Channel Mechanics Global Channel Leaders Forum 2019
On March 28th Channel Mechanics hosted the inaugural Global Channel Leaders Forum in Testarossa Winery, Los Gatos, California.
The Channel Mechanics Team of Kenneth Fox, Phil Wright, Brenda O’Sullivan and Luis Curet hosted guests from an array of companies including AmTrust, Aruba Networks, Asana, AVEVA, Bitdefender, Bristlecone, CarltonOne, Cirrus Group, Cisco, CrowdStrike, Crowley Rock, Dasher Technologies, DataEndure, DomainTools, Druva, Ericsson, Extreme Networks, ForeScout Technologies, Fuze, GitHub, Google, Gorilla Technology, Herman Miller, iasset.com, IGEL Technologies, Illumio, Kensington, LG Electronics, MemSQL, Mitel, NetApp, NGINX, Nutanix, Nuvello, Palo Alto Networks, PTC, RagingWire Data Centers, Ruckus Networks, Securly, Solid8, Spire Global, Swytchback, Twitter, Vectorworks, Vectra AI, Veritas, VirtualPBX, Vortex 6, XTRM and Zendesk, to an afternoon of channel discussion accompanied by a little wine tasting, nibbles and networking.
“Our Channel Leaders Event provided an ideal forum for channel professionals to network with friends and colleagues to learn about the latest channel trends. The panel discussion was enlightening, thought provoking and generated lots of excellent audience participation. Looking forward to making this an annual event.” Kenneth Fox, CEO, Channel Mechanics
The Channel Leaders Forum Concept
The concept around the Channel Mechanics Global Channel Leaders Forum was to offer enlightening and thought-provoking discussion in the areas of evolving and disruptive Channel trends. To accomplish this, we invited a world class panel of channel experts to discuss key insights from their perspective.
Arriving just after 2 pm PT, guests were treated to an assortment of delicious nibbles. All washed down with some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Testarossa Winery. Shortly afterwards, Kenneth Fox took to the stage to introduce our panel of Channel Leaders:
- Gordon Mackintosh, VP WW Channels at Extreme Networks
- Laura Quintana, VP Corporate Affairs at Cisco
- Dan Solito, SVP Global Business Operations at Mitel
- Balaji Subramania, VP Global Channel Sales & Alliances at Informatica
Interestingly, as the panel members introduced themselves, giving a brief introduction to their Channel journey to date, it was noted each worked at Cisco at some stage in their careers. Most notable of all, was the passion with which each member described their channel journey. Along with the fun they had encountered along the way!
“The Global Channel Leaders Forum held by Channel Mechanics was invaluable in bringing together key industry leaders to share their insights and enable attendees to collaborate and share best practices with each other.” Jennifer Judy, Director WW Channel Programs, Enablement and Training, Ruckus Networks
Some Key Takeaways from the Channel Leaders Forum
Gordon Mackintosh offered 3 Key Pieces of Advice on Partner Communication Trends:
“Communicating within the channel is extremely difficult. There’s a lot of noise. Our partners are extremely busy people…wearing multiple hats and working with multiple vendors. So some of the best practices are in always leading with headlines and not over-communicating.”
He also pointed out the importance of choosing the right platform and communications methods.
“We’re putting a lot of time and investment into different types of platforms and communications. Partners, based on their persona, can actually customize their communication experience. Allowing partners to pick the type of communication they want to hear more about ”.
And finally he highlighted the importance of taking advantage of the different tools available.
