21 Game-Changing Tips For Success In 2014

Changing The Game For IT Buyers

MCPc, the fast-growing SP500 national power that has changed the solution landscape with its own Anyplace Workspace solutions architecture, hosted top tech executives at its Game Changers conference on Jan. 9. Executives from MCPc and leaders from some of its top vendor partners offered insight and advice on what it takes for solution providers to succeed in today's business environment. Here are 21 leadership maxims to help you grow your business.

1. Treat Everyone With Respect

MCPc Chairman and CEO Mike Trebilcock (pictured) said the secret to success for the Cleveland-based national solution provider, which has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent for the past several years, is the company's culture of respect.

"We treat our partners, our customers and our employees all the same," said Trebilcock. "You treat each other with respect. You are in it together. We put everyone on one [level] plane and treat everybody as human beings, just like you would treat your friends.

"It's a culture of respect and fairness," he said. "It is something we are quite proud of. We have been able to keep that culture [for 50 years]. It is a culture of 'Manners Matters.' It's as simple as that. That's a game-changer. You have to have the right people and the right attitude. We can teach them the skill sets in many cases."

2. Embrace Change

The single greatest "human folly" is resisting change, said Doug Keeley, CEO of The Mark Of A Leader, who emceed the Game Changers event. "I get why we do it: Change can be hard," he said. Among the companies that suffered because they did not make tough choices were Atari, which invented video games and was displaced by competitors, along with Polaroid and Kodak both "crushed by digital photography," said Keeley. "The list of organizations that were once leaders in their industries but didn't adapt and change as the world did includes some incredible brands that ultimately became dinosaurs," he said.

Keeley singled out one-time IBM Chairman Lou Gerstner for the "single greatest turnaround" in business history. IBM was plagued by multibillion-dollar losses when Gerstner took the helm, said Keeley, implementing a gut-wrenching restructuring that sharply focused the company on services.

3. Be A Selfless Leader

Leadership is a selfless act. In fact, the most powerful definition of a leader, said The Mark Of A Leader's Keeley, is someone who helps others to be their best. The most powerful example of a selfless leader, said Keeley, is the explorer Ernest Shackleton, who successfully led his 28 men through a seven-month Antarctic winter with average nighttime temperatures of -50 degrees on a ship, The Endurance, which was ripped apart by the ice.

Shackleton's mantra was that leadership was everyone's job. "You all must help each other to get out of here," he said. "We are all getting out or no one is getting out." In contrast, a ship named the Karluk ran into exactly the same circumstances but the captain abandoned his post, leaving the remaining men to bludgeon each other to death over the dwindling food supply. "What was the difference between the disaster of the Karluk and perhaps the greatest survival story of all time, the Endurance? One word: leadership."

4. Take Advantage Of A $19 Trillion Game-Changer

Howard Charney, senior vice president of the Office of the President for Cisco and one of the driving forces behind the Ethernet technology revolution, said the value of the economic growth that will be driven by connecting devices to the Internet will be an astronomical $19 trillion over the next decade. That is going to require partners and customers to embrace a completely new way of doing business, said Charney. "The value accrues from finding new and innovative ways to do things," he said.

One example: University of Toronto Computer Scientist Carolyn McGregor, whose big data analytics research on premature baby heart rates is being used to create algorithms to predict when a baby is at risk of health complications. "Imagine if you could treat premature babies with medication 24 hours before they got sick," said Charney. "Think of what that would mean. It would mean a reduction in mortality in the premature baby wards of hospitals."

5. Reshape Industries With Game-Changing Technology

Every industry will be completely transformed by the Internet of Everything revolution, said Cisco's Charney. "We are in the middle of this structural transformation, and this structural transformation is going to change everything on our planet. Nothing remains unchanged. Everything gets altered -- communications, retail, health care, government. Everything."

