Verizon’s Schijns: Get Moving on 3-Month Plan for Success

CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — Verizon channel chief Janet Schijns on Tuesday told attendees that the countdown to the millennial revolution in the channel has begun. Think you have 12 or 18 months to adapt? Nope. You should be taking steps now.

Schijns says there are three keys to success: Understand your customer and anticipate market movement, attract and retain innovative people, and stay ahead of the technology curve.

Understanding entrepreneurial millennial customers means recognizing that they’re often technical people, and as such, make one critical mistake.

“You concentrate on capturing that one rabbit,” says Schijns. In Amy Acme’s case, it’s connected clothes; for other customers it might be IoT-enabled agriculture or serving the entertainment industry. The point, says Schijns, is that partners are able to see the full herd of rabbits, not just that one. They can bring a fresh perspective and keep the talent pool fresher, often better than customers because a well-connected partner can select from many vendors.{ad}

“They’re not depending on one CIO’s opinion,” says Schijns.

As for the technology curve, she says partners shouldn’t get lost in the “marketing fog.”

“Dynamic Ethernet in a few markets is not SDN,” she says.

Get Ready to Hop

So how do you become that effective partner?  Schijns recommends that partners implement an accelerated 90-day business plan. Your customers expect it — 86 percent of business executives anticipate unpresented tech change.

“Fast is the new big,” says Schijns.

Some specific advice for working with and serving millennials:

  • Don’t think you can’t afford specialized expertise: Millennials are into #CYOB (choose your own boss) and are comfortable with the “gig economy.” Turn to the latest collaboration tools but also social media — she says seven of her top 10 recent ops came through social.
  • Rethink the network for a digital age: What if a customer’s social marketing campaign goes viral with millennials and gets 1 million hits in an hour? Are they ready? Schijns cited the example of a studio that lost $2.50 per ticket to independent movie sites because a Star Wars trailer went viral and servers couldn’t keep up with demand. “This is a wake-up call for how we …


… architect and engineer networks,” she said. “CIOs don’t care about capacity. They care about performance.”

  • Break your own rules: Are you knitting together in your own company the software-defined technology that the Amy Acmes of the world want to use? If so, your sales team can speak about it authoritatively. If not, a faster, nimbler competitor is waiting.
  • Make like a startup and fail fast: “Nothing upsets me more than a partner or team saying ‘I think we have the right plan,” says Schijns. “Given the pace of change, you don’t. Walk in stupid every morning.”

A channel partner can see the future as no one else can, and you own the relationship. What you don’t have, says Schijns, is the leisure to do business the same way as a few years ago.

“You own the relationship. You embrace the latest technology. You understand how to make money,” she says. “Trouble is, you think you have time.”

Follow editor in chief @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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