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The “Roaring 20s” Are Coming

2020 was a significant challenge, but the roaring 20s will come—thanks, in no small part, to partners.

Comcast Guest Blogger

February 25, 2021

5 Min Read
Roaring 20s
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I started off my New Year’s “Roaring 20s” blog last year referencing the decade of the 1920s and anticipating a similar decade filled with promise for the 2020s. But, as with the last century, our world has been hit with a terrible pandemic–perhaps delaying the “roaring” part of our next 10 years a bit. 2020 was a significant challenge for many of us. Certainly, what the pandemic did to business, our society and our lives was nothing short of catastrophic. And it will be a change event that will have lingering effects into the near-term future. Yet I still believe “The Roaring 20s” are coming in full force. For many, they already started, with 2020 being one of the best years that some of our partners have ever had.

Our partners became even more important because their clients had to transform years of their evolution into just a few months with working from home, cloud computing, cost cutting, security and so much more. And many of them shared that it was the best sales year they have ever had. Beyond that, this was paired with a massive surge of channel industry consolidation that only demonstrates why this channel is so critical. Could it be that this is really the dawn of the “Golden Age of the Channel?” Many think so.

We are now into the 10th year of our channel program at Comcast Business since my team and I were fortunate enough to launch it. We continue to be proud of our team’s tenure and know that Comcast Business will be around to support our partners whatever tomorrow may bring, including M&A moves.

There is a significant amount of cash and investments coming in to grow our channel to the next level. A short sample includes:

  1. Telarus took in a major investment from Columbia Capital to help grow their team and their I/T tools to help their partners succeed even more.

  2. AppSmart acquired Telegration, Netstar, CNSG, GCG and MicroCorp, to name a few. And now they are adding in apps with network services to offer a full suite of end-to-end services to their downstream clients.

  3. Bridgepointe bought Clover to expand their footprint in the East.

  4. TCG bought GTS.

  5. Upstack acquired the bases of many downstream agents nationwide.

  6. Many other PE firms are now looking at even more agent acquisitions.

It is clear that this channel is highly valued, and the timing to consolidate and invest for future growth is ideal.

We learned a lot of lessons in 2020 and we had to do so much more than we thought we were capable of–and our partners did, too. Notably, these areas come to mind:

  • We found a way to help relieve the network costs for many SMB and mid-market customers as they adjusted their business models to deal with COVID-19. We also reduced billings for a number of months to assist them in this transition.

  • We helped our partners work with us to win many deals, and we had more teamed deals with our direct organization than in any time in our history.

  • We earmarked over $100M for DE&I initiatives to support the issues we faced with social injustice.

  • We transitioned our team of about 150 people to go virtual and work in a distracted home environment almost overnight. And many of us had never used Teams before! This was unprecedented.

And despite all of that, we were able to come in just slightly down from our results in 2019 due to the tremendous efforts of my leadership team, our Indirect employees and our partners.

That brings me to 2021. It’s our year of the Network Crew, and the “Golden Age of the Channel” is marching forward rapidly. We started the Comcast Solutions Provider Program (CSPP) in March of 2011, and it seems like it was yesterday. I remember it well, with only six employees at the time. Today we see more partners becoming Solutions Advisors than ever before using our network assets (namely, connectivity and SDN) to pair up with the solutions they are selling with UCaaS, CCaaS, Cloud, IaaS, security and so much more. We are proud of what we have accomplished in those years, and we are well on our way to becoming over a billion-dollar channel in the next 10 years or less.

In a work from home (WFH) world, the network is now the most vital asset to any company’s ability to function–more so than any IT component. Without a stable, secure and robust network, little would be getting accomplished during the challenging times that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented. So, we designate ourselves as “The Network Crew.” We take this on with a great sense of pride as we tirelessly support our partners in solving their customers’ network and network management challenges. We want to be known as the Crew that helps our partners sell the most reliable last mile network asset on the planet (broadband or fiber) supported by the best management of that network asset (SD-WAN and our ActiveCoreSM platform). When you think of Comcast Business in the channel, just think of that. It became our new moniker in 2020, and we are doubling down on it in 2021.

Partners that succeed through this next decade will be the ones that are able to cover the spectrum of all solutions that a customer may need: data connectivity, desktop productivity apps, security, SDN, UCaaS, IoT and much more.

So, let’s turn the page on 2020 and take the good with the bad learnings from it all. The vaccine is out, the stock market is at record levels, businesses are starting to move quickly again, and the dawn of the Golden Age of the Channel is here.

Carpe Diem!

Craig Schlagbaum is Senior Vice President and Channel Chief, Comcast Business.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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