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The master agent/distributor has come a long way since "Inteli-golf."

Craig Galbraith

October 4, 2017

4 Min Read
Intelisys Channel Connect panel

(pictured above, left to right: Intelisys’ Andrew Pryfogle, Jay Bradley, Rick Dellar, Rick Sheldon and Dana Topping)

INTELISYS CHANNEL CONNECT — Jay Bradley affectionately remembers “Inteli-golf.”

That was Intelisys‘ debut event 20 years ago, which was no more than “a handful of guys on the golf course.” The master agent/tech distribution giant has come along way in two decades.

After a long run of hosting Channel Connect in the heart of Napa Valley wine country, Intelisys moved its annual event to the central coastal community of Monterey, California, to accommodate 1,200 attendees. Perhaps best known for its connections to John Steinbeck and Clint Eastwood, this part of California will be home to Channel Connect through at least 2019.

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Intelisys’ Jay Bradley

“One partner in particular told me,” Bradley, Intelisys’ president, recounted to Channel Partners, “‘I always come with the goal of learning one new thing. As long as I can learn one new thing, I’ll keep coming back.”

Education is a big part of the agenda at Channel Connect, with breakout sessions featuring topics such as SD-WAN and cloud contact-center sales.

“Cloud has already won the argument around contact center, yet roughly 12 percent of global contact centers are cloud-based,” Andrew Pryfogle, Intelisys senior VP, cloud transformation, told the audience at Monterey’s Golden State Theater on Wednesday. “[Customers] are waiting for you to call them; they need your help to figure this out. We’re investing heavily in our own cloud contact center practice.”

Pryfogle outlined a series of digital-transformation drivers that are critical for partners to know. First, people and companies are buying differently than they used to — citing his own recent experience buying an exercise bike with call-center help, starting with chat and ending in a phone call.

“Your customers have to get smart about how they sell products and services,” he noted.

Also significant are the rise of mobility, an infusion of millennials into the workforce, and globalization. When asked how many attendees have customers with global interests, almost everyone raised their hands.

These drivers, of course, present “massive challenges,” Pryfogle said. Regulatory compliance is a big one — most notably the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which can levy fines on U.S. companies doing business in Europe come next May.

Another challenge is staffing – the industry faces a serious skills shortage we’ve written about countless times – and of course, security.

“Security as a service is such a hot area right now,” Pryfogle said. “If you’re not having the security conversation with your customer, you’re leaving money on the table.”

Feeling overwhelmed? No need if you have …

…a good strategy.

“How are you helping your customers develop a strategy around technology? Right now they are confused; there’s so much they’re dealing with around this idea of digital transformation,” Pryfogle said. “It’s not easy getting there. They get paralyzed by [the massive amount of information].”

The technology portfolio that agents and VARs can sell through Intelisys got a lot larger about a year ago when the company was purchased by distribution giant ScanSource. It was a landmark deal between a traditional distributor and a traditional telecom master agent. It’s resulted in more resources for Intelisys and its sales partners.

“We sat down with Jay and decided that these guys are doing a really wonderful job of recruitment – bringing partners into the community – so how could [ScanSource] help with that? We decided to make some investments to bring in additional personnel, whether it be channel managers, developers, whatever was needed,” Buck Baker, ScanSource’s president, worldwide communications and services, said in an interview with Channel Partners.

Specifically, the company has added more than 40 key channel positions in the past year, filling key roles in Chicago, Houston, Southern California and South Florida. It’s also expanding “Super9” – its three-day intensive training program, part of its Cloud Services University – designed to make partner businesses and their sales staffs more successful.

Excited for more opportunities, some partners would like to see the evolution of ScanSource/Intelisys move even more quickly.

“I’ve seen so much growth, but the pace we have to do it at is from a solid foundation. It’s about providing a better solution for our customer,” said Rick Sheldon, Intelisys’ co-founder. “There are hardware pieces, SaaS pieces, payment pieces [that ScanSource brings to the table] … that’s one thing we’re focused on, is putting that entire solution together. Does that one solution exist today? No, but this is the next step to providing the solution in a broader, much stickier way to the customer.”

“We’re driving change with technology … become that person for your customer,” Bradley added. “Don’t let them go around you for technology.  Be bold enough as you invest in your business. [Tell customers], ‘I’m your guy. I’m your lady. Talk to me first.’ Those are the most successful partners we see out there.”

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About the Author(s)

Craig Galbraith

Editorial Director, Channel Futures

Craig Galbraith is the editorial director for Channel Futures, joining the team in 2008. Before that, he spent more than 11 years as an anchor, reporter and managing editor in television newsrooms in North Dakota and Washington state. Craig is a proud Husky, having graduated from the University of Washington. He makes his home in the Phoenix area.

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