We break down the highlights of this week's big channel event.

Robert DeMarzo, VP of Content

April 10, 2022

5 Min Read
CP Expo logo 2021

Every so often, the channel industry comes to what some describe as a tipping, or critical inflection point. It arrives as a change in the channel’s influence and impact with customers, technology providers and others in the food chain that supply today’s direct-selling agents and MSPs with innovative goods and services. Despite being around for nearly four decades, the channel suddenly is being seen in a new and different light. Organizations position themselves as decidedly different than they were in the past. Leaders sport a fresh narrative with their sales teams, injected with confidence and bravado.

Yes, I have seen it all before as the channel continues its evolution. In my many years in the channel, people have said you can almost feel this sudden shift occurring. We’ve seen it in so many moments that have spanned the channel’s move away from just delivering products, to services, then to cloud, managed services, and then to subscription-based models and now to a new era of providing customers what they need to stay competitive and in business. It’s not an overstatement.

One analyst called it a once-in-a-generation shift, while another keen observer said the channel has advanced forward in an era defined by complex interdependency. We like both descriptions because they capture the essence of what is taking place right now, no matter where you are in the channel — seller, marketer, vendor, agent, broker, distributor, service provider or ISV. Throughout the channel’s long history, when the heavens align – as the adage goes – everyone suddenly wants to come together. It’s just the nature of an industry completely reliant on trusted relationships.

It’s not too late to register to join more than 6,500 fellow attendees at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo and co-located MSP Summit, April 11-14. You can also interact with more than 300 key suppliers and technology service distributors, and hear from 200 top industry speakers.

All of the changes playing out in the industry will be center stage at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo and the co-located MSP Summit, held at Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel and Resort this week. The event is the centerpiece of Informa Tech Channels’ efforts to bring the entire channel together under one roof. It has emerged as one of the industry’s largest independent gatherings of channel partners anywhere in the world, spanning so much content, peer engagement and technology demos that you can lose count. What we did not lose count of is the record-setting registration for the event by direct-selling agents and MSPs, the record number of speakers and sponsors, or the top-tier leaders attending so they can talk to partners face-to-face about the market’s opportunities and challenges. It is all coming together under one roof at an important moment for the channel that will be chronicled by the Channel Futures media team on the pages of our website and on our newly launched Channel Futures TV platform for the industry to consume.

There is no cheat sheet to navigate the conference, but here is some guidance on the highlights featuring actionable information for channel leaders:

  • Our keynotes will feature a who’s who of technology leaders from T-Mobile, ThreatLocker, IBM, Intelisys, Google, Upstack, Dell and many others. You don’t want to miss any of the keynotes as executives will be ushering in new programs, go-to-market strategies and services. The CEO of Informa’s technology business will also be on the big stage discussing the critical role the channel plans in the company’s portfolio. Informa is the parent company of the Channel Partners Conference and Expo and Channel Futures.

  • The customer journey will on the main stage as leading CIOs from enterprise and midmarket firms discuss their changing role, as well as what they want from partners going forward. Everyone in the channel is clamoring for more customer insight at the moment.

  • Partners today are more reliant on one another than ever before for advice, so the conference will feature the launch of two channel peer groups. One will bring together direct-selling agents, while the other will gather cybersecurity-focused MSPs. This is an opportunity to be part of something special that will connect peers throughout the year at our events, other conferences —  and virtually as well. Attendees are welcome to become founding members of the peer groups to help steer this effort forward.

  • Speaking of peer content, this year’s event focuses on the voice of channel partners like never before. Everyone likes a good vendor pitch, but most of us like to hear the opinions of peers — especially when they are delivered candidly. That is why we filled the agenda with a plethora of panels featuring emerging and leading voices in the channel on key topics such as the talent challenge, how to unlock fast growth and the big issues facing managed services and recurring revenue.

  • The conference track is loaded not only with peer content, but deep dives designed for specific businesses. We can all glean generic business advice at any conference, but coming to this conference gives partners an opportunity to drill down into how to improve the metrics of their specific business. You just cannot clump it all together as the value diminishes.

  • It wouldn’t be a Channel Partners Conference unless there was a lot of fun and a huge exposition hall where everyone can gather. Check our website for the long list of parties and receptions, including our very own 25th Anniversary party.

Final Thoughts

What we are witnessing in the channel today is one of the more jarring changes in a long time. Perhaps it is the result of massive business model changes caused by the pandemic or myriad other reasons. One thing has become very clear: A new generation of leader is entering the channel. We are seeing that every day as longtime partner organizations sell or merge in attempts to scale. For some, this is a moment to invest; for others, it’s a chance to sell. I often wonder if those who are selling are doing so too soon. No matter, that discovery along with much more will take place over the course of the event.

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About the Author(s)

Robert DeMarzo

VP of Content, Channel Futures

Robert DeMarzo is the vice president of content for Informa Tech Channels.

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