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Verizon, CenturyLink, AT&T at WTG Event: Partners, Education Key to Digital Transformation

The carriers were speaking at WTG's Tee & Sea in Arizona.

James Anderson

March 16, 2018

6 Min Read
Verizon, CenturyLink, AT&T at WTG Event: Partners, Education Key to Digital Transformation
WTG digital transformation panel

WTG TEE & SEA — There’s a price to pay for the businesses that neglect the next wave of technology.

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WTG’s Cory Dzbinksi

The companies that ignore digital transformation will lose 12 percent of revenue on average, according to McKinsey & Company. The adopters, however, will likely see a 16 percent revenue increase — and that’s a 28 percent upswing.

Cory Dzbinski, WTG training development manager, shared these numbers with partners at the WTG Tee & Sea event Friday. Notable channel figures from Verizon, CenturyLink, and AT&T joined him on stage as he moderated a digital-transformation panel.

There’s a hall of fame for businesses that successfully pivoted their products and services, but there’s a graveyard of companies that refused to evolve.

Lego made a successful transition from simply manufacturing plastic toys to producing video games and movies. GE used Internet of Things (IoT) technology to build analytics and connectivity into its products. But Circuit City and Blockbuster are cautionary tales of the laggards.

“Where all of you sit, and where we sit working with you, we can help businesses optimize their own business to get better, to become more competitive for their future. If they don’t, they’re going to fall behind,” said Kevin Leonard, AT&T’s vice president of alternate channels and leader of the AT&T Alliance Channel.

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AT&T’s Kevin Leonard

For the businesses that WTG partners serve, marketing is one of the areas where digitization is crucial. Studies show that video is becoming the dominant medium on the internet and, therefore, one of the components of a successful marketing email.

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WTG’s Vince Bradley

WTG CEO Vince Bradley said security is one of the obvious technologies that’s begging to be adopted. There’s no shortage of headlines about data breaches, and the Internet of Things is driving concern for securing devices. Yet he says distribution is very slow reaching SMBs with security services.

“We’re not even talking about it with them,” he said. “And someone else is going to step in there.”

There’s resistance to change. Many businesses don’t have a digital-transformation strategy. A Smart Insights study found that 9 percent of businesses have had a plan in place for two years, 21 percent have just started, and 37 percent don’t plan to implement a digital-transformation program. In some cases, this is because they aren’t intentionally considering it. In other cases, they are weighing the cost.

“The problem with most companies is people don’t want to do it. Because it requires a capital outlay. It requires somebody managing it and taking the time to say, ‘I’m going to have to …

… invest in this and go through these steps and make the change to do something different,'” said Bill Hooper, managing director of the partner channel at Verizon-owned XO Communications.

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Verizon’s Bill Hooper

But although plenty of businesses are nervous about making changes, there are drivers that they can’t avoid.

Vince Bradley cites cloud migration as a key driver, but another inevitable factor is the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law that goes into effect in May.

“Every business in the world is going to have to comply with what’s going on there,” he said.

John DeLozier, CenturyLink‘s vice president of strategic partners and alliances, said that customers and their partners are simply catching up with the rest of the modern world.

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CenturyLink’s John DeLozier

“Enterprise follows consumer,” DeLozier said. “Our expectations have really changed.”

DeLozier told Bridgepointe Technologies partners last month about the CenturyLink study of 3,000 Fortune 5,000 companies and their plans for digital transformation. Ninety-two percent of those businesses said they would use a third party to assist with those changes.

Leonard says these businesses typically face a large skills gap.

“There’s a massive skills pivot that has to take place in businesses, and that’s where all of you can come in, because if you keep your skills up to date and are always ahead of the game, you can help them through that transition,” Leonard said. “And you do it by clearing up that fear of the unknown. There’s such a fine line between fear and excitement.”

The channel makes a lot of sense for businesses that are scrambling to patch holes in their skill set.

“They either have to build it internally, they have to hire for it, or they can partner. The fastest way to start is to partner,” Leonard said.

DeLozier and the panelists agreed education is key to bridging this gap. He referenced a partner who is an expert in data center.

“That makes it easier for that partner to go to that customer with his expertise and be able to practically say to them, ‘Look, you sell widgets. Here’s a better way to sell widgets. Here’s how you can do it. We can make your life easier,'” DeLozier said.

WTG hosted agents and suppliers at the Scottsdale, Arizona, event. One of the exhibitors is BCN, which announced its partnership with WTG earlier this week. Our recent podcast featured WTG’s director of sales operations.

Spring Training

Steve Garvey, the longtime Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman and MLB Hall of Fame candidate, opened the morning activities with a speech.

Garvey won the 1981 World Series, 1974 National League MVP honors and reached the All-Star game 10 times. He spoke to partners about how …

… the metaphor of “spring training” and team-building applies to business.

He related to the increased use of analytics and sabermetrics in baseball to how successful businesses gain knowledge of their market.

“The winners in business are the ones that look at their competition, analyze their competition and don’t waste a lot of time on the competition,” he said.

Garvey started his MLB career a “wild-armed” third baseman who didn’t make the starting lineup. But after successful outings as a pinch hitter, management asked him if had ever played first base.

He said yes, although that experience was from a Little League game. But that opportunity was the open door that Garvey went through on his way to stardom.

He says the “carpe diem” mentality changed his career.

“I always said that in life, when opportunities come in front of you, when the skipper says, ‘Can you play first base?’ Absolutely,” Garvey said. “‘Can you manage this?’ Absolutely. ‘Can you lead this group?’ Absolutely. ‘You think we can work together with this other company? I think together we’re going to grow exponentially.’ Absolutely.”

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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