Channel Influencers

It is that time of year when the media starts making lists. 90% of the list this year is the same as last year. Due to M&A and musical chairs, they had to replace a few people.

The list is really the people we like or the people who give us a big check or the people we are prospecting for that big check. Big names or big companies doesn’t really mean the person is an influencer. In today’s environment teenagers have bigger influence on social media than many executives in the IT/telecom space. Do any of these influencers have a blog or strong social presence?

How I see it. Certainly if Comcast, AT&T, Verizon or Spectrum closed their channel it would cause a ripple. If these giants stopped sponsoring and paying MDF, it would cause a ripple. Dell, Microsoft and even Cisco fit this bill, too. Does that mean they should have a permanent place on the list? No.

However, actual influence in 2019 went to Windstream since they affected dozens of partners (not for the better) with their sweeping contract changes.

Real influence is at Thoma Bravo that owns Connectwise and Continuum (as well as HTG/IT Nation) and so much more in the MSP realm. Datto/Autotask is the equivalent of a cableco in the MSP space, since any MSP lives and dies by its PSA and RMM platforms.

Apollo Management will influence the channel as they are acquiring Tech Data. It is anyone’s guess what happens there.

One list had Intelisys, which doesn’t really exist as a brand any more as it is parcel of ScanSource, which doesn’t influence much of the channel at one-tenth the size of TD. Jenne probably has as much sway as ScanSource.

Any master agency – TBI, Microcorp, COLOTRAQ, et al – has sway over anyone it sends a check. And over vendors. So picking the best known is like voting LeBron the MVP. There are others who play better, but don’t get his attention.

In addition, there isn’t just one channel. The channel consists of lost of differing business models – agents, masters, distributors, VARs, MSPs, ISVs, inter-connects, consultants, referrals and affiliates. The telcos influence agents far more than they do MSPs. Datto, Tigerpaw and Thoma Bravo have a lot of sway over MSPs – and none over agents.

Gary Pica and the rest of the “big names” in the MSP space have zero influence outside that realm – indeed outside the folks that recognize the name (brand).

Microsoft has a bigger sway over any part of the channel – CSP, MSP, VAR – than any keynote speaker.

By the way, if you chose any analyst or keynote speaker as an influencer, you should really wipe your nose. Most have been recycling the same death knell content for years — and have been hilariously wrong. By giving them yet another chance to spout this dribble, the media company just shows how pay-to-play or out of touch it is.

I noticed that IBM and Linux (SUSE and others) were on a list. IBM would influence a sub-section of the channel. Linux as well. If you are looking at that subset, why not the HIPAA compliance market?

Was Fortinet or FireEye on the list? Cyber-security keeps showing up in the trends list. How about KnowBe4? Or TPX, one of the few former CLECs with its own SOC.

I don’t know what criteria is used to make these lists. I get bothered seeing them. Like on what authority do you get to make that list? You may talk to 50 channel execs, but if I talk to 50 surgeons can I do your surgery next week? Or can I pick your surgeon?

Most of the influence in the channel is with the people using the Tom Peters principle of MBWA – Management By Walking Around. Rob Rae at Datto gets around, has really good data and is articulate. Michelle Kadlacek of Spectrum is another.

Really a lot of the influence is on the street with channel managers more than with any channel head. Unless than channel head changed a policy to ease some friction that led to a growth in sales, why from year to year are they on the list? Because of the job title? Maybe you should read a book on Leadership.

Anyway, that’s enough of a rant. See you in Vegas. Then in Scottsdale!

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