BOB Conference Attendees Set Channel Survival Course

DLT Solutions President and CEO Rick Marcotte said confronting head on the fast-paced technology and business model changes that are reshaping the solution provider landscape is simply a matter of evolving or dying.

DLT Solutions, Herndon, Va., is No. 36 on UBM Channel’s VAR500 list of top solution providers in North America, and Marcotte is one of 150 solution provider CEO thought leaders gathered this week at the Best Of Breed, or BOB, conference at the exclusive St. Regis resort in Monarch Bay, Calif. Their goal: Setting a new business and channel agenda to survive amid such rapid change.

Marcotte said solution providers at the BOB conference should be mindful of the many companies that have gone out of business in the wake of the new dynamic wrought by the Internet revolution, including countless bookstores and travel agents. "These are essentially resellers who didn't evolve," he said. "The reality is it is so important today that you have to evolve or die."

Marcotte ran a division of a multinational company in the late 1990s that was hit hard by the Internet revolution. "It is very sobering to have to take out 45 [percent] or 50 percent of the workforce," he said. "It teaches you things like staying diversified, staying nimble, staying well capitalized.

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"Customers want to pay less for what we are selling both in terms of products and services, and manufacturers want to make more margin," he said. "We are kind of in the middle getting squeezed from both sides. I always have a sense of urgency on how do we take our economic model and morph it and change it to make sure we are relevant in the supply chain."

Marcotte said he is excited by the prospect of brainstorming with other CEO thought leaders. "You could go to one of these things every day, but this one is important," he said of the BOB conference. "Many of us serve on advisory councils to the manufacturers. We can help change the manufacturer programs and influence what some of these manufacturers are doing. That is why it is important to share and be proactive in this forum."

Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages Technology Solutions, No. 158 on the VAR500 and one of the driving forces behind the BOB conference, said he urged UBM Channel to establish the event because he felt it was critical to forge a new path that will allow the channel to prosper in the cloud computing era.

NEXT: BOB Attendees On Helping Customers Solve Problems

"It certainly has become very evident over the last 12 to 18 months that the world we operate in has been changing very rapidly," said Dupler, whose company is building its own private-label cloud service and has won numerous awards for its cloud computing leadership. "Cloud computing has changed the world we are operating in dramatically and is having a big impact on our go-to-market strategy.

"This is all about getting a group of thought leaders in this industry from the traditional channel, from the applications side of the house and service providers to really collaborate, talk about what is going on, what it means for our businesses and really try to drive this more effectively and efficiently to all of our benefits," he said. Key to making that happen is solution providers talking frankly about what is going on in their businesses, said Dupler.

Tony Jimenez, founder, president and CEO of MicroTech, Vienna, Va., No. 67 on the VAR500, said the secret to success today lies in "trying to figure out what makes life easier for people." Innovative technology products such as e-mail have led to huge productivity gains for businesses, he pointed out. "That has allowed people to do twice or even 10 times as much as they were doing before," he said.

Jimenez said the business-sharing theme laid out by BOB conference keynote speaker Lisa Gansky, co-founder and former CEO of oFoto, a photo-sharing Web site that was bought by Kodak, is key to succeeding in the cloud era. He said far too often technology is underutilized. "We let our severs sit half-utilized," he said. "In its simplest form, it is called load-balancing. If an airline had 10 flights coming to LA and every one of them was half-filled, they would cut it down to five flights a day. It is about collaboration and utilization to gain efficiency. That is what the focus should be on."

Eric Ransden, managing director of technology solutions for International Computerware Inc., a Marlborough, Mass., company named to UBM Channel’s Tech Elite 250 list, said it all comes down to staying focused on helping customers build their businesses.

"Technology is secondary," he said. "It's about the value you provide your customers to improve their business results. We are always pushing the envelope with technology to give our customers new ways to solve problems. That's what gives them a competitive advantage. If we can solve the problems our customers have and exceed their expectations, then we will have them as customers for a very long time."