The telecom and technology industries are both powerful. Their merging is exposing more potential than conflict.

Lynn Haber

March 22, 2017

5 Min Read
Telarus, Intelisys, Synnex, TBI Look to the Future

Lynn Haber**Editor’s Note: Register now for the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, the gathering place for the technology services community, April 10-13, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.**

Like the vendors and partners they serve, the business of being a distributor or master agent is evolving and partners need to understand what those changes are, how they’re impacted, why they should care, and what to expect in this part of the partner ecosystem in 2017.

GTDC's Tim CurranDistributors and master agents pave the way for partners to bring the newest, most innovative technologies to bear on the customer’s transformation journey. To get more thoughts on what distis and masters are up to in 2017, we caught up with several speakers from the keynote, “Distis & Masters Look Ahead,” at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

The complete list of panelists includes: Tim Curran, CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC), moderator; and panelists Adam Edwards, president and co-founder, Telarus; Jeff Newton, vice president, sales and engineering, TBI; Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president, cloud transformation, Intelisys; and Tim Acker, vice president, mobility and connected solutions, Synnex.

Channel Partners: As the moderator, Tim, let’s hear your thoughts about this session.

Tim Curran: These are two powerful industries – the telecom industry and the technology industry – and they are beginning to merge. There are some conflicts, but more importantly, there are more areas of potential collaboration and opportunities to integrate and deliver complete technology and telecom solutions to customers.{ad}

Intelisys' Andrew PryfogleOne of the goals of this panel for me is to educate the audience – many who are telecom-related – so I’d like to open people’s minds to consider talking to some of the technology distributors. Technology distributors can deliver any software or hardware product from any manufacturer – HP, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, for example – all of those companies work with the tech distributors and they can deliver products overnight to anybody.

The point is that telecom is becoming a big issue so … the IT and the telecom worlds are beginning to merge and solutions do require technology products and also connectivity products and services.

CP: Perhaps one of the biggest stories in 2016 was the acquisition of Intelisys by ScanSource — the marriage between compute and connectivity distributors. What do partners need to know about their distribution/master agent partners in 2017?

Andrew Pryfogle: Our acquisition by ScanSource was the first real acquisition of a master agent by a large distributor. It was very telling and it’s evidence that the distribution world is recognizing the power of …


… recurring revenue and ScanSource made a bold move by buying the market leader to expand their message as the go-to distributor for cloud and carrier services.

Telarus' Adam EdwardsLooking at 2017 we see the convergence between the traditional VAR channel and agent channel accelerate. The cloud is the driver to that and also the shift to an as-a-service model. We expect to see that accelerate this year and what that presents is an opportunity for both sides to position themselves for more complex-oriented deals. And, it allows people on both sides greater access to customer share of wallet.

CP: Adam, you’re on the master-agent side of the house, I’d like you to address what trends you see happening in 2017.

Adam Edwards: There are a few things going on that I see, such as more investment in personnel and more master agents going local and getting their people out in the field to be able to engage more closely with the agent, even going on customer appointments together.

We’re also seeing the rise of cloud evangelists. Several companies have this position where they’re trying to say to the market, “Come here to sell cloud.” They’re also standing up a university or individual — be that an engineer or promoter of the cloud message.{ad}

TBI's Jeff NewtonMaster agents seem to be unified in this, which is trying to get their subagents to have a broader conversation into cloud services. Some are moving faster than others.

CP: What about you, Jeff? What are you seeing for this year?

Jeff Newton: New technologies continue to be a central focus, and companies are rapidly evolving to meet the needs of SD-WAN, cloud enablement — and hardware providers, like Cisco and HP, are changing their offerings to more of a hybrid solutions, not just selling boxes.

So TBI is changing to make sure that we stay in line with what the channel is demanding. Those demands come by way of more folks that can talk Cisco and discuss with selling agents or customers what they need to be aware of when addressing Cisco needs with their customers, or Juniper, or HP or Microsoft.

The evolution is continuing toward SD-WAN, aggregation services and showing our agents and customers why they don’t necessarily need to go and put all their eggs in one carriers basket for fiber and MPLS.

CP: There are changes and challenges ahead for distributors and master agents. This session will identify some of the challenges and what’s being done to deal with them, as well as what partners and agents should expect to see unfold in 2017.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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