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Finally, said former Kodak executive Hayzlett, too many companies are averse to risk -- "Is anyone going to die if we make a mistake?" he asked -- and they also don't insist that promises be "mutual conditions of satisfaction," where both the company and the customer hold up their ends of the bargain and everyone is on the same page.
Don't spend too much time hung up on branding and marketing speak, Hayzlett added. Don't settle, don't take your online presence for granted -- "If you suck offline, you will suck online" -- and do be afraid to stir things up, he urged.
In a nod to the communal nature of the BoB conference, Hayzlett offered a line from legendary explorer/scientist Jacques Cousteau: "One should never be scared when one is in good company."
"The channel's relevance is going to be driven by how well we adapt," said Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages, a Kittery, Maine-based solution provider. "We need to collaborate."
"As you think about who you'll be hiring, in seven years, we're no longer going to be spending as much time doing the work we do today. Increasingly, we'll be cannibalizing that work as we move into the cloud. For us, it'll be interesting to see how we transfer business not two to three years from now, but a decade from now," said Christopher Hertz, founder and CEO of New Signature, a Washington D.C.-based solution provider.
Harry Zarek, president and CEO of Compugen, a Richmond Hill, Ontario-based solution provider, said one big challenge for partner businesses is making their salespeople more effective as solutions become more complex.
"The biggest cost all of us have is not plant, and it's not equipment -- it's people who walk out there every day to talk up our businesses," Zarek told CRN. "Customers are asking us to do much more and do it cost-effectively. We're asking our sales people to do so much more, so we have to make sure we take away sales killers -- the administrative stuff that keeps them busy -- that prevent them from focusing on being in front of customers and putting together solutions."