Record Channel Partners Crowd Features Diversity

By Josh Long Comments
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More than 2,500 partners and suppliers from the channel community in the IT and telecommunications industry attended the Fall 2011 Channel Partners Conference & Expo last week in Chicago, making it the largest in the event’s 15-year history.

The event featured more than 50 hours of programming, nine hours of networking and more than 120 exhibitors and sponsors.

“Channel Partners Conference & Expo was a success directly attributable to the quality of the program," said Larry Lannon, group publisher of VIRGO's Communications Network. “Once again, we significantly improved the program and introduced several successful new program elements, including the Selling Techniques Luncheon and the Channel Partners Zone, or CPZ, and an improved level of interactivity in sessions."

Channel Partners hosted the event, Aug. 24-26, at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, drawing an eclectic group of attendees ranging from master agencies to value added resellers to such large telecommunications carriers as CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications.

“I was happy with the positive response we once again received to our program," Channel Partners Editor-in-Chief Khali Henderson said. “We built on a long history of strong programming, including recent innovations from our spring event like Women in the Channel, the Cloud Convergence Council and the Agent-VAR Workshop, by layering in totally new elements, like the Selling Techniques Networking Luncheon and the CPZ, and by expanding the interactive elements of the program."

Dan Ring, new business development director with PGi – a company specializing in video, Web and audio conferencing solutions for enterprise customers – articulated one of the benefits of the show. In an interview on the show floor Thursday, he said his company could cold-call potential partners for months and still not get four solid leads, which he obtained that day. He also said it is nice to see what other vendors are doing and connect with individuals his company is trying to do business with, providing the opportunity to “press the flesh."

On the show floor last week, the atmosphere was relaxed, although plenty of business cards were passing hands. The booth at Access One, a facilities-based carrier in Chicago, featured a small putting green for golf fanatics. At the Time Warner Cable booth Wednesday, two men played a car game on Xbox 360 without any physical controls. On Thursday evening, Telesphere – a managed cloud communications provider for businesses – had the tallest presence with a red-headed gentleman walking on stilts. Not be outdone by its neighboring booth, master agency X4 Solutions featured a bevy of booth babes with white pants and orange T-shirts.

But all distractions aside, VIRGO CEO John Siefert summed up what the show really means for channel partners.

“Channel Partners is all about adding business value to the channel," said Siefert, who participated in some events at the show. “That is why participation is important and rewarding. Partners can obtain competitively significant insights, information and understanding at Channel Partners’ events, and in our media."

The next Channel Partners Conference and Expo will be held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, March 27-29, 2012.

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