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Your Front-Row Seat for the Future

ITS GENERALLY CONSIDERED BAD manners to toot your own horn. I say this only to offer my mother plausible deniability against potential accusations that I was not taught this life lesson. Nevertheless, I am going to do it anyway. (Sorry, Mom!) To start with, I am pleased to tell you the Channel Partners Conference and Expo is celebrating its 10-year anniversary (see related story). Its definitely a remarkable milestone. Its the first grouping of years that has its own name decade. When you put it that way, it does seem more auspicious: Channel Partners Marks a Decade.

In light of this, I got to thinking about what gives something longevity. Why does one product do well when another flops? Why do some businesses survive while others fail? There are scores of business books on these and other similar questions, so I wont go there. But lets tackle the matter at hand: Why does one trade show flourish while another languishes?

The answer is probably complex, but fundamentally, its not much different from any widget. It fills a market need. In the case of the Channel Partners Conference & Expo (formerly the AgENt Conference & Expo), that need was a forum for the indirect channel, which experienced explosive growth with the rise of competitive long-distance providers. Aside from the ILECauthorized dealers that came around following divestiture, these agents had no real roadmap for running their businesses, creating best practices, meeting with peers and suppliers.

Fortunately, PHONE+ executives were responsive to their call for help and worked with agents to get an event off the ground in summer 1997. That event and many that followed were small just hundreds of delegates. Today, in contrast, the spring 2007 event, March 4-6 in Las Vegas, is expected to host 3,000.

Why do they come? Mostly because everyone else is going to be there, including their suppliers, colleagues, customers, partners and friends. Its the best (cheapest, quickest) way for them to touch base with as many people they do business with as is possible in a three-day spree.

In the early days, they also came to learn. They came to find out about new vendors, new programs, new products and technologies, and how to sell them. They came to learn about contracts and carrier relations and best practices for customer interaction. They came to check their own assessments of the industry, where its going and how to keep their companies on track.

Whether you are new to the channel or a seasoned vet, you still can learn something new at the Channel Partners Expo. So if you havent attended a session in a few years, Id encourage you to make it a priority for Vegas 2007. Weve been programming wireless topics for at least four years, but weve picked out two topics that are hotter than ever wireless data and expense management. If you missed these sessions before, you wont want to miss them again. Managed services. Enough said. Check it out. Disaster recovery and business continuity. If you arent counseling your clients and positioning your products as part of an overall contingency plan, you need to spend a couple hours with our experts. You will walk away knowing your next steps and no less than four vendors that can help you (see related story and check out our new eBook on www.phoneplusmag.com/ebooks).

This is your chance to tap experienced peers, experts and vendors about solutions that may be your next big moneymaker. Dont you think thats worth some time? I do. Its those ideas and business opportunities that are going to fuel the channel well into the next decade.

See you in the front row!

KHALI HENDERSON
Group Editor


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