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Telarus CEO Projects ‘VAR Implosion,’ CenturyLink’s Miller Gives Channel Update

… major innovation for others, according to Edwards. Talent becomes more available, and the products and services that increase efficiency become kingmakers.

Take cloud, for example. The recession forced businesses to get away from capital investments.

“You may have thought that cloud was inevitable. Of course it was going to happen. We tried it in the ’90s with application service providers…The fact is in ’08 is when it accelerated,” Edwards said.

The other two unexpected trends are big data and artificial intelligence, and what Edwards calls a “VAR implosion.”

Edwards said a few years ago, the IT distributors he spoke to were projecting 30 percent of their VARs to fall off the map.

“They’re just not making the shift; they’re not moving to cloud; they’re not getting retrained or retooled. Now the number I’m hearing is 60 percent,” he said. “If that’s not implosion, I don’t know what is. There’s a vacuum being created in third party advisory — a vacuum that you’re about to fill.”

Lisa Miller, CenturyLink’s president of wholesale, indirect channels and alliances, gave a data-filled keynote after Edwards.

Miller said her views on the channel have transformed to immensely positive as partners have moved away from “transactional” dealings. And in an increasingly global market, many large vendors view a partner program as not just preferred, but “necessary.”

CenturyLink's Lisa Miller

CenturyLink’s Lisa Miller

“When we look at quarter-over-quarter growth that we show for enterprise sales growth, the indirect channel’s growth is higher than what we’re seeing in our direct channel,” Miller said. “That is a key factor for all of us to understand. Because of that big, enormous market, there is so much value in the partner community.”

And no good channel trends keynote is complete without talking about the next generation. Miller said more channel partner owners are retiring than stepping into the fold. She asked audience members if they are actively hiring millennials, who approach tech buying in a vastly different manner.

“We need to realize, in less than six years the lion’s share of the people at this table are going to be millennials, and they make decisions differently,” she said.

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