“The deal registration tool we built with Kenneth three years ago, is a tool used every single day by thousands of sellers. So we’re now looking into pushing content into that environment. If a partner registers a deal in healthcare, we can push video content to them around best practices in how to sell in that vertical. Artificial Intelligence and doing that in an automated way is really here today. It needs some thought in how you put it together…but there are some fantastic opportunities out there”
“The Global Channel Leaders Forum had solid representation from different companies going through similar transformations. I found it extremely valuable from a networking perspective and got some good insights from the panel. Excellent venue as well.” Raelyn Kritzer, VP WW Channels, Ruckus Networks
Laura Quintana drew our attention to Cisco’s Networking Academy, a Corporate Social Responsibility Program, and how it plays into the relationship with Channel Partners
For 21 years, the Cisco Networking Academy has changed the lives of 9.2 million students in 180 countries by providing education, technical training, and career mentorship. Not only that, Networking Academy students get priority access to exciting employment opportunities from Cisco’s channel partners, who in turn are able to “tap into talent” in the areas of routing, switching, cyber security, IOT and the Cisco Certificated Network Associate (CCNA).
“We partnered with Channel Mechanics to develop a matching engine. We call it “Talent Bridge Matching Engine”, where we’re using software, as well as automation, to connect our students to opportunities with our channel partners. In under a year and a half since we started, originally in a pilot mode, we’ve made 11,000 connections. We have 250 Cisco channel partners participating in the program, and its growing. And we’re able to demonstrate this positive impact that we can have in society by equipping individuals with skills”
How does this help Channel Partners you ask?
“We are able to demonstrate now that we can add this differentiated value to our channel community in terms of providing them with talent, and not only in the networking space but also the cyber security space, the IoT space. And we also offer programming courses, and as we know, programming is in higher and higher demand. So that’s just to touch on some of the areas.”
Cisco employ a really closed-loop strategy whereby they provide the training to students, everyone from graduates to senior personnel, who the partners then use to drive Cisco products.
“Thanks again for the invitation to participate in the event. It was a great opportunity to connect with and hear from leaders across a diverse set of companies.” Michael Yutrzenka, Sr. Director, Corporate Affairs, Cisco
Dan Solito offered some advise for vendors thinking of moving to a Distribution Model:
“There are some critical elements that we’ve learned. You have to make sure you have the right tools. The right infrastructure. The right kind of information so you’re not discounting on the front-end. You’re discounting on the back-end which means you have to have a back-end credit process. For those of you who don’t really understand what a back end credit process is, think of hundreds of thousands of transactions going through distribution. You need to make sure you have clean data, end-customer information, by the way the distributor is going to pass on credits; how you validate what those credits are.
So you need a back end credit process that matches what you have proved: marketing programs, special pricing. So that at the end of the day you’ve got clean data and you’re making sure that you’re distributors are not gouging you when they’re not suppose to so that matching process is absolutely critical.”
“The Global Channel Leaders Forum 2019 held by Channel Mechanics in Los Gatos, CA is example of companies sharing their challenges and experiences as the drive innovation into their respective sales channels. The insights and perspectives given by the panelist and the attendees afforded many with real life use-cases which made this event invaluable to me.” Bryan Koyano, Partner Transformation & Strategy, Extreme Networks
Balaji Subramania Discussed The Channel and Big Data:
“We can’t live without data. Everything around us is consuming data. It’s securing data, its governing data, its putting all that into effective use and what we really care about is how do you uncover the value of that data, how do you create meaningful insights with that data, how do you distribute that data and of course how do you make revenue or increase your revenue using that data. And so that lies the challenge”. While not an easy task to accomplish, sharing that data with channel partners is one of the ways to succeed.
“Great event with Channel Mechanics! Terrific speakers with great insights into the most pressing issues for the channel and plenty of opportunity to network.” Christine Hansen, CEO, Gorilla Marketing
The Global Channel Leaders Panel discussion was followed up with some very interesting audience questions and observations on channel trends. After a number of which, the final question of the day gave a very honest answer. When asked what was his advice to companies looking to set up a channel for the first time, Gordon Mackintosh replied:
“Keep it Simple”
“The Channel Mechanics panel provided a great overview of the complex partner ecosystem and the technical challenges that vendors currently face. I leaned some great takeaways that we will absolutely implement at Asana!” Mary-Patton Eisen, Head of International Expansion & Partnerships, Asana
And that’s a wrap!
For everyone who joined us on the day, The Channel Mechanics Team would like to say a big thank you. And for those who missed out, we hope to see you next time around!
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