(Pictured above: A crowd packs the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for the Channel Partners Evolution First-Time Attendee Reception on Oct. 9.)
CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — An increasingly diverse and increasingly global partner audience has gathered in Philadelphia.
A brief survey of partners at Tuesday night's First-Time Attendee Reception at Channel Partners Evolution gave a strong illustration of the convergence that seems to be occurring in the channel. The majority (53 percent) of the conference's audience is new to the event, and many of them are MSPs.
Verizon hosted the event, which was open to all attendees making their first visit to Channel Partners Evolution.
Troy Drever serves as the president of Pure Information Technology (Pure IT), a 12-employee business based in Calgary, Alberta. The company targets the construction, professional services, and oil and gas industries. Oil and gas, it's worth noting, form the lifeblood of the Albertan economy, and the idiosyncrasies of the market shape how Pure IT does business.
For example, oil and gas companies use many applications that are heavy on graphics and engineering and as a result are often run on premises.
But Drever said demand is rising for cloud services, although there is a significant knowledge gap.
"A lot of clients are asking for cloud technology, but they don't understand it," Drever told us.
The other major effect of oil and gas on Albertan MSPs is talent. Drever notes that when oil prices drop, corporations slow their technology spending. But when prices rise, big businesses add in-house tech people, and they easily outbid MSPs in terms of salary.
"We're always in this catch-22," he said.
He came to the conference because Pure IT earned a spot on the Channel Futures MSP 501 list. But while he's in Philly, he'll be checking out various parts of the agenda, like the Business Innovation Hackathon he attended Tuesday afternoon.
Matthew Beesley runs Premier Technology Solutions, an Australia-based company that's in the running for the MSP 501 MSP of the Year.
The 16-year-old business has steered through its fair share of transformations, as a recent Channel Futures profile noted. Premier moved away from break-fix to managed services about five years ago and later moved entirely to managed services. But the big change was when the MSP decided to part ways with customers that weren't providing fixed revenue, and intensify its focus on more invested customers. This meant dropping two-thirds of its customer base and leaving clients that were only interested in interacting with Premier on an infrequent, break-fix basis.
It was a big risk for Beesley and his team, but the bet paid off and growth is up.
The MSP 501 awards ceremony will be a key event for Beesley at Channel Partners Evolution, but the Australian said there's a strategic advantage to visiting Philadelphia.
"The U.S. is probably three to five years ahead ahead of us. I come over probably once a year to get a beat on what's going on, because I know whatever's happening here today will be happening in Australia in five years."
Theo Olison is the senior technology consultant for CinnBar-Partners, a two-year-old consultancy based in in Winchester, Virginia. He told Channel Partners that he he hopes to learn new applications that he can share with his customers. That's one of the reasons why he attended the Avant Special Forces Training event Tuesday afternoon.
One of his company's overall challenges is getting customers to embrace new technologies, whether that be with implementing security or migrating customers to SD-WAN.
"People are always entrenched in their old technologies," he said.
We detailed three major weaknesses of MSPs last month at the GlueCon event.
Channel Partners Evolution resumes Wednesday with keynotes and education sessions. Check out Kris Blackmon's report on the Business Innovation Hackathon.