Channel 2020: These Trends Are Overhyped, Least Understood

How do you know what technology is overhyped or underappreciated? These panelists give us a reality check on tech.

Lynn Haber

September 3, 2019

5 Min Read

It’s a great time to be in the channel – right? But do you ever feel that you don’t know who mor what to believe when it comes to making strategic technology decisions for your business or advising your customers? Are you selling a ton of digital transformation services or IoT gear? How far in front of the next trend do you get before you risk being left behind? Or is the industry moving so fast that opportunity is passing you by?

Then the panel discussion, “Reality Check 2020: The Most Overhyped & Least Understood Trends in the Channel,” part of the business strategy track sponsored by Nextiva at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C., is for you. Here, four channel leaders – panel moderator Marie Rourke, founder and chief channel strategist with WhiteFox Marketing; Dave Sobel, senior director, MSP Evangelism at SolarWinds MSP; John Tonthat, vice president enterprise sales with Ingram Micro, and Christopher Rajiah, senior vice president, global alliances and partnerships with Alert Logic, will discuss some overrated and underappreciated developments in the channel.


WhiteFox Marketing’s Marie Rourke

They shared a few of their thoughts ahead of next week’s event.

Channel Futures: Marie, you’re the panel moderator, set up the discussion for us.

Marie Rourke: Digital transformation isn’t new, but it is extremely well branded and blanketed across not only our industry but the businesses our industry serves. Channel partners need to be clear on what’s hyped to happen and what’s happening now. The fact is innovation is constant in IT. Partners need to keep track of the latest technology and they need to reality-check customer consumption of what’s now and what’s next.

Hear from these speakers and dozens more industry leaders at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 9-12, in Washington, D.C. It’s not too late to register!

They also need to assess: What’s the appetite for an emerging technology? And, is the solution something they need to create, or simply consume as a service?

CF: Let’s dive into to what you consider overrated.


SolarWinds’ Dave Sobel

Dave Sobel: I think digital transformation is garbage, totally overrated. The idea that there’s one digital-transformation thing that you need to do, one particular project and you’re done, doesn’t focus on what digital transformation is.

If you dig into what digital transformation is, it’s this idea that business is changing because of technology — well, this has been inevitable for all of time. You have to be constantly evolving. Business always moves forward; this is inevitable.

I’m not denying that there are factors going on in terms of the way businesses are being changed. Some models of business have been disrupted. We all pick on the taxi industry being disrupted by Uber because they got it so wrong. What I can also say about the taxi industry? They weren’t paying attention. They got fat and lazy and they got disrupted — they could have changed if they were paying attention to trends. Digital transformation is a continual process of investing in technology and understanding what’s changing and what you need to do.

CF: John, you focus on midsize to large companies and enterprise customers — how do overhyped or underappreciated trends that you’re seeing translate for the small and medium business (SMB) market?

John Tonthat: In my space, digital transformation is happening at scale and is picking up velocity with every passing day. Here’s an example of what digital transformation looks like at scale at a very large French cosmetics company: They are digitally transforming all of their store locations, their own stores and kiosks and retail stores whereby when you come up as a customer it will facially recognize you right away. Through a series of questions, they’ll connect you to your social profile and that manufacturer will then decide …

… the price you pay for mascara that day, that week, that month as it relates to other data points that they gather for you.


Ingram Micro’s John Tonthat

So, we’re seeing this type of business process, go to market, customer experience transformation happen. Customers are spending real money to implement these solutions. The question, arguably, can be asked, at what point does a multimillion-dollar cosmetic company that has enormous resources and money to optimize its sales revenue translate down to a SMB or midmarket solution?

CF: What about one underappreciated development?

DS: One development I think is currently underappreciated and way more important than people are giving credit to is digital ethics and privacy. We’re starting to ask the question, not can we do this, but should we do this? I think all companies are going to need to think about what their ethical policies are and how they treat people.

You can see the early elements of that in the move toward the customer experience. They want to know that if they give you information, you’re not doing bad things with it.

JT: The topic of customer experience and how it translates into dollars, I think is least understood and a problematic discussion and dialogue because it’s a bit esoteric unless you have specific use cases — of which there are.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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