If this is the Evolution of the channel, we are in trouble. It was anorexic. Many noticeable booths were missing including C-Link, RC, 8×8 and Jive. It was not the UCaaS Fest that it normally is.
This show floor wasn’t screaming SD-WAN – despite being collocated with SDxE: The Software-Defined Enterprise Expo.
One noted addition was the Cyxtera booth. Cyxtera is a mash-up of data center and cyber-security in a re-vamp of the Windstream data centers with the old NAP CEO.
The channel is facing 3 problems: (1) age; (2) too many shows; and (3) vendor consolidation.
I have written about the aging channel before. Partners – as well as vendor employees – are getting older. Where’s the young blood?
With every master agency holding numerous shows (especially in Sept./Oct.), many vendors had to scale back (to just meeting space). There aren’t enough marketing funds to go around to numerous expos and events. It will be an interesting balancing act. Both ITEXPO and INCOMPAS have dropped one show to do just one per year. CP may want to consider it. Philly in October next year isn’t enticing.
Shoretel became Mitel. XO+VZ. WIND+Broadview. So much consolidation that there are fewer vendors (and fewer jobs).
Where’s the Substance?
One person remarked that the education sessions are just sales pitches. Well, the whole expo looks like the set of ESPN SportsCenter with banners, sponsors, ads everywhere. I’m shocked the bathrooms weren’t sponsored by someone.
Microcorp’s One on One allowed for more peer interaction and actual learning especially from other partners. Interaction with the vendors at a master agent show is better as in more personal and more informative than at the Expo.
An agent told me he had more party invites than meetings. I believe it.
Beer Pong seemed like it belonged in college or at a tailgate, but not at a trade conference. I think there should be less partying and more educating. If I want to drop a grand to party, I can do that with friends and family.
The vendors NEED partners to be more educated, to sell more than low cost bandwidth or cheap dial-tone. Partners need to sell multi-vendor solutions in order to increase both stickiness, usefulness and commissions. These shows are supposed to be not just the nexus of the channel but the opportunity to educate, raise the skill level, train/share/learn.