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WATCH: CB Tech CEO Discusses Move From VAR to Systems Integrator

At CRN’s Best of Breed 2018, CB Technologies CEO Kelly Ireland shared how solution providers can successfully transform their companies in the digital age.

In 2015, CB Technologies CEO and Founder Kelly Ireland took a risk, deciding to transition her value-added reseller (VAR) company to Systems Integrator. What followed was success: Orange, Calif.-based CBT evolved into an award-winning IT Solutions Provider with a roster of Fortune 50 clients. At CRN’s 2018 Best of Breed Conference in Philadelphia, she discussed the journey and the lessons learned along the way.

“The main message I brought today to the BOB conference was the transformation: the journey we took from being a value-added reseller to becoming this boutique SI (systems integrator). We used the Gartner Hype Curve because we felt it really fit. It’s not just technology that goes on the curve, but the psychology of the process and our team and it really could show that you have your great expectations, and then your disillusionment and then you kind of even out and take off from there.”

The Gartner Hype Cycle provides a graphical representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems. Ireland says the insight from the data made it easier to manage the deployment of new technology and, ultimately, change her mindset in exploring new opportunities.

“So, at the beginning it was a completely different mindset. We had to look at it and say, what kind of personnel do you need? We had to change resources. We had to bring in much higher-end engineers, data scientists, people with different capabilities than we had as just a VAR.”

Ireland says the biggest risk was taking on debt.

“We have a great business and we’ve made sure we kept that side of the company rolling, so that we could fund some of the innovation we were doing. And, I myself funded some of it. But it came to a point when I said, we are going to need more.”

CBT has gone on to win a number of awards since transforming. In 2015, the company was named HP PartnerOne Solution Provider of the Year for Cloud, and later won CRN’s prestigious Triple Crown Award in 2016 and CRN’s inaugural IoT Innovators Award in 2017

Ireland’s biggest tip for others? Stay focused.

“Knowing it’s a journey. Knowing you’re going to have the uphills and some really bad downhills. People are going to get frustrated, people are going to get angry and think we aren’t doing the right thing. It’s having that focused vision.”

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