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Pax8 Promotes Donovan to Lead New Experience Team

Despite increased focus on vendor and SMB customer experiences, MSPs will remain the real heroes, Donovan said.

Jeff O'Heir

August 9, 2023

5 Min Read
New Pax8 customer experience team led by Craig Donovan
Photon photo/Shutterstock

Pax8’s Craig Donovan learned a lot from the 10 years he served as a head coach for one of Colorado’s biggest Special Olympics basketball teams. He’ll continue to apply those lessons in his new role as the company’s chief experience officer.

“It certainly reinforced this need to listen and to meet individuals where they are, whether that’s the athletes I coached or the businesses we get to work with. Everybody has their own powerfully personal and unique experience,” said Donovan, who also coached high-school basketball for about a decade. “Whether you’re coaching athletes, leading employees or working with businesses, it all starts out with what’s personal to them, what’s important. Once you can connect at that level, then you start to understand where to go next. And that has influenced everything I’ve done here at Pax8. It’s really the vision behind the new team.”

New Pax8 Team Will Also Manage SMB Customer Experience

That new team is the Pax8 Experience Team, which Donovan will lead in his newly created role. The roughly 25-member Experience Team will develop and oversee the experience of Pax8’s vendors, MSP partners and SMB end-users, who fall under a new customer business unit. The team’s focus will center on integrating the three group’s into Pax8’s new AI, data-driven marketplace, scheduled for a hard launch sometime next year. The company plans to soft launch of a few of the marketplace’s key features with select partners in the fourth quarter.

Here’s our list of channel people on the move in July.

The new customer business unit is led by Simon Lee Smith, Pax8’s vice president customer experience who left Vodafone Business in June as global head of SME, transformation and digital. The unit will manage the experience of SMB end-user customers who initially search for products and services directly on a Pax8 vendor partner’s site. The vendors can direct the lead through a “buy now” button on their site to Pax8’s MSP partners. Donovan and his team will also work closely with Nikki Meyer, corporate vice president of Pax8’s Vendor Alliance.

“The goal now is to bring together all of those very personal experiences and really understand what [the different groups] need,” Donovan said. “The magic here – and this is the idea of the ecosystem – is to get those experiences to be relational and understand how partners, vendors and customers interact. By using that understanding, we can influence the direction of the marketplace and drive new programs and initiatives within Pax8.”

That coordination among the vendors, MSPs and SMB customers is key to Pax8’s new marketplace. The focus represents a major, ongoing change in the channel where more end-users go directly to vendors’ sites early in their buying journey. The “buy now” button redirects the sale to designated MSPs who are best positioned to serve that customer. Pax8 is integrating AI, advanced analytics and other tools to help MSPs and vendors better understand ad serve the SMB customers’ wants and needs.

Pax8’s Craig Donovan: AI, Analytics Creating Channel Shift

Donovan-Craig_Pax-8.jpg

Pax8’s Craig Donovan

“A lot of this drive is what we’re seeing that the channel, which is absolutely shifting,” he said. “The legacy distribution model of vendor, distributor, partner, customer is changing.  A lot of it has changed because the customer’s buying behavior is changing. The channel is fragmenting in a way that doesn’t work for any of the three.”

The fragmentation has led to vendors getting more leads than they can service at scale. MSPs can provide the services but need help acquiring customers. And the customers have an idea of what they want but need the consultative and integration services of a trusted MSPs.

“This is where this idea of the Pax8 marketplace and this ecosystem concept comes from,” Donovan said. “If we can broker the relationship between the three independent stakeholders, there’s more room for all of us to grow together.”

In his previous role as vice president of partner and other services, Craig Donovan helped design the professional services automation integrations for Pax8’s marketplace, with a focus on enhancing the partner experience; developed its professional services program; and spearheaded the launch of Pax8 Academy. All of that experience, much of which you don’t find on a resume, fits well into Donovan’s new role.

“From the beginning at Pax8 I’ve developed such a deep affinity with our channel; with the partners and how they run their businesses,” he said. “That focus, this fixation on experience, is not new to me. What we’re actually doing now is broadening our charter to give it that same depth of investigation into our vendors and their customers as well.”

Despite the attention the Pax8 Experience Team will pay to vendors and SMB customers, its focus is to drive as many sales through the company’s MSP partners as possible, increasing their client base, revenue and profits along the way, Donovan said.

“Even though we’re talking about a broad ecosystem and three different stakeholders, it’s critical to note that the partner has always been and always will be the center of the story here,” he added. “They are the hero of this particular story.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article on Pax8? Email Jeff O’Heir or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

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About the Author(s)

Jeff O'Heir

Jeff O’Heir is a journalist and editor who has spent much of his career covering the business leaders, issues and trends that define the IT and consumer technology channels. His work in print, online and on stage has showcased, educated and connected small and large solution providers, MSPs, channel pros and vendors. During his career, Jeff has also covered engineering technologies and breakthroughs, crime, politics, food and the arts.

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