Transitioning to new business models. Embracing new partner types. Attracting a new generation of workers.

If you are a sales or partner executive working in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry for a vendor, carrier or solution provider organization, these are undoubtedly top priorities for you. But getting actionable data and insights to make important decisions on these imperatives isn’t easy. If only there were a single resource that offered unbiased, field-tested and cutting-edge support to help you achieve your business objectives. Farcical, right?

Think again.

Penton Technology is proud to introduce the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank, a vendor-neutral and technology-agnostic group of industry leaders who have joined together to collaborate on industry priorities that matter most to you. This includes developing thought leadership, research and best practices around key priorities such as new business models, training and certification, vendor relations and branding, just to name a few.

The inaugural participants in the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank belong to some of the industry’s top technology and services providers including Comcast, Lenovo, Brocade, VMware and more. They will soon be joined by others. The Penton Technology Channel Think Tank also includes technology consultants, industry researchers and other thought leaders who recognize the need to advance the industry’s collective wisdom on partnering and go-to-market business models.

“The technology channel has shifted more in the last three years than in the previous 20. More than ever, practitioners like me need innovators, entrepreneurs and channel chiefs to share insights, identify best practices and promote new ideas for the betterment of all,” says Michael Mack, president and COO of World Synergy Enterprises of Beachwood, Ohio. A solution provider with more than two decades worth of experience, Mack is an inaugural Penton Technology Channel Think Tank Solution Provider Member.

Vendor and carrier Penton Technology Channel Think Tank include the following:

  • Craig Schlagbaum, Vice President Indirect Channels, Comcast
  • Sal Patalano, Chief Revenue Officer, Lenovo Software
  • Andrew Pryfogle, Senior Vice President, Cloud Transformation, Intelisys/ScanSource
  • Sandra Glaser Cheek, Vice President, Global Channel Sales & Marketing, Brocade/Ruckus
  • Dawn (Evans) Lindsey, Vice President, Partner Marketing and Programs, Bigcommerce
  • Greg Dixon, CTO & Technology Evangelist, ScanSource

“It’s rare when both business models and technological innovation change so rapidly and at the same time,” says Schlagbaum, Comcast’s channel chief. “But it is unmistakably happening now. When you layer on growing customer expectations, competitive pressures and corporate obligations, you realize that the industry needs better thinking to overcome its current challenges. I believe the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will be a source for that thought leadership.”

Craig Schlagbaum, Comcast

Overseeing the administration of the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will be myself; Theresa Caragol, principal at TCC Consulting; and Kelly Danzinger, business development director at Penton Technology.

“Penton is pleased to work with such accomplished thought leaders and offer them a multi-faceted, digital-and-virtual platform for promoting, disseminating and advancing their thought leadership, research and advocacy,” says Danzinger. “We plan on leveraging the full breath of Penton’s more than 170 media properties, events and other forums, as well as those of our new corporate partner, Informa, to advance the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank agenda.”

Kelly Danzinger, Penton

For 2017, the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will for its energies on these three priorities:

  • Transitioning to new business models
  • Embracing new partner types
  • Attracting a new generation of workers

To help channel companies transition to new business models, the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will identify best practices and practical advice to help organizations transition from one-time product sales transactions to more sustainable ongoing, recurring revenue-based engagements with customers. The latter are more in tune to how customers want to buy ICT assets and services today.

In addition, the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will work to identify, study and embrace the partners of the future who concentrate their energies around next-generation software ecosystems managed by Salesforce, AWS, Google, SAP and others. To date, these partners have not fully participated in the traditional channel. But as markets evolve, they will likely merge with the traditional channel in some fashion. In anticipation of this shift, the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will examine ways to develop programs, policies and processes that will make this transition easier for all.

Finally, there’s the growing need to prepare a new generation of entrepreneurs and workers for successful careers in technology integration and development. This is especially important considering that an estimated 40 percent of the existing channel workforce is expected to retire or otherwise leave the industry in the next 10 years. As a result, the industry will need a younger generation of people to fill the void departing workers leave behind. How to attract, prepare and mentor members of the Millennial Generation for careers in the ICT channel will be a key focus of the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank in 2017.

Looking ahead, there will be additional objectives that the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will pursue, including the identification or formation of a new professional distinction for ICT services providers. As of today, none of the traditional go-to-market monikers accurately or fully describes what ICT consultants, VARs, cloud services providers, MSPs and more actually do, which is provide digital services to end customers.

In 2017, the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank will also look at ways to promote the stature of professional digital services providers.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Penton Technology Channel Think Tank, reach out to me. In the meantime, stay tuned for more.