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XChange, The Industry's Premier Solution Provider Event, Turns 10

The CMP Media Channel Group (publisher of CRN) has been serving the solution provider market since the formation of the channel in the early 1980&'s.

We remain the only company to have stuck it out through the good and bad times. During that period, we have evolved as much as the market and the value-added channel, extending beyond print into online ventures, events, and market intelligence and education offerings.

This week in Orlando, Fla., we are breaking other longevity records by celebrating the 10th anniversary of our XChange conference series.

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ROBERT FALETRA
Can be reached at (781) 839-1221 or via e-mail at rfaletra@cmp.com.

With the death of Comdex, XChange is now the premier and largest broad-based solution provider show in the industry. I&'ve had several of you tell me over the past few weeks that XChange has become a key component in your evaluation and acceptance of new products for your linecard.

Providing product awareness is one key service the CMP Media Channel Group provides through our print, online, educational and events lineup.

The reason I believe XChange has prospered over the past 10 years while other shows have come and gone is simple: We are committed to providing a service, not just a destination. We believe it is important for XChange to live up to its name, providing a true exchange of information, ideas and, ultimately, a debate on what is needed to improve the profitability of not only the value-added channel, but also the vendors that use it.

That debate is necessary—even though at times it can make some people uncomfortable—and it requires honesty. Sometimes it means solution providers must look their suppliers in the eye and tell them they will not sell their products because of deficiencies in their channel programs or because their direct-sales policies cause conflict. It also means vendors likewise at times must tell a solution provider that it must add value or increase its commitment to the vendor or risk being replaced.

These fundamental business issues have always been part of the debate at XChange—and a thread running through our other products. We believe the public and private discussions that happen at what has become the largest solution provider show in the business are important for moving the market forward.

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‘The reason I believe XChange has prospered over the past 10 years while other shows have come and gone is simple: We are committed to providing a service, not just a destination.&'

But while XChange and the CMP Media Channel Group have been instrumental in organizing and advancing the discussion over the past 10 years, what&'s gone is gone. What&'s more important now is what we all do during the next 10 years.

First and foremost, I believe we will be forced to grapple with more difficult issues over the next 10 years than we did in the past 10.

The reason I say that is because this is a much more mature industry. In addition, while much of the past was about rapid deployment of infrastructure, the future doesn&'t look as clear.

The rich margins the business has historically seen for services very likely will erode going forward because of the rush by so many suppliers to get into the services space.

The basic automation of the workforce already has taken place, and future growth will be dependent on technology deployments that are much more complicated and that tie in business process across an entire supply chain.

Some of the issues we have debated over the past 10 years are still with us, and they may always be. As new points of conflict arise, it will require all of us to renew our commitment to be honest and put our true opinions on the table. Doing so is important to drive profitability for both the channel and vendors—and, after all, that&'s what we all need.

Make something happen. I can be reached at (781) 839-1202 or via e-mail at rfaletra@cmp.com.

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