THE FOCUS OF ATTENTION lately has been on the impact of industry consolidation. PHONE+ devoted its cover story to it yet again last month. While this issue does not contain an article specifically on market consolidation, it informs everything our editors are writing about namely how to weather it. There are many ways the primary one being to stay informed. PHONE+ is working on ways to help you do that more easily.

Of course, PHONE+ is the sponsor of the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, which is being held this month (more details). I am thrilled to report the show floor is sold out and attendance is up over previous East Coast events. These developments seem to support my theory that the channel is looking for answers. So, we will endeavor to provide them.

A few of the educational sessions at the event speak directly to the consolidation question. The kickoff executive roundtable, Surviving Consolidation, is one example. (Read this months Soap Box on Page 8 for panelist Greg Praskes take on the issue.) And, there is a follow-up session delivered by COMPTELs CEO Earl Comstock about regulatory developments that stand to alter the rules of competition. Moving to a micro view, there will be a session on managing back-office changes with merging vendors.

Other sessions offer insight into new opportunities that can help the channel spread the risk across a greater number of products and providers. Satellite and mobile wireless services are two examples, but there are many more to discover within the agenda and on the show floor. One of those is IPTV from exhibitor Prescient Worldwide (read story now).

We also are making it easier for you to locate the information you need by renovating the PHONE+ Web site and instituting a new content-management system to group articles by type and topic. The search function still works, but if you arent exactly sure of what you are looking for, our new system should help point you in the right direction. If all goes according to plan, the new site will be in place this month.

We have, as you know, set out to help raise the bar for sales professionals with a training and certification program (see This effort is important in many ways, but consider, if you will, this distinguishing characteristic: Certification increases your value to your customer and, thus, to your supplier. I bring this up because it is very important that the channel continually advocate for itself in order to win favor from vendors.

Along these same lines, PHONE+ has supported new research about the State of the Channel (read story now). This data is important in quantifying the significance of the indirect sales force in selling network services. For many of you, the results will confirm what you already guessed to be true, but for others some vendors and many regulators this information is brand new. Supporting these efforts only will strengthen the channels position in the marketplace, affirming its contributions.

All these efforts might seem to support a claim, the sky is falling. I dont mean to overreact; there are plenty of opportunities available to support a thriving channel many new ones will be launched at the Channel Partners Expo, in fact. But it cant hurt to identify the causes of potential grief (even if its just an errant acorn) and seek to head them off.

group editor

Channel Partners Conference & Expo
CSP Certified
Prescient Worldwide

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