The Channel Focus 18 conference, celebrating its 21st anniversary, pulled together over 70 technology vendors channel chiefs and over 20 sponsors who provide software solutions to help them manage their channels.
There were over 20 detailed presentations, covering virtually all aspects of the channel, from the basics such as Building a Channel, too much more advanced subjects like dealing with Amazon and Azure. In addition, there were 48 workshops where channel experts could get together in small groups and share best practices on everything from helping partners with renewals, to how to best manage your MDF (Market Development Fund) programs.
One thing was clear at Channel Focus 18: vendors are in a constant struggle to deliver the best programs to their partners in the most efficient way, while trying to focus on driving results.
The entire Channel Focus 18 conference is guided by the Chatham House Rule. Never heard of it, well to quote off Wikipedia:
“When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”
This provided an extremely open environment where both Channel Chiefs and the many sponsors were very open in both their presentations and in the working groups. No one held back, and it led to some interesting discussions and debates. Clearly, people are much more comfortable speaking their mind when they know what they say can’t be attributed to them.
By the end of the conference, one thing was clear. Managing a successful channel is a difficult endeavor. And most vendors are looking for the tools to help them automate the process, and the best practices to ensure that their channel programs drive optimal results.
I think the best quote I heard came from a channel chief from a multi-billion dollar vendor with a large channel when I asked them what they thought of the event, who, because of the Chatham House Rule, shall remain nameless.
“It seems that no matter how much I know, and how well I think we are doing with our channel, there is always much more to learn, and better ways of doing things.”
And that is why we all got together in Scottsdale. We look forward to seeing everyone next year.