Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Power of Community Takes Another Big Step

I have been in Orlando the last few days at the Ingram Micro VTN event. Having been part of this organization for a long long time, I have seen lots of changes. Some good, some not so good, but the premise of VTN has been and continues to be community and putting members together in an environment that makes it possible for all to take their business to a higher level. There have been some detours along that path as competing interests and other distractions have caused an occasional trip down a path going no where fast. But the team at Ingram has done one thing well over time - listen to the partners. And while it would be good for some of that to happen before the decisions are made rather than course correction after, the good news is they do listen and respond. Kirk, Ryan, Bill, Holly, Laura and the rest of that team have made some significant strides in taking VTN to a new level. Fresh perspectives on the advisory council, fresh content at the events, a renewed emphasis on chapters, more focus on Service Leadership benchmarking and a host of other changes that have taken things to a new level.

The event this week just verified to me that VTN is on the right course for the future. While I was sick for a portion of the event, the focus was right on and the messaging crisp. If VAR's want to survive in today's economy, we better learn how to sell. I would go further and say the VAR of the future actually is a sales company. The current mix of sales, marketing, technical expertise and operations is going to change drastically in the next 10 years. The need for technical resources will be significantly diminished by the move to the cloud. Operational and backend functions will be outsourced. Marketing will be handed off to experts who drive appointments. Our major role as VAR's will be to serve as a quarterback for our clients - we will be in the people business - guiding clients to the right combination of resources to help them get their work done. We will deliver very little of it ourselves beyond playing the role of strategic relationship management. Like it or not, it is coming and coming quickly. The things we have valued the last 20 years - deep technical expertise and solution selling - will quickly give way to business analysis and intelligence. We will become consultants in the true sense of the word.

Many in the channel haven't gotten that vision quite yet. But the announcement of John Fago as the new Senior Director in charge of VTN and other Ingram communities has just cemented the future of those communities for me. I have had the privilege of working with John for over 10 years in multiple roles. I knew from day one that he was a winner. He never says no, it is always lets see what makes sense. He is not confined to the normal inside the box thinking. He lives outside the box and steps inside often enough to keep things grounded. But most importantly he knows when to embrace change and help lead people there. In a few words, Fago gets it. The few times I have disagreed on strategy or a discussion with John over the last 1o years, by the time we were able to talk through it and work on it together there was always agreement that led to a better result. I have a hard time getting to that with my bride of 30 plus years. I have always been a Fago fan. I always will be. But my hats are off to the Ingram executive team for putting John in this role. You have sealed success for VTN with a stamp that will go far to further differentiate your place in the channel. Thank you for continuing to invest in your partners through VTN and other communities. HTG and myself personally, look forward to kicking some ____ as we take partnering, community and channel health to a whole new level in the next few years. The teams are in place. The time is now. Let's make it happen!

No comments: