Want to make your business disruption-proof? Reselling digital services is as good a bet as any.

Lorna Garey

August 25, 2017

6 Min Read
Telecom and IT Had a Baby and They Named It Digital Services


Lorna Garey

I don’t know about you, but before I leave Austin, after we wrap Channel Partners Evolution and SDxE: The Software-Defined Enterprise, I’m heading to Antone’s to hear some blues. Students of McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters, debate the deeper meaning behind “The Blues had a baby and they named it Rock & Roll,” from the award-winning 1977 album Hard Again, arguably the crescendo of the post-war blues revival. I like to think Muddy was acknowledging that time and popular taste march on while reminding us that an original riff is rare. Music, like technology and business, is all about mashing up and disrupting what came before.

As Art Wittmann pointed out to me recently, aggressively large digital-service vendors are disrupting the channel as we know it. “Disruption” is what you call it when Amazon goes after the call center market — existing call center providers argue about who’s got the best features. Amazon is going to make a “good enough” service that guts that market. At least that’s its intent.

Our goal when programming education across the Austin shows was pretty simple: Equip attendees to use disruption to succeed in digital-services selling, and to help their customers avoid being “Ubered.” Here, in no particular order except what day they’re on, are my Top 5 sessions to help you do that.

1. Marketing Now: Omnichannel, Digital & Data-Driven with Khali Henderson, senior partner, Buzz Theory Strategies. If your idea of omnichannel marketing is an email followed by a phone call, welcome to 1997. The science of selling has come a long way. Today you need video, social, data analysis, sales alignment, events — all in pursuit of a consistently excellent customer experience.

Why I like it: Have you seen the growth trajectory for video? YouTube has more than 180 million U.S. users who upload 400 hours of video every minute. That’s disruption. Millennial end users and customers want to communicate and consume content visually, on tiny screens. What does that mean for your business?

2. Future of the Channel: The Changing Buying Journey, Hyperspecialization and New Shadow Influencers with Jay McBain, Forrester principal analyst, global channels. Line-of-business executives are increasingly leading technology decisions — in many cases, taking over completely from the IT department. These stakeholders are looking to a new set of hyperspecialized influencers to help them plan, implement and integrate new technology with back-end systems. In this session, we will look at what smart partners are doing to capitalize on these trends.

Why I like it: Jay, a veteran of IBM, Lenovo, Autotask and ChannelEyes, just joined Forrester as principal analyst, global channels. When he says “this might be the most disruptive period in the history of the channel,” that’s worth a listen.

3. New Stack City with John White, VP of product strategy, Expedient; Grant Kirkwood, founder/CTO, Unitas Global; Gerry Le Canu, senior cloud solutions engineer, Rackspace; and Bill Kleyman, CTO, MTM Technologies. Three top CSPs will discuss how and why they chose the platforms on which they run their own private and hybrid cloud infrastructures. We’ll discuss the status of Azure Stack and how it will compare with OpenStack and VMware; explore the hybrid cloud versus multicloud discussion; and touch on new hardware options.

Why I like it: Cloud is the ultimate disruptor, and this is definitely not just for cloud service providers. Microsoft is pushing Azure hard, and every customer will have questions about …

… hybrid cloud and where they should run their workloads. What is your answer?

4. Preparing Customers for a Harsh GDPR Reality with Gary Southwell, VP & General Manager, Products Division at CSPi. When the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect in May 2018, the compliance landscape will change dramatically. A recent PwC pulse survey shows that 77 percent of U.S. multinational corporations will spend at least $1 million each to achieve compliance before the deadline. Under the law, data protection officers become a mandated role — and they will need all the help they can get.

Why I like it: Even if a firm has only a few end customers in the EU, they’re subject to GDPR. The potential penalties are huge, as in the end of the business. Some companies will decide to bow out of selliing into the EU, opening another opportunity. Find out more in our Global Channel report.

5. Selling IoT? Follow the Verticals with Christian Renaud, research director, Internet of Things, 451 Research. Not all customers are on the IoT fast track. In this keynote, Renaud will provide an in-depth look at which industries are actively deploying IoT projects — and, most importantly, why. We’ll discuss leading IoT use cases and applications as well as key purchasing factors, and we’ll spotlight the new decision-makers. Finally, we’ll explain how IoT sales traction is fundamentally different from the traditional IT buying process and reveal what you can do to expedite the sale.

Why I like it: You still have time to get into the business of facilitating IoT, an unstoppable force that Wired says has the potential to create massive disruptions in telecommunications, cable/ broadband, cloud computing and even how we define the Internet. But not much time. If you’re wondering where the entry point is, look to your current vertical expertise. There are ops in financial services, medical and manufacturing.

Finally, because we do take our own advice, we’re shaking up our fall event by partnering with an enterprise-focused launch show whose tagline is “Build Your Competitive Edge In An Age Of Disruption.” All-access passholders can hear Shawn Zandi, principal network architect, infrastructure engineering, for LinkedIn, talk about how his network supports greater than 25 percent year-over-year traffic growth in support of more than 400 million users, with an entirely new platform approach. On the expo floor, you can visit our DevOps Lounge, sponsored by Microsoft. You can hear Comcast’s Nithya Ruff, senior director, open source practice; Scott Crenshaw, SVP & GM, OpenStack and Microsoft Clouds for Rackspace; and Jim Jagielski, senior director, Capital One and the Apache Software Foundation, discuss the open-source funding model. Is the current ecosystem sustainable? If not, what’s the answer?

Oh, and don’t miss “Disrupt This: How to Beat the Next Airbnb at Its Own Game.”

Hope to see you in Austin. Maybe catch some blues?


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