The Channel's Best Bet


I’ve been following, participating in, researching
and generally involved with the IT sales channel
for nearly 30 years. My first interaction with the
channel came as a business reporter when I did a
story on a bookstore owner in a Boston shopping
mall that was changing his business to selling PCs in the 1980s.

I’ve seen a lot of changes since then. Through it all CRN and
Everything Channel, both of which have gone through some
ownership, name and business model changes of their own
over the years, have helped bring clarity to what needs to be
done to build successful channels and
channel businesses.

It’s different today, and many of the
best minds in the channel whom I know
well and admire have been discussing
that with me for months now. So when
a small group of elite solution providers
identified their desire to assemble the
top thinkers in the business to attack the
agenda for the successful channel ecosystem
of the future, we jumped on it.

When we first began discussing the
concept of the Best of Breed, or BoB,
conference, to be held Oct. 24-26 in
Monarch Beach, Calif., we agreed it
could not be an open-to-anyone event.
In order for the collective group of us
truly interested in advancing the needs
of the channel to build an event that could solve real problems,
we knew we would have to limit its accessibility or risk getting
bogged down in minutia. So what is BoB all about? It’s not about
back-end rebates or fighting over margin, market development
funds or certification costs, or about the untold number of
other details vendors and partners go back and forth on daily.

What it is about is setting an agenda for advancement.

I, like all the other attendees of BoB, be they on the solution
provider or vendor side of the coin, believe we are in a period
of unprecedented business model changes. We’ve heard and
probably said that before, but the difference is that this time
you can’t do what you have done in the past to get through it.

Traditionally, solution provider organizations with good
technical expertise, a customer base and sales skills could
power through a business model change like open sourcing or a
technical leap like the one brought on by the Internet browser.

I’m convinced that just isn’t going to be enough this time.
Desktop virtualization and the desire to have any information
we need on any device at any time are unparalleled technical
challenges being enabled by the cloud.

No business or individual (other than
a gadget freak) buys technology just
for the sake of it. They buy technology
because it solves a problem or advances
an opportunity. More importantly,
most of us don’t really want to own the
technology—we just want access to the
computing power that meets our needs.

I believe we are going to see suppliers
facing survival challenges as a result
of this. By the way, large numbers of
solution providers, many of them coming
off difficult times due to an anemic
economic rebound, are also facing the
same stress. The difference is many suppliers
have the resources to duke it out
for years. Solution providers face cashflow
issues that can tank a business in
months if the business model changes and they are not prepared.

That’s where BoB comes in. We believe we have constructed
an event with an agenda built by partners that is poised to
tee up the business model issues and allow partners to learn
from each other, from suppliers and from Everything Channel’s
research.

BACKTALK: Make something happen. Robert Faletra
is CEO of Everything Channel. You can contact him via
e-mail at robert.faletra@ec.ubm.com.