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Penton Think Tank Takes on Big Challenges, Bigger Ideas

Penton Think Tank at Channel Partners Evolution

CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — Staying competitive in an increasingly converging and rapidly evolving channel, with unexpected new players, was among the issues the Penton Technology Channels Think Tank took on during Day 2 of Channel Partners Evolution.

The think tank includes: Theresa Caragol, founder and CEO of TCC; Sandra Cheek, Ciena’s vice president of global partners and alliances; Jim Chow, Google’s enterprise cloud solution evangelist and strategic partnerships/channels executive; and Dawn Lindsey, BigCommerce’s head of partner marketing and programs.

One of the big issues facing the channel is whether to fully embrace cloud and digital transformation. Chow said roughly 80 percent of the channel is neither cloud nor digital, while in the next four to five years, that will change to just 20 percent. With that in mind, partners need to have a proactive strategy, he said.

When it comes to embracing cloud, Chow described the different approaches he’s seeing: Teachable Tina, who wants to get there and feels they have the right people and skills; Slow Roll Sally, who wants to get there, but feels they don’t have the right people or skills; or No Go Bob, who is content to ride off into the sunset.

“Digital transformation has been going on for the last 20-30 years,” Cheek said. “What has changed is the profound speed of technology and the impact of how the customer is in the driver’s seat now, and that impacts how you … sell and distribute technology. That’s why it’s kind of bubbled up as the ‘it’ term right now.”

As far as new channel ecosystems, Caragol said it’s being driven by rapid convergence, with M&A reaching a high point this year.

“The power is in the end user and they are making their decisions,” she said. “All of these different types of companies are competing now for this IT business so we all have to have our game on and figure out how to compete, to find our niche and how to become their trusted adviser.”

Another issue discussed was the ongoing talent shortage, as well as decreasing interest in technology careers by millennials and women. It’s important to commit to creating opportunities to draw millennials and women to careers in tech, Caragol said.

Organizations that are more diverse and include workforces with differing backgrounds are reporting higher revenues and profits, and more success, she said.

“The average age at BigCommerce is 28,” Lindsey said. “They’re looking for a connection, an opportunity, they want their jobs to have meaning and value. So it’s all about communicating a vision and bringing people into a bigger cause.”


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