Education, for one, is in the midst of a "seismic upheaval," said Charney. "It is very uncomfortable for those people because they just don't understand that technology is going to change everything about what they do. The classroom is going to be rearchitected. The mechanism by which people learn will be rearchitected. There is a lot of resistance. But let me tell you, they are going to do it. Kicking and screaming, they are going to do it, and the same is true for all of the other sectors of the economy."

6. Embrace 'As-A-Service' Computing Models

Customers and partners must embrace IT-as-a-Service computing models that are disrupting old computing models in the mobile cloud era, said Sanjay Poonen (pictured), executive vice president and general manager of end user computing for VMware. "You cannot run things in the context of control or silos," said Poonen. "Everything is about building things as a service. So it is not just Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). It is now IT-as-a-Service, where everything is built, whether it is a private or a public cloud, to serve your constituents."

VMware is moving ahead with what it sees as a huge game-changer with its Desktone hosted desktop-as-a-service offering. VMware acquired Desktone last October and is aggressively rolling it out through its partner network. Poonen, for his part, said the service offering has effectively slashed the price in half for virtualized desktops from $725 per user to $350 per user, while at the same time increasing performance, management and reliability.

7. Defy Convention

One of the guiding principles of the VMware culture is to always defy convention, said Poonen. "We are always going to defy convention," said Poonen. "If things can't be done in a certain way, we are going to find a way that we can get it done in a disruptive way so that it lowers costs and brings a better and faster benefit to our customer." Poonen pointed to the seminal work done by his Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen called "Disruptive Innovation." "Over time, there is always a faster and nimbler way to do things, and if you are not on the wave of driving that innovation, you get disrupted," said Poonen.

8. Make Cost-Conscious New-Style IT Decisions

Customers and partners must make sure they make new-style, cost-conscious IT choices as they adapt their IT infrastructures, said Sue Barsamian (pictured), senior vice president and general manager of worldwide indirect sales for HP's Enterprise Group. "Our point is, you cannot take today's network infrastructure, architecture or economics and scale it to support that [Internet of Everything] in a way that anybody is going to be able to afford," said Barsamian. "It's as pure and simple as that. It has to be supported in a new style that doesn't look like the old style, or the economics don't work."

HP, for its part, has made game-changing bets on new technology, including software-defined networking advances with a "great financial value proposition for the customer and partner," said Barsamian. More than 90 percent of HP Networking sales go through the company's channel partners.

9. Invest In Software-Defined Converged Infrastructure

Customers need to invest in converged infrastructure offerings that change the data center game, said Barsamian. "Whether it's virtualization or virtualized desktops or a series of new bundles, customers are embracing converged infrastructure for specific software-defined workloads, said Barsamian.

"Over time, less and less of the compute infrastructure and environment will be generic, and more and more you'll get the engineered bundles, the software defined cartridge for Moonshot," said Barsamian."Every Moonshot cartridge you buy from HP is for a workload. There is no such thing as a generic Moonshot cartridge. It doesn't exist. Do you want the Moonshot cartridge for websites or digital signal processing for telcos."

10. Create A Culture Of Sacrifice

The truly great companies create cultures in which employees are willing to sacrifice for one another, said NetApp Vice Chairman Tom Mendoza. "You have to show people you care," he said. Mendoza made it a point to log 10 calls a day to employees stepping up under trying circumstances.

Mendoza gave a motivational speech to a group of Marines who within four months would be leading a 32-person unit into battle in Afghanistan. His advice: Learn "everything" about those Marines in their unit -- their hopes, dreams, aspirations -- and be willing to die for them. "If it is between you coming home alive and them coming home alive, they are going to come home," Mendoza told the leaders. "They have to know that." That advice brought every Marine to their feet in a salute to Mendoza. "That was a life-changer for me," he said. "It's all about attitude, commitment and sacrifice."

