In a few days, hundreds of solution providers will stream into Dallas, their destination: XChange 2012, the industry’s largest independent gathering of solution providers and vendors. This conference comes at a critical juncture for solution providers as many are navigating through one of the most disruptive transformations channel executives have ever witnessed. This is causing many solution providers to dramatically alter their business models to embrace opportunities around cloud, mobility, apps and services their customers need to leverage IT more efficiently.
These executives understand that if they don’t change their go-to-market strategies, invest more in highly skilled workers and add new vendor partners, they will likely not survive. While some solution providers are morphing their models, new IT integrators are springing up with businesses that are intensely focused on delivering cloud solutions to their customers, or specialized mobile apps for vertical markets, or even business analytics. Those are just a sample of the next-generation VAR models appearing on the IT landscape.
But whether new solution provider or longtime VAR, both is drawn to XChange in search of answers to the most pressing issues of the day. The highly influential and qualified audience that will occupy the Texan Gaylord Hotel for nearly five days is making an enormous sacrifice in regard to time because they believe XChange is the destination where they will find some, if not all, the answers to the strategic decisions they must make in the coming months.
It may be hot in Dallas during this time of year, but the heat is on these executives to make the right calls. So, for the next several days they will engage with their peers to compare points of view along with best practices. In fact, the peer networking at XChange has emerged as one of its most valuable components, say attendees and the XChange Advisory Board. There is no other conference that provides the diversity of business models to exchange with and learn from if you are leading a VAR organization. It is also the place where “vintage” VARs can formulate plans to transition to a more progressive organization, or where the most progressive can even push the limits of their model.
Not only will these solution providers engage with one another, but they also will engage with top executives from today’s leading IT vendors. Most, if not all, of today’s leading vendors—from Cisco to Xerox—and numerous emerging players will be meeting with VAR attendees to get feedback on their existing and future products. They also will gather information from these integrators to refine their channel programs to meet the needs of their indirect sales channel.
This year’s conference, with the theme “Channel Without Limits,” will also have its share of big-name keynote speakers, including noted author and consultant David Nour, who travels the globe sharing his pioneering work in the area of relationship economics. UBM Channel CEO Robert Faletra will discuss his insight on the channel’s evolution, sharing the stage with some of his favorite solution providers. Crawford Del Prete, IDC’s EVP and top research executive, will offer his insight on the industry’s big issues with a view toward what will be hot and not come 2020.
The big names from the vendor community also will be providing insight into their company’s direction and growth strategies, including Jeff Turner, one of Microsoft’s top SMB executives; Bill Donohue, IBM’s Business Partner and Mid-Market Sales leader; and Matt Smith of HP’s Americas Partner organization. Rounding out the big-name keynotes is the always-entertaining Richard Hutton, who leads Samsung’s channel initiatives. In addition to those vendors, many others will be presenting to partners and conducting closed-door boardrooms to collect their thoughts and insight.
After attending those keynotes, along with such activities as the Cloud Bootcamp and XChange Quick Fire sessions and much more, attendees will no doubt return to their offices exhausted, but rejuvenated, about the prospects for the channel. But they also will have in hand a plan for the future of their business.
Robert C. DeMarzo is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Content for UBM Channel, where he oversees content for the organization’s conferences and events.