Here's the transcript of our podcast conversation with 8x8's new global channel chief.

Craig Galbraith, Editorial Director

July 2, 2018

8 Min Read
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Throughout 2018, we’ve been spotlighting our Channel Partners/Channel Futures Channel Influencers of the Year, selected by our editorial team for innovation in the “new channel.” (Read our profiles of Comcast Business’ Craig Schlagbaum, Forrester’s Jay McBain and TPx’s Hilary Gadda.)

About the time we were to interview John DeLozier, another of our honorees, he dropped a bombshell: He was leaving his post at CenturyLink to become the new global channel chief at 8×8. It would be our most-read story in June.

So we wasted no time in hooking him for an episode of the Channel Partners podcast, “Coffee With Craig and Kevin.” What follows is the transcript from our chat with DeLozier. To listen to our full conversation, click here.

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Kevin Morris: What was it that drew you to 8×8, leaving behind what many would think is a pretty good gig at CenturyLink, not only in the channel, but in communications period?

DeLozier-John_8x8.jpg

8×8’s John DeLozier

John DeLozier: I get that question as you can imagine every day. I can tell you that the folks at CenturyLink were nothing but good to me. Lisa Miller, [president, wholesale, indirect and alliances] and Garrett Gee, [vice president of indirect sales] and that organization over there are going to be just fine. But somebody told me a long time ago that you don’t ever want to run away from something; you want to run to something. And that’s what I did. Remember, I come from the collaboration/UC/contact center industry. That was my passion; that’s what I did for years and years before I made it to the provider side. So, really what we’re doing here is what we did in the late ’90s and 2000s, but we’re doing it in the cloud. So not only was it an opportunity to go to something that I love, but it was also an opportunity to join an amazing company … We own all of our own software, in the midst of a $50 billion industry where there’s about 10 percent penetration. Honestly, it was an easy decision for me. They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had to make the move.

Craig Galbraith: Let’s look back at your time at CenturyLink. You were there more than two years. What are you most proud of from your time there?

JD: We had such a good run there. … What I’m most proud of there is our partner program. CenturyLink was one of the companies that invented the channel as we know it today. Their program for years and years was very much at the top of the food chain. And I think over the last few years, it got – stagnant is probably way too tough of a word – it got a little dusty. Bill Corbin, [senior vice president of channels and alliances, 8×8, and formerly SVP, alliances and strategic partnerships, at CenturyLink] and I were able to come in and dust it off and put in place a real program fit for purpose that I think will go on for years to come. So I was really proud of that medals program – Ascend – that we were able to put in place at CenturyLink.

KM: What are some of the first things that you plan to take on as channel chief at 8×8?

JD: We try to keep it simple over here, Kevin. We try to keep it simple wherever we go. The fact that Bill Corbin and I both ended up here is a huge plus. He can cough two times and grunt, and I’ll probably know what he means based on the fact we’ve worked closely together in the past. It’s really three things. The first is build[ing] a team fit for purpose. The good news is we’ve inherited a lot of good folks here, and there are some other good folks who will probably wind up joining us. That’s a nice plus. The second thing is to …

… build a program fit for purpose. We are somewhat in an infancy from a channel-program perspective here at 8×8. Now, that doesn’t mean that really good folks didn’t put in a lot of hard work into it before we got here, but it’s ready to go to the next level based on a number of industry factors. And then thirdly, it’s “make your number.” That’s what makes it go around. In the midst of upgrading the engine and painting the car that’s moving 90 miles per hour, you’ve got to make sure you do that. We’re really excited about it.

CG: Let’s talk more about the technology of UCaaS, obviously one of if not the most competitive technologies in the industry. What’s it going to take for 8×8 to remain a leader in this space? I’ve got to think your channel’s going to play a huge role in that.

JD: It absolutely is. Our CEO [Vik Verma] has said it many times — we’re a channel-focused company, which is different than a lot of our competitors. But here’s the amazing thing, one of the key reasons I came here … We were named six years in a row the Magic Quadrant leader at Gartner [in part because] we own our own proprietary software. It’s ours. We have over 130 patents, best in class. We just released the X series, which is a full suite of collaboration, contact center and unified communications in the cloud; I think that’s the big differentiator for us. It keeps at the front of the class. We don’t borrow our technology from anybody; it’s ours. Our head of technology came over from Splunk. I feel like those guys in the lab just keep it moving. … The job that I have, somewhat, is the easier job, to get the word out. The technology is really at the core of what makes it all possible. The fact that we own ours and have developed it gives us a competitive advantage.

KM: CenturyLink’s presence in the channel grew dramatically with you there. Will your philosophy at 8×8 be the same as it concerns the Channel Partners Conference & Expo and Channel Partners Evolution in terms of being involved there and doing a lot of things in a lot of ways to connect with you and engage with you on site?

JD: Absolutely, we will. A couple of things. First, we won’t spend money and we don’t do things frivolously. We want to make sure we invest in the right kinds of things. But my philosophy has always been from a channel perspective, with all of my associates, all of the folks we work at the shows, keynotes we deliver, etc., is a novel concept: Just make it different and interesting. You’ve heard me say many times – starting out a lecture or a panel with – “If you’ve come here to learn something that’s going to change your life technically, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’ve come to …

… learn about some real-life stories and some really interesting things that impact our world from a technology perspective and the way we move forward, then you’re in the right place.” So we’ll continue to go big. We’re very appreciate of, and we think that Channel Partners as an organization has been an amazing place for all of us as vendors and partners … the shows are fantastic. I think at this last show you had something like 6,000 people come through; it’s crazy! So, yeah, we’re going to continue to show up big, we’ll continue to be out in front and continue to not only educate, but also make it interesting and entertaining for not only our partners but our customers. Let me add one thing to that: From a relationship perspective, it’s all about people. Regardless of the logo on your shirt, these relationships that we’ve made are for life.

CG: I wanted to point out that you were named one of our Channel Partners/Channel Futures Channel Influencers for 2018. Those are innovators impacting the direction of the new channel. I wanted to get your take on that and offer you some kudos for that.

JD: Thank you very much. We’ve had opportunities to participate in awards ceremonies, and all of them are very flattering. That one is very dear to me because not only was it just [nine Influencers, including Influencer of the Year, Gavriella Schuster], but they were voted on and carefully selected within the Channel Partners organization community, so that’s a big one for me. Again, it’s very humbling. I’d like to think that at the end of the day, when this is all over with, I’ve made a contribution to our business and our industry, one that has treated me so well.

To listen to our full conversation with John DeLozier, click here.

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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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