11. Take Technology Risks

Thriving in the 21st century requires taking technology risks, said Mendoza. One of the underlying principles at NetApp is to take risks. "The normal thinking on that might be: We are in IT, we don't take risks," said Mendoza. "You don't take a risk, you just took a risk. You don't make a decision, you just made a decision. Sitting still is not safe. With all the disruptive influences in the market today, if you don't take risks, your business will be left behind."

One of the keys to taking those risks, says Mendoza: A culture of candor. "If people don't believe that if they come up with a new idea and you will potentially do something with it -- why are they thinking?" he asked. Good managers encourage risk by empowering employees, said Mendoza.

12. Invest In Mobility

Investing in mobility is a game game-changing IT investment, said Al Monserrat, senior vice president of sales and services for Citrix. "We think that mobility is at the top of [the list for] IT investment," said Monserrat. That investment in mobility comes down to providing businesses the ability to get the data they need anyplace, anytime and anywhere.

"Ultimately, it's about mobilizing the business and empowering employees to do their work from anywhere," said Monserrat. That requires a full portfolio of tools and services to mobilize the modern workforce, he said.

"When you think about the components that are required to truly deliver that from an IT perspective, you need to deliver legacy apps and Windows apps," said Monserrat. "You need to deliver web apps, SaaS apps. You need to do that in a secure manner optimized over a network. You need to manage the device that it is going to. You need to enable secure data sharing."

13. Go Long And Deep With Your Partners

"Having more partners is not necessarily a good thing," said Citrix's Monserrat. "You want to have loyalty, focus and commitment from your partners, especially your top partners." That means always being responsive and going above and beyond to make partners successful. "We want our partners to be successful," said Monseratt. "We want them to be happy. We want their customers to be happy. At Citrix, we have 300,000 customers.

When you think MCPc, every individual customer is a lot more important to them than it is to me. I know that. I want to make sure that they keep all of their customers happy and that they make all of their customers successful. I understand their business and I understand the importance of every individual customer to them. I want to make sure that we are always there for them when they need to deliver to that customer. And I believe that is the thing that makes us the most different."

14. Recognize Solution Providers As Technology Game-Changers

Key to succeeding in the fast-paced technology market: Recognizing solution providers like MCPc as the main point of influence in "doing right by the customer" to solve pressing business problems, said Robert Faletra (pictured), CEO of The Channel Company, which develops prescriptive sales and marketing solutions for the technology channel and publishes CRN.

"The reality is the point of loyalty in today's market is between solution providers like MCPc and their customers," said Faletra. "If they don't do right by the customer, nobody wins. They don't win. The customer doesn't win. And certainly the vendor doesn't win. But if they do, and they deliver the right solution with the right technology and the right products, everybody wins. So market dynamics have allowed solution providers to become product-agnostic, which is where we are today."

15. Transform Your Business

The cloud-computing revolution requires companies to change both their business model and technology infrastructure, said Faletra."It's a really big change," he said. "This is really different. It is both a business function change and a technology change."

Faletra recognized MCPc as one of the companies that has crossed that business model and technology chasm, changing the game with its Anyplace Workspace offering as the winner of the CRN SP500 Business Transformation award. "MCPc consistently ranks very high consistently on any list we provide, whether it is the SP500, the list of the 500 largest solution providers in the world or the Tech Elite 250 Group," he said. "Whatever list we provide, MCPc seems to find its way on it. We think it's a great example of a company with innovation. The Anyplace Workspace is quite unique and built for the customer."

16. Hire Game-Changers

MCPc Chairman and CEO Trebilcock has driven explosive sales growth by hiring game-changers. The most recent game-changer: Brian Kinne, one of the drivers behind the telepresence video boom in the technology business.

Kinne, who was recently named MCPc chief technology officer, video and collaboration, was instrumental in establishing telepresence pioneer TeleSuite some 18 years ago. Kinne also co-founded Destiny Conferencing, acquired by videoconferencing company Polycom, with Kinne accepting a role within Polycom’s Telepresence leadership group, helping drive big telepresence sales gains in the medical market. Treblicock credits Kinne with driving Telepresence technology as a game-changing market force. He said the hiring of Kinne provides MCPc a significant competitive advantage as the company builds out its Cisco Telepresence business. MCPc itself is a significant Cisco Telepresence user, recording a combined usage of 175 days over the last year.

