When the Channel Partners and Channel Futures editorial teams set out to identify the top 50 people, technologies, trends and organizations that are shaping the channel in 2018, we knew we had our work cut out for us.
After all, there are so many great companies, channel leaders and cutting-edge technologies making a difference — whittling down the list to a manageable number of “influencers” took some serious thought.
Scroll through our gallery below to meet our honorees. We also caught up with reps from some of the 25 “organizations to watch.”
About the Influencers
Our editorial team combed through the biggest stories of 2017 to give you a jump on the movers and shakers who could make or break your business in 2018. The winners took home some shiny hardware at the show.
Pics of our honorees begin on the next slide.
As vice president of indirect channels at Comcast Business, Craig Schlagbaum has been instrumental in driving some serious growth and positioning his company as a serious player in cloud services. The job is doubly difficult because Comcast Business has fierce competitors and an aggressive direct sales arm.
Schlagbaum (center) is flanked by Art Wittmann (left), SVP of content for Channel Partners; and Brian Snortheim, VP of sales.
As director of channel development for TPx, Hilary Gadda has the contacts, expertise and chops to get the job done — and done well. The co-founder and president of Women in the Channel has more than 20 years in the channel, the last 16 with TPx, where she facilitated triple-digit channel sales growth.
Geeman Yip founded BitTitan in 2007 from his Seattle basement and has grown the company over the past decade to focus on helping MSPs be successful in the cloud. Yip is passionate about enabling MSPs to embrace what makes them different, and helping them protect their intellectual property.
Datto was already on fire for most of the year with its continued international expansion and extension of its product line into wireless networking. The merger with Autotask just adds interest. Datto remains a solid contributor to its partners and has the potential of disrupting other sectors of the market. A large part of this has to do with Rob Rae’s efforts, bolstered by support from Austin McCord. Last year, McBain ranked Rae, Datto's vice president of business development, the top influencer in the channel, and we don’t predict his presence will shrink anytime soon.
Forrester analyst Jay McBain is unique in that he stands at the intersection of digital transformation technologies, especially the Internet of Things, and the channel. He has deep knowledge and expertise about the transitional challenges the channel faces in the new digital economy. McBain speaks at numerous events, is very active on social media and has an extensive channel network. Most importantly, channel pros listen to him when he raises alarms over the need to specialize and embrace new technologies.
You might argue that holding the top channel chief slot at a $290 billion multinational tech vendor, with the granddaddy of partner programs, makes you a shoo-in for stature and influence in that community — and you might be right. But one thing you don’t hear when talking with Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs at Microsoft, is any hint of complacency.
Schuster, who we recognized above all as our 2018 Influencer of the Year, has been considered Microsoft’s channel chief since July 2016, when she replaced Phil Sorgen, who held the top slot for just over two years. At a time when disruption is running rampant in the IT industry, with vendors, channel partners, distributors and customers trying to find their “new normal,” Microsoft’s partners, many of whom are struggling to evolve their businesses, say Schuster’s leadership style has earned their confidence.
You didn’t think her move from Verizon to Office Depot was taking her out of the channel game, did you? If anything, in her new role, Schijns could make an even bigger impact on partners. She’s intent on harnessing the Office Depot brand and making creative use of the retailer’s brick-and-mortar locations, and she’s signed on Michelle Ragusa-McBain as senior director of technology sales and services and Heather Tenuto as vice president of channels to help.
John DeLozier, pictured here delivering a keynote at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, hit the ground running when he became vice president of CenturyLink Channel Alliance in 2016. He has worked to make CenturyLink accommodating for all types of partners and to increase partner opportunities with various technologies. And now with CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3 Communications finalized, he has an even bigger playing field in the channel.
Last year Zee Hussain, pictured here delivering a Channel Partners Conference & Expo keynote, was handed the keys to AT&T Partner Solutions by Brooks McCorcle, who will be a tough act to follow. But we’re betting that Hussain has great success taking responsibility for AT&T’s three realigned indirect channel programs – Partner Exchange, Alliance Channel and ACC Business – all under the same umbrella for the first time.
In our recent digital issue, not only did we recognize eight channel innovators, we identified 25 organizations to watch. These companies include top suppliers, distributors and master agents moving the channel forward in 2018. These, too, were selected by Channel Partners and Channel Futures editors who know their beats inside and out. A few of the companies sent representatives to be recognized at our networking event.
One was Sophos, whose Erin Malone, VP of North America channel sales, is pictured here accepting the award.
As we noted in our digital issue, "It’s hard to think of a more channel-friendly vendor that covers as many bases in its market as Sophos does in security."
Also in attendance at our event was Avaya, represented here by Gary Levy, VP, Americas channel sales.
With new president and CEO Jim Chirico in place, Avaya is focused on simplifying operational processes and complexities to “empower our partners, employees and our customers — and to make it easier to do business with Avaya, all while providing best-in-class margins for partner profitability,” Levy told us. He insists the company will emerge from chapter 11 with a stronger balance sheet and greater freedom to invest in R&D and innovation, sales and M&A, not to mention expanding the ecosystem of technology and alliance partners.
Download our digital issue for the full list of "organizations to watch."
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