Now in its fifth year, Channel Partners’ Circle of Excellence honors the best executives in all of the channel.
CoE recognizes IT and telecom channel leaders who are helping their partners create business value for customers. What traits does it take to be a member of this exclusive club?: vision, innovation and advocacy of the indirect channel during this time of transition and convergence.
Circle of Excellence members are selected by Channel Partners editors. Our 2017 honorees were feted at the Aureole Restaurant at Mandalay in Las Vegas Wednesday night.
You can read about our past honorees here.
Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.
As vice president, CenturyLink Channel Alliance, John DeLozier looks forward to a “channel as a service” future.
“The cloud is here to stay, and these platforms are completely changing how the channel does business,” he told us. “The new model is all about ongoing service, and the channel must rework delivery models, compensation and sales strategies to be the as-a-service provider that an increasing amount of customers need.”
Fun fact: DeLozier is a self-described music fanatic, with a special affinity for ’80s hair bands. His secret ambition is to go on tour with Sammy Hagar.
Craig Schlagbaum, vice president, indirect channels for Comcast Business, says this will be a breakout year for SD-WAN and for the IoT as more adoption occurs.
Comcast recently created a separate support team for the company’s medallion partners and hope to continue to make improvements to its Comcast Control Center (Salesforce) to make it easier to do business with the cableco.
Fun fact: If money were no object, Schlagbaum says he would fish for giant marlin all over the world.
Charter (Spectrum Business) VP of channel sales Greg Iuzzolino points to his company’s success as it continues to work to consolidate three channel programs into one.
“Partners will have a much larger opportunity than ever with the increased footprint and standardized products and pricing [stemming from the Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks integration],” Iuzzolino told us.
Fun fact: He calls the iPhone both the best and worst high-tech invention ever.
Rick Ribas, senior vice president of Intelisys‘ east region, says he’s seeing a lot of growth in unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and in contact centers.
Speaking generally about the channel in the coming year, Ribas told us: “The opportunities are huge, and will continue to grow over the coming years. More and more carriers are moving away from direct sales and into the channel. We’re seeing reports predicting huge growth in the channel, as more and more end-user customers are preparing to make a digital transformation. Hang on tight — we are all in for a wild ride.”
Fun fact: Ribas plays a lot of tennis and his secret ambition is to fly.
Ken Bisnoff is co-founding senior vice president, strategic opportunities, TPx Communications (fka TelePacific Communications).
Bisnoff says now that TelePacific has acquired DSCI and rebranded, “our top focus is to now help our partners leverage these new or expanded capabilities with their existing client base or in pursuit of new logo opportunities. We have and will continue to invest heavily in training, technical sales support and mindshare events to continue to bring success to our partners with these stickier and higher revenue customers,” Bisnoff told Channel Partners.
Fun fact: Bisnoff has been in his current position for 18 years.
Donna Wenk, senior vice president of agent channel, Broadview Networks, spearheaded a number of initiatives that culminated in improvements for her company’s channel partners in the past year.
Among them: expanded investment in sponsorships with nationwide master agents; hiring of additional channel managers to support partners across the country; and the rolling out of a new portal to allow partners to manage their clients’ UC systems from a single login.
Fun fact: Wenk does Crossfit and has always wanted to dance on Broadway.
Vince Bradley, WTG‘s CEO, says the master agent/connectivity services distributor has been busy differentiating itself from competitors in the past 12 months.
Notably, WTG has productized SD-WAN for MSPs as a great way to “not only have another leading-edge device to sell, but also gets them into connectivity/WAN at the same time, which is something that everyone has been trying to do,” Bradley told us. “[We] also developed an IoT model and road map for partners to develop their IoT practices.”
Fun fact: Bradley is a soccer coach and surfer who thinks hoverboards that catch on fire are the worst high-tech invention ever.
Carmen Sorice, senior vice president, channels, Sungard Availability Services, expects in the coming year that to remain relevant with their customers, more partners will move toward a “consultative selling motion.”
“This consultative approach needs to include the benefits of public cloud for production workloads and recovery services,” Sorice told us. “Partners need to analyze cloud offers, select cloud vendors to partner with, and provide customers with hybrid or multi-cloud solutions to help them achieve their business outcomes.”
Fun fact: Sorice was a drummer in a band when he was a teenager.
Longtime Verizon exec Joe Chuisano, executive director, Verizon Business Markets, says that small and medium-size customers, as well as state and local education (SLED) government agencies create big opportunities for the vendor and its channel partners in the coming year.
“As we expand into new markets, we will need partners,” Chuisano told us. “Our team has build a partner ecosystem that is ready to pounce.”
Fun fact: Chuisano calls the Flowbee the worst high-tech invention ever. He calls himself “a little intense.”
Ian Kieninger is the CEO and co-founder of Avant Communications, the master agent that now calls itself a “sales enablement company for next-generation technologies.”
Kieninger says UCaaS, SD-WAN and security are big opportunities poised for growth in the next year.
“This is the age of the trusted adviser,” Kieninger told us. “The old brands are face new competition, hardware (capex) will be challenged by monthly reoccurring services (opex), and the channel partners that help customers cut through the confusion and chaos will be the winners.”
Fun fact: Kieninger considers the laserdisc the worst high-tech invention ever. When asked what book he’s currently reading, he replied, “Email … ugh.”
Christopher Whitaker, national director of indirect channel sales for Sierra Wireless’ managed connectivity solutions, is excited about the relaunch of his company’s partner program.
“We hired a dedicated support staff for partners, worked closely with operations to ensure a partner friendly environment, hired two new channel managers and made significant investments in sponsorships with our partners,” Walker told Channel Partners. “Our mission is to make it easy. We manage the solution implementation from A to Z.”
Fun fact: Whitaker once performed with the Washington National Symphony. He also was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.
Brooks McCorcle, as president of AT&T Partner Solutions, led AT&T Partner Exchange’s effort to expand its mobility offerings over the past year to help solution providers explore connected opportunities with their business customers.
She’s proud of what Current Analysis had to say about the carrier’s new AT&T Control Center, powered by Cisco Jasper, a cloud-based platform that gives solution providers the foundation to deploy, manage and scale IoT devices.
“The move further differentiates AT&T’s partner program, and allows partners to gain a foothold in the rapidly growing market for IoT solutions,” the intelligence alert read.
Fun fact: McCorcle’s secret ambition is to “collect, curate and stage art in a meaningful way to create an extraordinary experience for those who view it.”
Kyle Johnson, Vonage‘s senior vice president of sales, is high on the company’s Nexmo IP platform.
It allows developers to embed contextual, programmable communications into mobile apps, websites and business systems, enabling enterprises to communicate with customers in real time, anywhere in the world.
Telarus co-founder and CEO Adam Edwards is proud of the master agent’s recent launch of Supportline, an instant network assessment that he says “helps our partners stand our from their competitors.”
It was added to Telarus’ VXSuite line of monitoring services, which allow partners to monitor network and UC.
Fun fact: Edwards is more comfortable on stage than at a cocktail party.