Channel Chiefs 2018: What Market Force Is Having The Biggest Impact On Your Channel Strategy?

A Forceful Impact

The tech industry is constantly in flux, with continuous growth and innovation creating a laundry list of technical complexities that require new talent and introduce a variety of new security threats.

Artificial intelligence projects, for example, not only require an increase in processing power, but also in man power, creating an overwhelming need for data scientists.

The Internet of Things is streamlining entire industries, but connecting devices that were never meant to be connected is introducing an insurmountable amount of security risks.

For vendors, this rate of change underscores the importance of channel partnerships. A solid solution provider stable can be the conduit for a vendor's technology to function effectively in the field. So what market forces are having the biggest impact on your company's channel strategy for 2018? And what are you doing to accommodate for it?

We asked the honorees of the Channel Chiefs 2018 list to shed a little light on the market forces that are shaping their company's channel strategies right now. Here's what they had to say.


Geoffrey Ashley

VP, Partner Strategy & Programs

Market consolidation is making ERP "hot" again - as bigger companies acquire smaller independent ones - but it's also causing disruption and uncertainty to channel partners' businesses. Many longtime resellers from other partner programs are now joining Acumatica, where the partner commitment and product roadmap is quite transparent. This market force shows no signs of abating, and as the big companies get even bigger, adding to their internal sales teams and treating partners as competition, the Acumatica channel strategy will remain consistent: to be 100 percent channel-driven, with no internal field sales, so we can deliver the most value to midmarket customers.

Arrow Electronics

Rita Walston

Senior Director, Marketing Programs

I believe the biggest market force for 2018 is the continued move from licenses to XaaS. The annuity model changes how the channel builds revenue and its compensation structure. We are working to provide our channel partners the market intelligence, credit options and other information and tools they need to bridge the gap and allow them to not only weather this change, but thrive.

Dell EMC

Michael Collins

SVP, Channel, EMEA

The digital disruption has created a gap between traditional IT and new IT. While companies and organizations are hungry for digital transformation, they need to find a way to bridge this gap. It's one of the biggest challenges they face and where the technology industry, especially the channel sector, has a pivotal role to play. This is the fuel to Dell EMC's 2018 channel strategy, where every new support platform, program or credential is designed to help partners guide enterprises on their digital transformation journey, accelerate their cycle of innovation and create competitive differentiation.


Joshua Geist


The dramatic shift from data capture to data analytics is causing the greatest shift of our channel strategy. While many in market solutions have already addressed capturing and storing data, data analytic solutions have typically been focused on legacy deployments and costly infrastructure. Through the AI capabilities and substantial advancement of big data solutions, data analytics through Machine Learning has opened up an entirely new field for service providers which represents one of the largest revenue and success opportunities for the channel.


Chris Sullivan

SVP, Global Channels and Alliances

In just a few years we've seen the traditional paradigm of building a monolithic store to drive analytics that no longer exist. Business insight is now derived wherever the data resides throughout its entire lifecycle and real-time decisions are made at the point of interaction. From effective global data management comes data science, machine learning,= and AI capabilities. Our channel strategy is hinged on building strategic partnerships, especially with resellers, ISV and global system integrators, that will allow the ecosystem to capitalize on this phenomenal opportunity while delivering faster time to value for customers.


Balaji Subramanian

Global Head, Channel & Alliances Sales and Strategy

The continued shift of customer buying patterns to a total solution versus individual point products is having the biggest effect on our channel strategy. More and more we are finding that customers want to buy these solutions from partners. The growing importance of global system integrator influence in our major accounts pushed us to create a new and innovative program we call the Solution Advantage Program. We are also taking advantage of the marketplace solutions that many of our distributors have built with converging vendor technology.

Kaspersky Lab

Jason Stein

VP, Channel Sales North America

In North America we're seeing the channel move to a subscription-based model. VARS that used to identify as VARs primarily are now identifying as MSPs, therefore we've focused our efforts on supporting our partners however they chose to consume our services. We've embraced this change to ensure that MSPs that want to do business with us can thrive and flourish. We recognize that businesses need many different layers of security to protect their organization beyond the endpoint. Our channel program will continue to go beyond traditional offerings to support the complete threat intelligence services businesses need now and in the future.


Nancy Reynolds

VP, Channel Sales

One market force that continues to challenge all of us is the shortage of technical cybersecurity professionals. Earlier this year, LogRhythm hosted its inaugural user conference, RhythmWorld. The event received such rave reviews that we want to extend that same technical knowledge transfer and content to our partner community. In 2018, we are increasing our investment in partner enablement, specifically on the technical community within our partner ecosystem. One of the first initiatives that we are embarking upon is a redesign of our annual partner conference by transforming it into a technical summit with more hands-on workshops and certification programs.


Michael Coleman

VP, Mobile Channel

The growth of the public cloud means that many of our partners' customers aren't buying servers, storage and networking products from the channel because they can procure them via AWS or Azure. To overcome these headwinds, we are working with our partners to build innovative, customizable, "non-Cloudifiable" mobility solutions.

For example, a hospitality company bought our VR solution, which allows prospective timeshare buyers to explore properties via a headset. Similarly, airport customers are using wearables to dispatch cleaning services to restrooms and wheelchair associates to gates; and health insurance companies are using wearables to track their customers' health and fitness.


Rich Long


The shift from premise to hosted voice. Most of our legacy suppliers were not born in the cloud, yet like us, they are transitioning to meet these market demands. We're supporting our resellers through this transition.

With the help of Intelisys we're using their strength in UCaaS to bring these new solutions to our partners and providing education on building a new practice focused around these technologies and new models. We are also investing in our legacy brands in their transition to hosted models by adding people, new financial models and hosting capabilities.


Jeff Zobrist

VP, Global Solution Partner Sales

Digitization brings enormous business benefits to our customers and profitable opportunities to our partners - however it is disruptive in nature. The pace of disruption and expectations of midmarket customers continues to accelerate and change, which requires our partners to adapt to the new business reality and adopt more forward looking priorities. For FY18 we are focused on supporting the ability of our partners to deliver end-to-end solutions, maximizing their expertise in our software, providing customer choice in purchasing and delivery models, while strengthening services delivery.


John Sorensen

VP of Finance, CIO

Cloud data storage is having the biggest impact on our 2018 channel strategy. As it grows in popularity among end users and adds more capabilities, cloud data storage is one of the biggest driving forces in our product development. To leverage this momentum, we are offering our partners robust cloud solutions that build upon our on-premise and virtual backup appliance models, leveraging both internal and external public cloud options and enabling our partners to offer solutions that meet the ever-changing data protection requirements customers are facing.


Jim Ritchings

SVP, Worldwide Channel Sales

The key market force having the most significant impact on our channel strategy for 2018 is the continued increase in cyberattacks across all industries driven by well financed and motivated criminal gangs and coupled with a shortage of cybersecurity talent. These elements have come together to create significant opportunities for value added resellers to incorporate managed security services in addition to the security products they are already selling. These managed security services will be a prime focus for us in 2018 and beyond.

Zebra Technologies

Michael Mughetto

Senior Director, North America Distribution Sales

The biggest market force at work today is the growth in online ordering and related changes in customers' purchasing habits. This global phenomenon is often underscored during conversations with partners and end users who reiterate the similarities between the way enterprise customers — like general consumers — choose the digital option and buy online. To accommodate this fundamental shift, we are working with distribution partners to enable more automation of product catalogs, pricing files, marketing content and EDI ordering. The goal is to provide better content and an improved automated experience to our distributors, for the ultimate benefit of the entire channel.