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8×8’s John DeLozier: We’ll Stay ‘at the Front of the Class’ in UCaaS

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Throughout 2018, we’ve been spotlighting our Channel Partners/Channel Futures Channel Influencers of the Year, selected by our editorial team for innovation in the “new channel.” (Read our profiles of Comcast Business’ Craig Schlagbaum, Forrester’s Jay McBain and TPx’s Hilary Gadda.)

About the time we were to interview John DeLozier, another of our honorees, he dropped a bombshell: He was leaving his post at CenturyLink to become the new global channel chief at 8×8. It would be our most-read story in June.

So we wasted no time in hooking him for an episode of the Channel Partners podcast, “Coffee With Craig and Kevin.” What follows is the transcript from our chat with DeLozier. To listen to our full conversation, click here.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Kevin Morris: What was it that drew you to 8×8, leaving behind what many would think is a pretty good gig at CenturyLink, not only in the channel, but in communications period?

8x8's John DeLozier

8×8’s John DeLozier

John DeLozier: I get that question as you can imagine every day. I can tell you that the folks at CenturyLink were nothing but good to me. Lisa Miller, [president, wholesale, indirect and alliances] and Garrett Gee, [vice president of indirect sales] and that organization over there are going to be just fine. But somebody told me a long time ago that you don’t ever want to run away from something; you want to run to something. And that’s what I did. Remember, I come from the collaboration/UC/contact center industry. That was my passion; that’s what I did for years and years before I made it to the provider side. So, really what we’re doing here is what we did in the late ’90s and 2000s, but we’re doing it in the cloud. So not only was it an opportunity to go to something that I love, but it was also an opportunity to join an amazing company … We own all of our own software, in the midst of a $50 billion industry where there’s about 10 percent penetration. Honestly, it was an easy decision for me. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had to make the move.

Craig Galbraith: Let’s look back at your time at CenturyLink. You were there more than two years. What are you most proud of from your time there?

JD: We had such a good run there. … What I’m most proud of there is our partner program. CenturyLink was one of the companies that invented the channel as we know it today. Their program for years and years was very much at the top of the food chain. And I think over the last few years, it got – stagnant is probably way too tough of a word – it got a little dusty. Bill Corbin, [senior vice president of channels and alliances, 8×8, and formerly SVP, alliances and strategic partnerships, at CenturyLink] and I were able to come in and dust it off and put in place a real program fit for purpose that I think will go on for years to come. So I was really proud of that medals program – Ascend – that we were able to put in place at CenturyLink.

KM: What are some of the first things that you plan to take on as channel chief at 8×8?

JD: We try to keep it simple over here, Kevin. We try to keep it simple wherever we go. The fact that Bill Corbin and I both ended up here is a huge plus. He can cough two times and grunt, and I’ll probably know what he means based on the fact we’ve worked closely together in the past. It’s really three things. The first is build[ing] a team fit for purpose. The good news is we’ve inherited a lot of good folks here, and there are some other good folks who will probably wind up joining us. That’s a nice plus. The second thing is to …

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