To keep up with demand from customers, Salesforce is going to need 10 times the number of consultants in the next five years, according to data based on recent research from IDC. To support this, the company plans to roll out updates to its Salesforce Consulting Partner Program starting Mar. 1, 2017.

According to an announcement on Thursday, the updates to the Consulting Partner Program, which Salesforce launched two years ago, are designed to help partners develop expertise across cloud capabilities, access more training for consultants, and specialize based on vertical knowledge.

The program updates align with Salesforce’s greater goals, according to Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, senior vice president of partner programs at Salesforce.

“What you’ll see in the changes to the program will be aligned to the industry focus and then our acquisitions and new product areas,” she says in an interview with Talkin’ Cloud.

Salesforce started working on the updates after Dreamforce, Taychakhoonavudh says, and feedback from partners has been positive, particularly around the new opportunities based on Salesforce acquisitions.

“When I talk to partners they love that the Salesforce acquisitions give them more opportunity, more products to play with, more places to go with their existing clients,” she says.

“Any partner working on Marketing Cloud was very excited to have an e-commerce solution now from Salesforce which maybe they had to go get from another vendor before [the Demandware acquisition]; now integrated into our Marketing Cloud offering,” she says.

The updated program has an increased focus on cross-cloud capability, and tiering now involves an emphasis on partners becoming certified across more products, according to a blog post by Salesforce.

“You could be a great partner in a single area and have deep expertise in a single cloud or product but we really want to encourage our partners, based on customer feedback, to go across multiple clouds and think about a holistic solution to solve the customers’ problems,” she says.  

“When we’re looking at placing the customer at the center of everything in a customer-360 kind of way, that hits sales, that hits service, it hits marketing, and so…that cross-cloud emphasis is a big part of it.”

To drive more consultants in the Salesforce ecosystem, partners who train their consultants with multiple certifications will achieve higher levels of tiering, accessing more marketing, technology, and business resources under the program, according to the blog post.

“Our Salesforce University team is releasing new certifications; specifically the two that are just coming out are around Community Cloud and Commerce Cloud. Those are two newer subject areas and with the new certifications we have a very objective way of measuring an individual’s knowledge and expertise in that area, so we’re making a big push around that with our partners,” she says.

With a greater emphasis on certification, the partner organization and industry organization at Salesforce have merged to better train consultant partners.

“We continue to focus on labeling our partners and getting them skilled up in different areas, that we also train our partners on all of our industry go to market,” Taychakhoonavudh says.

Finally, Salesforce Consulting Partners are now able to specialize across product and industry based on their implementation experience, according to the announcement, building on the trend towards partner “veriticalization” that Taychakhoonavudh identified as an area to watch in 2017.