Once again Channel Mechanics was proud to sponsor Channel Focus North America 2019, held May 14-16 in Carlsbad, California. This, the 22nd anniversary of Channel Focus, has become a mecca for channel executives. And if you didn’t get to attend this prestigious event organized by Baptie & Co., you really did miss out on an exceptional gathering of channel professionals.
Channel Focus North America 2019 was more heavily attended than ever before. This year the event packed in over 270 executives from technology vendors across North America. For those analytically minded, that was an increase of 18% over the 2018 Channel Focus event. The audience, compromising both newcomers and channel veterans, all came with a passion for learning.
Channel Focus Women’s Leadership Council
Extremely successful this year was the 8th annual Channel Focus Women’s Leadership Council, which was held on the first day of the overall event. Attendance at this part of the conference has jumped from 8 attendees 7 years ago, to well over 100 this year. Not surprising when you see the full list of panel members including Theresa Caragol from AchieveUnite, Amy Belcher, Global Channel Marketing & Enablement at Xerok, Sandra Glaser Cheek, VP Global Partners & Alliances with Ciena, Cindy Herndon, VP Global Channel Strategies, Programs and Operations at Riverbed and Amy Mahoney, VP Partner Business Development & Scale Team at Salesforce, to name but a few. In fact, for the first time in Channel Focus history, the gender balance had swung!
“55% of Channel Focus 2019 attendees were Women Channel professionals”
Attendees represented a broad cross-section of nearly every major tech company that has or is considering a channel go-to-market model. The workshops and presentations covered a wide variety of channel topics and issues. Thus ensuring all attendees walked away with something new they could take home with them. A key differentiator of Channel Focus North America 2019 is that workshops and presentations are focused on getting to the ‘how’ best practices work. Rather than just discussing ‘what’ they are. In other words, the discussions were a learning experience vs simply being talking sessions.
Representing Channel Mechanics at Channel Focus this year were Kenneth Fox, Sean O’Connell, and Phil Wright. Our team spread its time between moderating workshops, interacting with attendees, and providing demos of our channel enablement SaaS offers.
Channel Focus Key Note Presentations
With over 20 years of leadership in digital and cloud transformation roles, Microsoft channel chief Gavriella Schuster delivered the first keynote on “New Channels, New Challenges – How should a smart vendor respond?”. Her presentation focusing on how vendors should approach new market opportunities and channel models in the age of digital transformation. Chief Revenue Officer at Lenovo Software, Sal Patanlano, equally delivered a tremendous presentation on “5 ways you need to challenge your existing channel perceptions”.
Channel Focus Thought Leaders
The ’how’ was part of the discussion in over 20 detailed presentations and over 40 workshops that comprised the event. While it’s not possible to list all the Channel Focus presentations, some of the key highlights for us included:
- Balaji Subramanian, VP Global Alliances & Channel Sales at ServiceMax, (a recent speaker at the Channel Mechanics Global Channel Leaders Forum), spoke about transitioning from a perpetual to a subscription based model
- Sandra Glaser Cheek, VP Global Partners and Alliances at Ciena, who presented on the relevance of traditional incentives programs
- Jeff McCullough, VP Americas Partner Sales at NetApp, who analyzed all sides of the AWS (Amazon Web Services) “friend, foe” or “frenemy” debate
- Cheryl Cook, SVP Global Partner Marketing at Dell Technologies, who spoke about key steps in creating one cohesive go-to-market strategy
- Marc Monday, RVP of North America Ecosystem at SAP, who presented on the rise of influencers channels and how to build meaningful relationships with them
- Taylor MacDonald, SVP Global Channels at Sage Intacct, who spoke on hybrid channels in a cloud world – the reality of building a direct and channel strategy that works
- Michael McCollough, VP Global Channels at Akamai, who presented on how to maximize the potential of new and emerging partners by asking what partners really want – a topic we have covered ourselves here.
- Charlie Tomeo, WW VP Business Sales at Webroot, who spoke of the demise of technical certifications and the rise of sales and marketing enablement
- Cindy Herndon, VP Strategies, Programs, and Operations at Riverbed Technologies, who spoke on the value of virtual channel P&L statements
Focus on Practical Workshops
With 40 workshops on offer to delegates over the event, Channel Mechanics happily moderated four, while participating in many more. Kenneth Fox moderated the workshops “How do you define the role of distribution in your channel eco-system?” and “The latest thinking on Partner Incentives”, with both proving particularly popular with delegates. Phil Wright took to the helm for “Defining the role of distribution in your channel eco-system” on day two. Bringing with him a fresh approach to the topic.
Of particular interest to Channel Mechanics is to see the eagerness of attendees to learn the ‘how’ behind the successful implementation of SaaS programs like Partner Levelling, Incentives Management and Market Development Funds (MDF), all of which are Channel Mechanics areas of expertise.
So if you missed Channel Focus 2019, be sure to book your ticket for next year’s event…we promise you won’t be disappointed!