In the next few days, hundreds upon hundreds of solution providers and vendors will pour into San Antonio to spend nearly four days discussing the future of the channel. They all will be hunkered down in meetings, research reviews and strategy sessions aimed at growing sales and profits in 2015. We at The Channel Company, organizer of XChange, find ourselves in the best seat in the house—watching, listening and being a part of those conversations.
The XChange 2014 conference, which takes place Aug. 17-19 at J.W. Marriott, is vastly different than the March XChange conference. Yes, there are boardroom meetings, keynote addresses and private gatherings. But solution providers and their vendor partners will come to the March conference with a sense of urgency as they refine tactics or tweak marketing and sales programs that will help them achieve more short-term goals. The August gathering has an entirely different ambiance with partners looking for peer guidance, education and vendor directions that can help them build longer-term strategies for success. Solution providers are coming to this event with the understanding that a major transformation is under way, one unlike any they have seen before. That dramatic transformation is being driven by cloud, mobility, changing buyer behavior and other forces that are causing IT integrators to rethink their value propositions. Change of this magnitude comes around once every decade or so, but the gravity of the situation is lost on no one that will be attending XChange 2014.
Realizing that solution providers are caught up in this frenzied period, the XChange Advisory Board decided that channel partners cannot lose focus on the customer. It was a stroke of genius on its part and led to the event theme of "Elevating the Customer Experience." Individual board members said this is the time to engage with customers and create the ultimate experience for them because of the changing nature of what is being sold. This should not be taken lightly. Solution providers must realize that relationships can no longer be built around, or measured by, key touch points but by the quality of the experience and interaction over time.
With that in mind, the event kicks off on Saturday afternoon—only crazy people or nerds get together then—with a workshop designed to help solution providers build out their recurring revenue streams.
Come Sunday afternoon, the theme will be brought to life by author and consultant Joseph Michelli, who has chronicled the customer experiences with such brands as Ritz-Carlton, Starbucks and Zappos. Other keynoters include TruMethods' Gary Pica, who will tell attendees how to unlock their superpowers and FutureSight Labs' Seth Mattison, who will discuss the relationship revolution. One keynote not to miss will be delivered by our very own CEO Robert Faletra, who will tackle sales strategies for the new cloud era. He will be accompanied by three partners who have adopted new styles of selling.
Between those keynotes, leading vendors will appear onstage to discuss their products, programs and strategies, in addition to a litany of executive breakout sessions spanning marketing, cloud, women's career challenges and M&A.
That is just the tip of the iceberg, as the old saying goes, in terms of the content and discussions that will take place at XChange. Look for coverage by CRN throughout the event, along with our social media postings and blogs.
If you want to contact me about XChange or our other events, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.