During a phone call a few minutes ago, former SAP Global Channel Chief Pat Hume described why she made the leap to GFI Software, a fast-growing SaaS and on-premise software provider that works closely with managed services providers (MSPs). What attracted Hume to GFI Software? And as Senior VP of Worldwide Sales, what are Hume's channel priorities as GFI Software seeks to work more closely with SMB solutions providers? Here are some insights.
The simple story: An executive recruiter contacted Hume about the GFI Software's channel chief position. Hume met with GFI Software CEO Walter Scott, the two saw eye-to-eye on the future of the channel, and she quickly decided to join the company. The entire process was "a matter of weeks," said Hume, who officially joined GFI Software about two weeks ago.
SMB Channel VeteranPreviously, Hume held top channel-related positions at SAP, IBM-Lotus and Avaya. In addition to her big business experience at SAP, Hume spent much of her career building and driving SMB channel programs within the halls of IBM-Lotus and Avaya. "If you know anything about me you know I love SMB and I love the channel. I think about the future of the channel with respect to MSPs, the cloud and how SMBs are going to buy [IT solutions and services] -- and what GFI has to offer."
When Hume met GFI CEO Walter Scott she was "totally impressed. He's a brilliant guy who gets it. I think GFI can be a market maker in this space. I see an opportunity to bring all of my experience forward into a company where I can have an immediate impact. That's important in this phase of my career. I can drive a channel strategy and execution, and have little latency. It's a time in the channel when you have to act with speed."
Have It Your WayHume is quick to note that GFI Software has SaaS and on-premise solutions -- including a range of mail archiving, security, fax and compliance solutions that run on premise, as well as email security and remote monitoring software delivered via SaaS. "The SMB market is huge; there will be leaders and laggards in terms of IT adoption. We've got a good, broad portfolio of on-premise and SaaS offerings. We're not a one-trick pony. We don't have just one product."
On the channel front, Hume is taking a global perspective. Just last week she was in Europe meeting with distributors, and GFI's channel programs will blanket the globe, she adds. Her first priority: Making sure GFI Software's go-to-market strategy is crystal clear, and really demonstrate to the channel that we're darn serious about their importance to our business."
No doubt, GFI Software has a promising story for VARs and MSPs. But the company also faces intense competition from nimble MSP software providers plus forthcoming alternatives such as Microsoft Windows Intune and other cloud-based services for MSPs.
Bigger PictureAdmittedly, I've been a bit outspoken about GFI Software's decision to hire Hume. Assuming Hume and Walter Scott really have a shared vision for the IT channel, I think Hume's move to GFI Software is a watershed event for the managed services market. It signals that seasoned executives from massive technology companies are taking notice of MSPs and the SMB sector.
During the first decade of managed services, the industry grew from the bottom up -- as entrepreneurs built dozens of MSP software providers. Over the next decade, perhaps we'll see more of a top-down approach, as more and more channel chiefs from large IT companies take a look at MSP space... and potentially dive in.
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