(Pictured above: Salesforce’s Tiffani Bova discusses the customer experience and “growth IQ” on stage at Channel Partners Evolution, Oct. 10.)
If you missed Channel Partners Evolution in Philadelphia, Oct. 9-12, you not only missed a buzzworthy expo hall and some really cool networking opportunities (aka parties), you missed out on some important opportunities to improve your business.
If you were in attendance, we hope you took advantage of our keynote sessions to glean some knowledge from some of the channel’s most important leaders.
In the image gallery below, we recap many of the presentations delivered from the keynote stage, as well as education in our conference tracks, the inaugural MSP 501 Awards Dinner and our Channel NX2Z Symposium.
Featured companies include Avant, 8×8, Riverbed and more.
Follow executive editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.
The Future of 5G
You've heard a lot of the hype surrounding 5G wireless technology — mostly that it will be fast, fast, fast. But there are a whole lot of practical applications for the channel that will open doors to new opportunities and more money.
Robert Boyanovsky, VP of enterprise mobility at Channel Partners Evolution title sponsor AT&T
, cited specific instances
in retail, health care and other verticals where 5G will be a boon to partners and their customers.
"Because this is software-defined networking, the ability to grab that information from the wireless link and to do something is becoming very real," said Boyanovsky.
Earning the 'S' in MSSP
Partners pivoting to capture a rich security market might consider branding themselves managed security service providers (MSSPs
). But it's expensive, and not all industry experts agree on what constitutes table stakes to get in the game.
We brought leaders from security giants CounterTack, Sophos and AlienVault on stage to discuss the massive opportunity for MSPs if they pursue security the right way and avoid costly pitfalls.
"You need to make sure you train people correctly, make sure you enable them correctly," said Mike LaPeters, VP of global channels, AlienVault. "And then understand that when you get engaged with this, you need to make sure you’re building service offerings that resonate and are relevant."
Pictured above, left to right are: Channel Partners/Channel Futures' Kris Blackmon, moderator; Scott Barlow, Sophos; Michael Deskewies, CounterTack; and LaPeters. Read more here
The Experience Is Everything8x8
channel chief John DeLozier sported some vintage Air Jordans on stage to make a point about novel ideas surrounding the customer experience. He helped the audience understand keys to bigger sales via a unified approach to employee and customer communications.
“Today, we’re told 89 percent of CIOs think in the Fortune 1000 that they’re meeting customer expectations, but when you poll the customers, 8 percent say that they are,” DeLozier told the crowd
. “There’s a huge gap between the customer and the CIO. This is your opportunity to jump in there and help them with that gap.”
Masters and Distributors Panel
This panel is a tradition at Channel Partners events, but how master agents and distributors run their businesses today is anything but. We quizzed these execs on why partners need to think out of the box to get the best from the master-distributor relationships.
“The customer’s needs have changed dramatically, and if you leave solutions on the table, we’re not going to do as much business,” WTG CEO Vince Bradley told the keynote audience
Pictured above, left to right, are moderator Lynn Haber, content director, IT channel, Channel Partners and Channel Futures; WTG’s Bradley; Ingram Micro’s Jennifer Anaya; Intelisys’ Justin Marano; TeleDynamics’ Daniel Noworatzky; and Avant’s Ian Kieninger.
The Future of the Channel
That's Drew Lydecker, president of Avant
, sharing research and analytics on big trends in the channel and where his company thinks it's headed. It was part of our Fastball series, where sponsors get six minutes of stage time to speak to our keynote audience. If they go over six, a loud buzzer reminds them it's time to exit stage left.
Powering the Intelligent Customer Experience
In another Fastball, Jim McGarry, regional director, master agents, Mitel
, described how his company and Google Cloud are working on the "next evolution of the intelligent customer experience."
Mitel is integrating
with Google Cloud's new artificial intelligence, which helps accelerate and automate contact-center agent work streams.
Winning the Next-Gen Customer
Just who do these millennials think they are?
Bryan Reynolds, director, post sales at TBI
, took the stage
in one of our "Lightning Talks" to debunk lingering misconceptions about younger customers and challenge partners to venture outside their comfort zones to help take them on as clients. For the millennial generation, purpose is not value, he said.
"Your value is what you can do for them. Your purpose is what you're doing to contribute to society," Reynolds told the audience.
Blockchain and the Channel: A Natural Fit
Blockchain might not be at the heart of most partners' business strategies right now, but it should be on their radar.
In this Lightning Talk, Neeraj Satija, CEO/CTO of Concordus Applications gave the audience a primer on how blockchain can transform peer-to-peer relationships and take the big fees out of turf disputes.
Healthy Paranoia: How Successful MSPs Hire
John Davenjay of Bowman Williams,
the staffing provider for IT services companies, shared tangible steps for creating a successful, repeatable hiring process that reduces turnover, increases productivity and keeps businesses sane as the scale. Considering the shortages in qualified IT professionals these days, this was a must-hear for partners and vendor reps in the audience.
Gross Margin: Why It Matters and How to Maximize It
Net profit isn't always the truest test of an organization's potential. So says Thomas Clancy, CEO of Valiant Technology
, who encouraged the audience to think more about gross margin. This metric often reveals how efficient a company is and how competitive it can be.
“I know that I resisted looking at gross margin because frankly I didn’t understand it,” Clancy said
. “Once I understood the value of it, I actually recognized that by having a checkpoint along the path, I could segregate what it costs to deliver my service product versus what it cost to operate my business. And I could see in which section of my business I was overinvesting or underinvesting. That’s really the power of gross margin, it just gives you a little bit of clarity and adjusts the focus so that you have an opportunity to look at service and operations, and keep them separate.”
Delivering a Great Digital Experience? Prove It
Bridget Bisnette, senior VP of global channels and commercial sales for Riverbed
, told the crowd
that the end-user’s experience with technology is critical to running an efficient and productive business. It’s the driver to making investments.
“So why are customers and employees still complaining about poorly performing apps – in many cases critical business apps that may involve servicing customers – as well as day-to-day productivity apps?” Bisnette asked. “It’s because you can’t measure end-user experience with that technology, that device or that application.”
MSP 501 Awards Dinner
On the same stage the night of Oct. 10 were the MSP 501 Awards
, presented by Channel Futures, where we honored the best managed service providers worldwide.
Pictured here under the giant screen of recognition are the more than 100 honorees who made the trek to Philadelphia from all corners of the globe. Congrats!
Channel NX2Z SymposiumChannel NX2Z
, the millennial-led group formed by Channel Partners and key young businesspeople in the channel, hosted a panel of leaders representing several generations, offering insights and lessons learned from their channel experience. There was also a networking event.
Pictured left to right: Salesforce's Tiffani Bova, TPx's Hilary Gadda, Channel Partners/Channel Futures' James Anderson, eFolder/Axcient's Jason Bystrak and Cytracom's Zane Conkle.
Education is always a big part of a Channel Partners event. This year, we had three tracks — business strategy, revenue and supplier portfolio, and marketing and technology. And for the first time, they were all sponsored by one company: Cyxtera