CHANNEL PARTNERS — What a week.
The Spring 2014 Channel Partners Conference & Expo closed out with a record number of attendees – almost 4,300, 60 percent of whom were net new to the show – as well as a slew of important news announcements for partners, and a host of educational and networking events all focused on strengthening a converging IT and telecom channel.
The week at The Venetian in Las Vegas started on Tuesday with the day-long Cisco Cloud Connections workshop and the seventh Women in the Channel mixer. And then the official conference kicked off Wednesday with education tracks devoted to mobility, sales skills, defining the new network and cloud partners.
By afternoon, it was time for the really heavy hitting. Amazon Web Services and Verizon Enterprise Solutions both took the keynote stage on Wednesday and spoke to a standing-room-only crowd. Terry Wise, general manager – global alliances, ecosystem and channel for Amazon Web Services, talked about how the public sector is leading the way in cloud and using the channel to do it. And because most clouds are hybrid, integration presents a great opportunity for partners, he said, adding that businesses are looking to the channel for cloud consulting/selection, TCO, implementation, migration and, again, integration.
Next up, Janet Schijns, vice president, medium business and channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, wowed partners with a fast-talking, "smac"-talking speech ("smac" meaning social, mobile analytics, cloud) about the value of the channel. "How much is a fireman's life worth?," she asked. The value the channel can deliver totals millions, she said. But to reach that goal, partners must fix two key problems. The first "No. 1 channel miss" is that partners do not market effectively, said Schijns. The second is a lack of pricing expertise. The people in the channel who make money are the ones who help customers' businesses survive and thrive, she said.
To that point, Schijns announced that Verizon Enterprise is releasing 11,000 more customers to the channel so that 98 percent of the company's customers are exposed to the channel. She further said that Verizon Enterprise brought $1 million in marketing development funds to the Spring 2014 Channel Partners Conference & Expo to help partners invest in their business plans.