(pictured above: AT&T’s Rupesh Chokshi, associate vice president, AT&T Business Solutions and International)
Our latest show, Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 25-28, in Austin, Texas, featured another great round of industry keynotes and “Fastball” presentations not only from some of the biggest vendors in the channel, but also partners, analysts and industry insiders — all with the goal of helping you earn more business.
Among those featured were speakers from communications behemoths AT&T and CenturyLink, UC providers such as RingCentral, distributor Ingram Micro and tech giant Google, just to name a few.
We know you were busy and might not have attended every keynote session. That’s why we are offering up the recap below, featuring images, of those who contributed to our show in a big way on the Evolution keynote stage. At the end of many of the descriptions you’ll find links to stories we wrote on the presentations so you can take a deeper dive.
Brett Kelsey, vice president and chief technology strategist for the Americas, McAfee, told the crowd that fighting today's black hats requires a new mindset. Effective cybersecurity isn't built in a silo, he noted, in comments on strategy. This fosters security sprawl and leaves businesses vulnerable to attacks.
“The No. 1 thing that channel partners need to understand, first and foremost, is they need to have a greater conversation around the direction the customers are going and start looking at how they can make not just technology, but people and the various groups in the organizations work together better,” he said.
Penton Technology, now part of Informa (Channel Partners' parent company), and soon to be under the new Channel Futures brand, hosted its think-tank session on the Channel Partners Evolution stage. Pictured left to right are: Theresa Caragol, founder and CEO of TCC and Achieve Unite; Sandra Cheek, VP of global partners and alliances, Ciena; Jim Chow, enterprise cloud solution evangelist and strategic partnerships/channels executive, Google; and Dawn Lindsey, head of partner marketing and programs, BigCommerce. Standing and not pictured is T.C. Doyle, senior content director, Penton Technology/Channel Futures.
The group spent time discussing the channel's embracing of cloud and digital transformation. Partners better not wait any longer for the proverbial bandwagon; roughly 80 percent of the channel is neither cloud nor digital today, but that number will shrink to 20 percent in the next four to five years.
“Digital transformation has been going on for the last 20-30 years,” Cheek said. “What has changed is the profound speed of technology and the impact of how the customer is in the driver’s seat now, and that impacts how you … sell and distribute technology. That’s why it’s kind of bubbled up as the ‘it’ term right now.”
Learn more about the channel's role in cloud and digital transformation here.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is another are where partners shouldn't delay adopting in their channel practices. So said Christian Renaud, research director for the IoT practice at 451 Research. While IoT might be overhyped, use cases are emerging, Renaud told the audience, suggesting that the pace of adoption will pick up quite a bit over the next year or two.
A tip for partners: Equipment, devices and endpoints used for IoT initiatives are commonly found in the data center — so "today I'd go after data centers and factories, automobiles and fleet equipment," Renaud said.
Is the channel sales model under attack? Ingram Micro's Jennifer Anaya, VP of marketing, North America, suggested so during her presentation on the keynote stage.
Anaya's message: Start working smarter. She challenged partner businesses to disrupt their thinking, change the conversation and work to create greater opportunity. Instead of working to be disruptive – a common buzzword these days – work to be indispensable by thinking more about your customers and less about your competitors. A collaborative culture will help achieve that.
Just about everyone uses social media these days, so communicating your business value is critical. So said Will Harris, managing director of Willpower Consultation, in a keynote delivered on behalf of Verizon.
The sales expert offered some tips on using LinkedIn, including: "LinkedIn is more than just a place you go to dump your resume ... if you've been in the same company ever since God made dirt, you don't have to say it every time you get a little bitty promotion. Nobody wants to read all that mess," he said.
A professional photo is important, he added. After that, be relevant to potential customers by showing your specialization and the ability you have to solve their problems.
That's MicroCorp president Phil Keenan on stage with session host Amy Bailey. In our traditional Fastball segment, Keenan espoused the virtues of teaming up with his company in a presentation called, "You Can't Teach Experience: A Survival Guide."
Fastball participants get just six minutes to stake their claims.
In another Fastball, Darren Knapp, manager of strategy and business development at Polycom, described how the company's VVX desktop phones will prepare you for a zombie apocalypse and some of the other typical disaster scenarios your business might face!
Salesforce's Tiffani Bova, a frequent Channel Partners conference contributor, took the stage to explain how the customer experience will always outshine the next piece of technology. A successful partner understands that and helps their clients deliver one.
Many partners have the expertise, products and services, but are lacking in what it takes to give customers the experience they want.
“So, what exactly are the things that customers are looking for from us and how does the technology become seamlessly a part of their lives in the business world similar to the way it is in their personal lives? This is where you have a real opportunity to make change,” Bova told the audience.
You heard that right. In his entertaining Fastball presentation, AT&T's Chris Nations (pictured above, left) not only described the benefits of selling the carrier's (and our title sponsor) secure connectivity solutions, he finished with a rap about it. Pictured above, he's congratulated by session host Mike Schmidtmann for his musical prowess.
And that wasn't all from AT&T. Rupesh Chokshi, associate VP of Business Solutions, encouraged attendees to understand all of the latest technologies since innovation is moving so rapidly. Understanding things such as software-centric networking and network virtualization can take your business to the next level.
CenturyLink used its time on stage in two ways. First, channel chief John DeLozier discussed the unprecedented opportunity that the global digital transformation affords partners, noting that they can become "rock stars" by following a handful of trends. Then, marketing VP Tina Smith (pictured above) explained the ways CenturyLink can help partners grow their businesses.
The 2112 Group
Larry Walsh, CEO and chief analyst of The 2112 Group, described the future profile of the most successful channel partners and cloud solution providers.
“Our job is not to deliver complexity. Our job is to mask complexity with simplicity,” Walsh told the audience. “Our job is to provide that shade, that mirror of experience that makes the customer feel good about with the services and technology we’re providing.”
Above he shows off The 2112 Group Cloud Altimeter, a project developed with Ingram Micro, which provides insights that partners can use to understand their competitive position in the market and build new cloud development strategies.
That's Rudy Rodriguez, head of the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), extolling the virtues of peer partnering.
“Customers are asking for industry-specific expertise,” Rodriguez said. “They’re looking for a depth of services, and they’re looking for more trusted advisers as business partners.”
Often that means teaming up with another solution provider who has expertise in an area that you don't.
Click here to read Rodriguez's partner-to-partner maturity model.
Like peanut butter and chocolate, unified communications and collaboration are better together. That was the message from a keynote panel that featured, left to right: moderator Amy Bailey, VP of marketing, Telarus; Christopher Alghini, president and CIO, Coolhead Tech; Eric Bohren, AVP, strategic alliances, RingCentral; and Dennis DeMeyere, Office of the CTO, Google Cloud.
Much of the conversation surrounded the convergence of telecommunications and IT, which have historically been separate.
“When we talk about going in to sell to the line of business for marketing, we have to remember to include IT, which is a fundamental shift for IT as well as business,” Alghini told the audience.
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