Thanks to the coronavirus, we had to postpone our spring show. The result is a first-ever combined show that promises to be our best ever.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

April 6, 2020

6 Min Read
IT security professionals should take a moment to celebrate their successes this morning Penton Media and SolarWinds the Austinbased IT management
IT security professionals should take a moment to celebrate their successes this morning. Penton Media and SolarWinds, the Austin-based IT management software provider, today released the findings of a new IT security preparedness survey that shows we’ve all come a long way, baby. “The most surprising finding of the survey is just how many organizations are less vulnerable today than they were a year ago, and, on a related note, how many have implemented security technologies and better security training,” said Mav Turner, director, business strategy, SolarWinds. “The survey data seems to reflect a shifting focus from fear of cyberattack, to the implementation, maintenance and refinement of established and effective security systems,” said Dr. Kristin Letourneau, director of research at Penton. Read on for five key takeaways and view the whole survey here.Thinkstock

In March, Channel Partners had to make the very difficult decision to postpone our flagship spring event, Channel Partners Conference & Expo, thanks to escalating concerns over the spread of coronavirus. The event was set to be one of our most educational conferences ever, with sessions based on your feedback, an incredible preconference workshop, and a slew of downloadable materials to accompany most sessions.

Our sponsors pulled out all the stops to create a show floor packed with creative boothshelp desks and consultation stations. We had several high-energy, fun sessions like our Thunderdomes, a new debate series with experts weighing in on hot topics, and improv sales training.

Postponing Channel Partners Conference & Expo

The event landed at a particularly ambiguous time during the COVID-19 pandemic. By and large, formal travel restrictions weren’t yet in place. While we kept a close eye on the situation, things escalated quickly in the week leading up to the Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

On Monday, the vast majority of our attendees, speakers and sponsors were still gung-ho about coming to Vegas. By Thursday, we started to see massive numbers of people withdrawing from the show. This was either because of personal health concerns or mandates against travel issued by their own companies. By Friday afternoon, we knew that for the sake of our communities and our employees, we had to postpone.

The Convergence of 2 Shows

We spent the next couple of weeks searching for the best alternative. We explored ways in which we could still serve up the educational and in-person networking benefits of Channel Partners. After lots of research and discussion, we came up with a plan that would be the most widely beneficial. The best course of action, we decided, would be to combine the spring event with our fall show, Channel Partners Evolution.

The Channel Partners Conference & Expo is somewhat geared more for our telco audience than our other communities, and Channel Partners Evolution leans a bit more toward the IT side of the channel. In our newsroom, we’ve been talking seriously about more convergence between the two channels in the last couple of years. A silver lining for this situation is that we have a chance to bring our two communities together. We got the opportunity to learn from one another, form relationships and find new business opportunities.

Introducing … ‘Expolution’

What can you expect from this new, combined show? It’s the biggest channel show of the year, which we have fondly nicknamed “Expolution.”  Almost all of the content we had programmed for Expo will be included. The sales training, business best practices and security education are applicable to both audiences. You’ll see more IT folks on our keynote stages, and we’ve added new sessions that focus on additional technologies.

For the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, we challenged each of our speakers, moderators and panelists to develop an educational asset for their session: a workbook, reference sheet or list of resources, for example, that gives attendees tangible materials they can use to act upon what they learned from each thought leader. That push will continue for Expolution. If you’re looking for top-notch education to tide you over until then, check out our Channel Educational Series page on Channel Partners Online and Channel Futures. Many of the webinars in that series feed directly into …

… our events.

What and Whom to Expect

Whom can you expect to see at Expolution? We’ll open the event with the same incredible preconference workshop we had planned for Expo. Industry consultants, partners, vendors and community leaders will walk through how to succeed in today’s ecosystem. This will include preparing for a merger or acquisition and positioning your company to scale up. This half-day workshop touches on all aspects of business planning. And, through smaller roundtables, it gives our leaders a chance to work one-on-one with attendees. As an added perk, industry consultants like Will Harris and Janet Schijns are offering free one-hour consultations to select attendees. You’ll leave armed with the knowledge and reference materials you need to up your business acumen.

You’ll still see all of our Debate 2020 sessions, with a rousing debate on convergence opening the show. Influencer of the Year John DeLozier will lead his mainstage panel on how to engage with influencers in this space, and the highly respected Jay McBain will tell us how we should pivot our business best practices to compete in a post-COVID world.

Success Stories

We’ll also have a few of our MSP 501 special award winners talk about their success stories. Joining them this year will be winners from our brand new list, the NextGen 101. This new list recognizes outstanding non-MSP partners devoting resources to building out their own managed-service practices.

Will Harris will still be on stage to teach us about sales and prospecting strategies, but he’ll add material that’s particularly relevant in light of this pandemic. Not only that, but we partnered with Will’s philanthropic foundation to support his super-cool program to support kids in the foster system.

Of course, we have to repeat our extremely successful Shark Stage. That’s where innovative companies looking to develop their indirect sales channel can pitch their ideas.

Educational Aspects and Networking Opportunities

Apart from these mainstage and Channel Partners Theater sessions, we’ll have more educational sessions covering a diverse range of topics. These will include everything from sales strategies, demand generation, security vulnerabilities and emerging technology.

No Channel Partners event would be complete without a slew of networking opportunities. Our combined conference will offer our First-Time Attendee Reception, annual MSP 501 Awards Gala and a closing-day brunch to honor our Excellence in Digital Services award winners.

Our show floor will be packed with creative boothshelp desks and consultation stations. We have several high-energy, fun sessions lined up, like our Thunderdomes, with which you’re familiar.

In short, we’ve worked hard to bring you stellar content that’s applicable no matter where you sit in the channel.

See You in Las Vegas!

I hope you’ll join us for Channel Partners “Expolution,” Sept. 8-11, at the Venetian & Sands Expo in Las Vegas. As one of the first non-vendor shows in the second half of the year – when we expect travel restrictions to be lifted and the immediate threat of coronavirus to be significantly lower – we have the opportunity and responsibility to lead partners through best practices of running their businesses in a post-COVID world. We know things will never return to how they were before this pandemic. We want to make sure our attendees are well-positioned to succeed in the new channel normal.

Thanks to all in our industry who have offered support and encouragement as we figure out a path forward. We know this combined show will be more diverse than ever before. We can’t wait to see you in Vegas!

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like