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MicroCorp’s Karin Fields: Watch for More Channel M&A

James Anderson**Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of profiles featuring Channel Partners advisory board members. Meet Fields and the rest of the board by attending Channel Partners Evolution, Aug. 14-17, in Washington, D.C. Register here.**

The channel landscape has changed dramatically during Karin Fields’ tenure, and she’s a fan of that.

The CEO and COO of distributor MicroCorp says her conversations with partners and end users have shifted from simply talking about the network to a more complex discussion of technologies like storage, security, colocation and data centers.

While many traditional partners show reluctance to fully embrace the new trends, Fields tells Channel Partners she’s fascinated by the prospect of the future.

“It excites me even more and more, and the conversations that I’m having with our partners and the conversations they’re having with their customers are so much more interesting than just talking about an MPLS network,” she said. “I think that the next four to five years are going to be really exciting.”{ad}

As a result of the diverse technologies, she says now is a great time for companies that are niche players. Customers are now more willing to take the best-of-breed route for different product sets.

“Whether it’s an organization that just does hosted voice or an organization that just does infrastructure-as-a-service – those are getting a lot more interest from customers,” Fields said. “They no longer feel compelled to put all their eggs in one basket with one big name-brand provider.”

And Fields said the partner who lacks knowledge in a specific niche technology must find help in the partner community before the customer pursues someone else.

“Even though they may not have the expertise, they need to be able to partner themselves with someone in their community that has that expertise – that they can call in and say, ‘Hey, I’m not the data center guy, but I work with somebody who is,’” she said.

That ties into one of Fields’ biggest pieces of advice to members of the channel. She says that because the industry is relationship-based, it’s important to be proactive to maintain connections. She says sometimes that means …

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… taking a step back from a heated phone conversation to evaluate both sides of the story.

“It’s important to maintain good relationships all around,” she said. “The person you may be so angry with on the other side of the phone may be someone that you need desperately three weeks from now.”

And in addition to the niche players having their heyday in the near future, Fields predicts that the upcoming years will see more and more mergers and acquisitions. She cites ShoreTel’s 2012 acquisition of M5 Networks as a good example of how companies in the channel may try to handle the changing technology landscape.

“You can build it, you can buy it or you can borrow it. With the way the economy’s going, I think that more organizations are going to opt for buying it. And I think it’s going to be interesting to see who ends up buying whom and why,” she said.

Fields’ passion for the channel has grown since joining MicroCorp in 1994. The company already had existed for nine years under the leadership of Fields’ future husband. She had wrapped up a business degree was pondering going to law school.

“I told him in the beginning, ‘I’m just going to do this until things slow down.’ And here I am,” she said.

At MicroCorp she has served in a variety of roles from provisioning orders to pricing. The company promoted her to CEO in 2014. In addition to her accomplishments with MicroCorp, she is a founding member of Women in the Channel and was recently named to the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board.

“I’m still here, and I love it. I love our industry; I love where it’s going; I am excited about all the possibilities of what’s happening within our industry,” she said.


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