8 Takeaways, Questions from Avant Special Forces Summit

Dozens of Avant partners weighed in on how life is changing for the technology advisor channel.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

October 9, 2023

8 Slides

Technology advisor firms are growing larger, and their once-shadow industry is growing more populated – according to a recent exploration of channel partner trends.

The widening of the technology advisor (agent) ecosystem showed more clearly at the recent Avant Special Forces Summit. Chicago-based technology services distributor (TSD) hosted a collection of technology suppliers and channel partners who source as-a-service technology in a commission-based agent model. Many of those partners, especially those who have spent years in the ecosystem, expressed their intrigue at the number of new faces.


Avant’s Ian Kieninger

“The fact that there’s so many new people here is blowing my mind,” Avant CEO Ian Kieninger said in a keynote address.

These partners, whom Avant refers to as “trusted advisors,” are more colloquially known as agents. They hatched out of the telecom carrier industry decades ago and have been building up customer bases and recurring commissions, all the while brokering increasingly complex technology services. Avant and many of its competitors in distribution have moved away from calling them agents. That’s in part due to the desire to use a more dignifying term and expresses more of the value these companies provide.

Channel Partner Trends: Nontraditional Agents

But it’s also because many of the new partners aren’t agents in the traditional sense. Some are national value-added resellers who have added an agency model as a “hedge” of sorts, or who are eyeing a larger pivot away from hardware sales. Others are managed service providers (MSPs) who want to own more of the customer relationship and want that ownership to include technology sourcing. Still, others come from non-technology industries. Partners pointed to companies from marketing, insurance and financial services who are trying their hand at selling as-a-service technologies.

Those nontraditional entrants are making for increasingly big tent and increasingly overlapping swim lines. Channel partners – particularly those in the agent/advisor model – shared how they’re navigating referral partnerships in light of those changes.

Several other trends are making the channel more interesting. That includes the way many technology advisor firms are hiring and scaling their organizations. Kieninger shared with Channel Futures how Avant is building a “multifaceted” approach to serving the different stakeholders at these growing partner organizations.

More than a dozen partners on-and off-the-record about their experiences working with Avant and the trends they see engaging with customers, vendors and other partners. Go through the images above to view commentary from them and Kieninger about eight channel partner trends.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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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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