This week we caught up with Thomas Brownlee, executive vice president of Worldwide Sales for Kaseya, a company specializing in IT management solutions for midsize businesses and managed service providers (MSPs).
Brownlee has worked in the channel for more than 25 years, and has served in a number of executive-level roles, including director of sales as BMC Software and as vice president of Sales at Delphix. He joined Kaseya as the company's latest channel chief in September 2015.
The VAR Guy: In your 25 years in this space, what are some of the biggest changes you've seen? Have you noticed any kind of recurring patterns?
Brownlee: I think a lot of the things are pretty much the same in the sense that the channel offers a company the ability to be a force enabler, or allows them to get into certain areas that they wouldn't normally be able to. Sometimes that can be based on geographies, where they're not located or have resources, or sometimes it can be in a particular vertical that a channel partner might focus on.
TVG: When we're talking about the channel and the state of transformation that it's going through, what is the opportunity that gets you the most excited for the near future?
Brownlee: For me specifically here at Kaseya, I think it's one of education. Many of our channel partners, the MSPs, are enjoying working with Kaseya because we're helping them to grow their business. So we're helping them to offer additional services that they might not have thought about offering before, or might not have had the skillset or the technology to do before. We're helping them to increase revenues, to move towards high-margin service offerings with the technology we provide.
A lot of it's about education and enablement, helping them to understand how they can meet their customer needs. For me, that's a tremendous amount of fun.
TVG: Do you see the role of the channel chief evolving in a similar way?
Brownlee: It's been evolving since I started with the company, for sure. I think that one way in which the role of the channel chief is continually moving is toward becoming an educator, continuing to enable our partners to grow their business.
Over the next two years, I see myself working to be a partner in our customers’ success. We develop technology that enables them to create service offerings that meet their customers' IT needs. But it's all about enablement, it's all about helping to develop our partners.
TVG: Would you say that that's the element of your channel program you think is most beneficial to your partners?
Listen to Brownlee's answer below.
TVG: If there was one initiative or change that you could implement in your program tomorrow, without any kind of growing pains, what would it be?
Brownlee: Something that we plan on continuing to do is really offering workshops for our customers and our partners. They don't necessarily always know how to grow their business.
Let's just take identity and access management for example. That's something that's new to many of our MSP partners. They don't know how to build a business around it. They don’t know how to price it. We already have some of those building blocks today, but we'll continue to enhance them to deliver to our partners our service offerings in a box. It's my job, it's Kaseya's job to be able to teach them how to come to market with these new service offerings.
TVG: If you had one piece of advice for channel partners trying to position themselves for success, what would it be?
Brownlee: My advice to them is to act quickly. Because if you don't, your competition will. And then you run the risk of losing market share to the competition.
TVG: What is the thing about the channel that makes you the most frustrated?
Brownlee: It's probably the lack of urgency. My job is to help them understand the opportunities in front of them, and help them to see the sense of urgency and act with a sense of urgency so they can take advantage of these opportunities.
TVG: Do you have a piece of advice that you have gotten that's stuck with you and guides the way that you do business and build relationships in this space?
Listen to Brownlee's answer below.
TVG: What is the one thing that you wish everyone would understand about the channel?
Brownlee: I wish everyone would understand that the channel requires investment from both sides. Channel customers need to commit, and they need to invest in enablement of the solutions. And the company, Kaseya for example, needs to invest as well. It's a huge, amazing opportunity to grow our business, but it takes investment, and it's not something that you can just talk about. You've got to invest in resources, you've got to invest in enablement, you've got to invest in people, and you've got to invest in your relationships with your customers.