship opportunities at some of the global events that we run that we’ll speak more about in a few minutes.
So, it’s really an extension from a good foundation that we had with the partner program, but bringing more resources to bear and providing more benefits to both existing and new partners who entered the program.
Julia: Why should prospective partners be interested in joining the Neo4j Partner Program?
Matt: That’s a great question. Whether you’re an ISV or a global systems integrator or a growing technology solution focused organization, developing competencies in the area of graph databases and in developing graph-based solutions will definitely be a catalyst for rapid growth and for developing very valuable customer relationships.
We’re at a very unique time right now as a company and in our space. Gartner recently observed in their top trends for data and analytics in 2020 that, through 2022, the application of graph processing and graph databases is going to grow at more than a hundred percent annually to accelerate data preparation and integration and enable more adaptive data science. So, that’s a really important reflection that Gartner has. And clearly, that reflection and prediction is based upon what they see and hear from their enterprise customers.
So, while graphs have been growing rapidly, we’re really at the beginning of the wave. And that wave is something that our partners can take advantage of. And now is really a great time to be taking advantage of the resources that we brought to bear within the Partner Program. And being the pioneer in this space, and being the company that has the most adoption within the Global 2000, we really encourage partners to take advantage of our expertise and incorporate their own innovation and subject matter expertise to drive adoption of graphs and to drive more, very high-business, impact-value solutions.
Julia: What are maybe some of the resources that are available to partners other than under the new program?
Matt: Neo4j offers a level of support and resources that no other vendor in this space can match. Let’s start with our developer community. We have more than 150,000 active members globally, the community of thought leaders and practitioners in all things graph. It’s an amazing resource to graph database novices as well as experts. There’s free training certification, there are local events, there are discussion groups.
So, just that groundswell of graph expertise in the community is something that all partners can immediately benefit from and identify other thought leaders and really come to and grow their knowledge of graphs and to begin to promote their own solutions in graph. Next, I’d look at the amazing job that our marketing team does running the largest graph-focused events in the industry, attracting attendees from the Global 2000, from governments, from academia. These are amazing events.
They, historically, have been in-person events, but the team did an amazing pivot, and given the challenges that we’ve experienced with the pandemic this year, and these have turned into virtual events and the registrations and attendance numbers at these events is extremely impressive. We’ve connected with thousands of people over the past 90 days through running these events.
And it’s something that our partners have an opportunity to, not just attend, but to participate in, to have sponsorship opportunities, to showcase their solutions, and even just attending whether it’s what will hopefully, again, be some in-person events where there’ll be networking opportunities, but also through the virtual events, also identifying with others in the field as a benefit. So, these graph events are really a tremendous benefit and opportunity for our partners to participate in.
Next, I’d look at the team that we’ve developed at Neo4j to help our partners get onboarded and help build successful graph practices. We’ve added to our channel team, which was the foundation in Americas and the U.S. federal, and we’ve added channel professionals in Mia and Asia Pac. So now, in all of the geographies around the world, we’ve got dedicated channel executives who can really work closely with our partners in business planning, sales and technical enablement, and coordinating sales activities with the broader field organization at Neo4j.
And then, another group that offers great support for partners is our Professional Services organization. The PS team works very closely with partners offering advanced training and certifications in different types of specialties around our graph technologies and solutions.
They also work collaboratively with our partners on joint customer engagements. Doing things like design reviews and helping to ensure successful projects with high levels of customer satisfaction is a great benefit, and offering things like solution frameworks so that our partners really can jumpstart the development of a graph practice based upon the years of experience that we have executing successful projects with our customers.
If you look at that in its entirety, like I said at the outset, it’s really like nothing else that’s available through any other partner in the ecosystem, and it continues to get better and better with more resources coming into it. So, I think those are some of the reasons why it’s a great time for a prospective partner to engage with us.
Julia: And what is the timeline of the new Partner Program launch and maybe what are some of the actions that the existing partners are expected to take?
Matt: We’ll be rolling out the updates to the program during the month of July. For those that are existing partners, they’ll work with their channel manager through a process to reapply and to determine what tier that they’ll reenter the program in, whether it be the associate level or the premier level.
And for prospective partners, they’ll be able to submit an application on the Neo4j website. And that will result in getting connected with the appropriate channel manager in the geography where the partner is headquartered, who’ll work with them on determining the requirements that can be met in order to join the program.
So, this is happening as we speak, and we’re really looking forward to this as an opportunity to re-engage with partners that we’ve had relationships for years and to identify new relationships that can help us expand into new areas, new areas where certain subject matter expertise can be of great benefit to the company and our end user customers.