17. Liberate Your Data

Steve Lalla, vice president and general manager of end user computing solutions for Dell, said key to success is to provide a full set of solutions around "liberating" customers' data. "It's about how do you make that content and data accessible to different pieces of glass, whether it is a phone, a tablet, a TV, a monitor," he said.

One technology game-changer for Dell is its Dell Wyse Cloud Connect product, a $129 device that allows "you to turn any monitor or any TV into a full desktop," said Lalla. "It's secure, manageable, wipeable, 128-bit encryption, multifactor authentication, and it allows you to get to both your personal desktop and your corporate desktop. It also allows you to get to the Google Play Store. It also allows you to use packet cloud to tunnel back to your personal desktop or your personal phone. This is disruptive. This changes the game. This enables glass to get to your data, your content, your apps, all served up out of your data center."

18. Develop A Unified Go-To-Market Strategy

Curtis Hutcheson, vice president and general manager of Enterprise Solutions for Dell, said that key to success in the technology business is developing a unified go-to-market strategy. "When we sat down with MCPc, the first thing I said is, 'We have 1,700 enterprise sales reps in North America; they are now your reps," said Hutcheson. "I don't have any more direct reps. I have got reps that have relationships with end customers. Every single one of them is open to leveraging a partner. And in certain examples, they are going to have incentives to bring in a partner."

Dell's Enterprise unit, in fact, aims to move the channel sales needle from under 30 percent of total sales to more than 50 percent sales, said Hutcheson.

19. Disrupt The Old Data Center Model

"We are going to completely disrupt the traditional data center model," said Hutcheson. "We are convincing customers and showing that it is more compelling to deliver IT-as-a-Service. If they want to speed up their infrastructure, they can see more business app capability and spend less time back in the data center walls. Start over. Go with converged."

In the past, Hutcheson said, Dell was focused on conversations with customers around "what they need from an infrastructure standpoint. We are now going in and saying we want to have a conversation about what are you trying to accomplish? What workloads are you running? What is your most important workload right now? Alright, it's a big data application tied to all your analytics. Now what are you running it on? And let us show you a solution that gives you dramatic improvement in the ability to run that."

20. Set Big Goals

MCPc has tripled in size over the last decade. And now it has set a goal to triple in size once again, said MCPc Chairman and CEO Trebilcock. "The goal would be: Can we triple again?" he said. "And does it take us 10 years or something less than that? We think our brand supports that. We think the talent we have in the organization absolutely supports that. We think the breadth and depth of what we do for a living is absolutely what our customers want. As you think about capex to opex [IT solutions], we have enough breadth and depth to take advantage of that."

We are going to try to grow as fast as we can. Cleveland is a tremendous place to have a corporate headquarters. It is cost-effective to be here. Much of what you do with managed services is centralized here, so we have a nice cost structure with an empathetic Midwestern mentality."

21. Focus On Customer Satisfaction

Focus on customer satisfaction rather than sales targets, said Treblicock. In fact, MCPc has won the Cisco Gold Star in customer satisfaction scores for an amazing 15 consecutive quarters. "Customer satisfaction is our culture, he said. "We saw many companies go belly-up because it wasn't that important to do the projects right. They were more focused on making money. We were more focused on whether customers were happy."

When MCPc runs into problems, it steps up to the plate for customers to solve the problem. "Technology is fickle, so we throw cash and people at bad situations immediately," said Treblicock. "It absolutely affects the profitability of the transaction. But the culture and brand is doing what's right."

MCPc has 420 employees with 75 solution architects and engineers and over 30 dedicated virtualization architects, and 70 account managers. All in all, MCPc has 140 associates with more than 1,200 certifications.