It has become an annual tradition once we cross into the second half for CRN to look back at the year so far to assess how key companies are performing and how important trends are shaping up.
The first six months of 2020 were dominated by the spread of the global coronavirus pandemic. This led to tough economic times for the world at large as countries closed their borders, businesses shut down and 12.6 million people globally were diagnosed with COVID-19, resulting in 560,000 deaths, according to figures reported by the World Health Organization in mid-July. Millions of workers became unemployed, while millions more found themselves working from home.
As companies, schools and health-care organizations scrambled to adjust to doing business amid the lockdown, it became apparent that technology vendors and channel partners had a key role to play: working with customers to jump-start their digital transformation initiatives; getting laptops, printers and videoconferencing tools into the hands of people working and learning remotely; and helping hospitals, clinics and doctors find new ways to treat patients.
Then the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off a wave of protests and civil unrest, not only in the U.S. but also across the world, bringing calls for increased efforts to end racism.
Meanwhile, the channel itself had to adjust to doing business in the new normal as partner conferences and other industry tech events were canceled or turned into virtual events, sales meetings turned into Zoom calls and solution providers looked to their vendor and distribution partners for financial help during trying times.
With all of this going on, it’s perhaps no surprise that the CEOs of some of the world’s biggest tech companies had a few thoughts to share. Here are the ones that best encapsulate the important happenings and trends of 2020 so far.
Marc Benioff, founder, chair and CEO of Salesforce, during the company’s first-quarter fiscal 2021 call with financial analysts on May 28
“I’ve been on more sales calls with more CEOs in the last two months than at any time in my career, and there’s universal agreement among them: Digital transformation, while this isn’t a one app [solution], it’s a must-have. Organizations and governments around the world have a digital transformation imperative like never before, and many of them are accelerating their plans for a digital-first work-from-anywhere environment.”
Sanjay Mirchandani, president and CEO of Commvault, in an interview with CRN published July 6
“I don’t know if the world’s [ever] going to look like it did five months ago. You know, you jump on a plane, you fly across the country, you go for a couple of meetings, you meet customers. I don’t know if it’s going to be quite that way anymore. I think there’s a level of efficiency, of being able to do things without all of that. That will be part of the new world. And I think that our channel is doing the same.”
Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, in two March 19 tweets referencing a video showing people in Miami on spring break without practicing social distancing or wearing masks
“Anyone in this video, please don’t apply to work at Dell [Technologies or] at VMware. And also please don’t apply to [SecureWorks, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Boomi] or MSD Capital.”
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, in a June 1 tweet
“There is no place for hate and racism in our society. Empathy and shared understanding are a start, but we must do more. I stand with the Black and African-American community and we are committed to building on this work in our company and in our communities.”
Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, in a May 30 tweet
“*What* will it take for us to refuse to accept these unjust killings of Black people? How many people must die, how many generations must endure, how much eyewitness video is required? What else do we need? We need better than what we’re getting from courts and political leaders.”
Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, in a May 30 tweet
“What’s happening in the U.S. is abhorrent. It’s far overdue for all of us to take action to eradicate systemic racism, xenophobia, inequality and all forms of bigotry in America. How we respond will be an important moment in our nation’s history. Cisco will lead. #blacklivesmatter”
Bob Swan, CEO of Intel, in a keynote address during the virtual Intel Partner Connect conference May 20, marking the first time in several years an Intel CEO had appeared at the chipmaker’s annual channel partner event
“These partnerships are so important to us. Your innovation, your ideas, your leveraging [of] technology to solve big problems is such an important part of what it is that we do because on our own we can’t do that much. We’re so dependent on our partners and our channel partners to solve some of these challenges.”
Rich Hume, CEO of Tech Data, in an interview with CRN published March 20 in which he discusses the impact of the pandemic on the channel
“It’s becoming very clear that our IT ecosystem is a vital link to enable companies to continue with work-from-home efforts. Vendors, distribution and resellers are enabling the world to be able to do that. ... The community becomes very small and tight when crisis emerges. We turn to one another with any challenges and issues and hope to resolve them. ... I would encourage any part of the ecosystem to reach out. If Tech Data can assist in any way, we’re happy to help.”