This panel sparked a lively discussion on leadership challenges and lessons learned from the pandemic.

Allison Francis

November 3, 2021

4 Min Read
CIO Panel CP Expo 2021

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — There is no doubt that CIO priorities have dramatically changed along with what IT leaders expect from strategic partners. We have all heard the clichés about digital business, disruption, transformation and work from home, but channel leaders need to understand what customers really want and need going forward. After all, IT leadership in 2022 is shaping up to look completely different than it has in the past based on all the lessons learned from the pandemic.

So what are the priorities of today’s customers, and what are the challenges they are facing? Where can partners truly add value, and what do they need to stop doing immediately?

As customers plan for 2022 and beyond, channel partners need to understand the high-impact trends, the business demands IT must respond to and the growth challenges those businesses have to face. And let’s not forget the constant cybersecurity threats they face every day. 

In a keynote panel entitled “Everything Your Customers Won’t Tell You“, these challenges were addressed by four influential customers who shared their insight and wisdom with the aim of channel partners being able to strengthen relationships and attract new customers.

To discuss these topics were Scott Wessel, SVP and CIO at the MGM Resorts; Matt Pasco, vice president of technology for the Las Vegas Raiders; Gary Sorrentino, global deputy CIO of Zoom Video Communications; and Doug Pontious, CIO, CTO, and business intelligence and analytics executive. The panel was led by Bobby DeMarzo, VP of content at Informa Tech, the parent company of Channel Partners and Channel Futures.

How the Pandemic Changed Leadership Styles

Scott Wessel: We went from 10 people working from home to about 8,000 people working from home. It was rough at first; we had to find the right partners and vendor to link up with.

Gary Sorrentino: Our clients and our employees changed at the same time. We needed to keep clients connected to their companies. Their focus changed completely to “how do we help you?” How do we work with everyone to keep them connected? That was the first step, everything else fell into place after.

Matt Pasco: We had completed our move to cloud already. We had built the new [Allegiant] stadium, [home of the Raiders], which was interesting timing. For us, connectivity was at the forefront.

Doug Pontious: The whole pandemic — the first time in my career, I saw the opportunity to be the IT hero. I saw the opportunity to step in and be a part of a strategic discussion, and then figure out how to stay there. Partnerships — that’s where it’s at. 

Being An Adviser

Pasco: Technology has changed. It grows organically. We can shepherd the flock to something beneficial, but you can only suggest so much. You must listen and accept and then translate how they use those tools for security. How do we utilize our partners and their tools to their benefit? These are things that need to be top of mind.

Sorrentino: You must keep the partnership going — the good ones. It’s a two-way street. Be there on the journey throughout new functions and processes. 

Pontious: Ask your partners what you really want from a relationship — that’s step one. The CX and PX are so important. We need to have straight-through processing. You have to take problems and fix them, but you also want your customers to come to you with opportunities. Those are the partnerships to look for. 

Bearish or Bullish Approach to Spending

Sorrentino: The [metaphorical] plane is close to the ground. I think there will be a lot more decision making and on how we leverage spend the right way. 

Wessel: We look at the guest experience. Can we improve? What do we invest in to do that? Also, what do we invest in these properties? The Bellagio as an example. We just invested a ton of money running fiber through the hotel, which improves the guest experience. So, we look the pain points of the customer and how to address those.

Pontious: We have hired a whole squad to do UX. We have to aggressively go after digital transformation. We also have data actuaries. We’re looking to replace some of our major systems. That’s survival.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like