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Channel Focus 2023

Sheraton Hotel, Universal City, CA  

November 8th and 9th 2023


Day 1:  Wednesday, November 8, 2023 

Keynote Panel: AI, Ecosystems and The Rise and Rise of The Hyperscalers – Our Panel Addresses the Key Challenges and Opportunities Channel Leaders Will Face in 2024

The Channel Focus conference kicks off with a thought-provoking panel of inspiring leaders who will explain how to keep up with the key market forces changing our industry. From AI to ecosystems to hyperscalers, the channel continues to embrace new challenges and create opportunities. This breakfast session will set the tone for the conference and provide you with some of the key themes to learn more about over the next two days of the event.

Session 1: Presentation: AWS and Azure – How Do You Really Leverage Their Capabilities?

Hear from an industry leader on best practices in working with the largest cloud computing platforms from Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. How do you make these platforms work with scaling your channel program? Each provides channel support, marketplaces, development funds and many other programs. What are the ways we can leverage these cloud providers for growth while distinguishing your products and services?

Session 2: Panel: The Social media (r)evolution – Panelists share their successes and failures when leveraging the latest Social platforms

Driving marketing awareness and demand for your products in the channel has evolved with the use of social media. Social media sites can be an important source where your buyers assess their purchasing decisions, share reviews, and collaborate. The panel will share what are the key success factors in leveraging social marketing, how to avoid the mistakes, and create a movement to promoting your brand.

Session 3: Panel: Doing More with Less! Our Panelists Discuss the Steps They are Taking to Enable Them to do More with Less!

The business case for investments in the channel is under scrutiny as vendors look for ways to cut costs and be more efficient. Budgets, headcount, partner recruitment are all under threat. Now is a good time to find a way to be more efficient with your channel budget and create big impact too. In this session, a panel of industry leaders will explain how they are enabling their channel more efficiently, and still creating impact and results.

Session 4: Panel: What Does it Take to Build an Effective Co-sell Program?

Co-selling with your channel partners can be a win-win for all if structured in the right way. Designing the program with the right rewards, visibility, communication and training can help your team be successful. But does co-sell also offer some potential conflicts between the vendor and partner? Attend this session to hear how industry leaders create value with co-sell programs.

Session 5: Presentation: Tools and Technology... We Buy It, We Implement It! But How Can We Get the Channel to Better Use It?

Providing our channel partners with tools for going to market with your programs can be a great enabler to growth and loyalty. However, we know that partners may have many diverse technologies that vendors are providing which can be confusing and time consuming. So how do we provide the right tools, so our partners are successful and drive efficiency for our programs? Hear from an industry leader on how best to secure adoption of your tools and technology.

Session 6: Panel: It's so Much More Than Top-Line - How Do You Measure and Communicate to the ‘C’ Suite the Channel's Role in Driving Incremental Growth and Profitability?

We all believe in the power of the channel to accelerate our company’s growth and loyalty. But with the proliferation of many different ways of going to market it creates a more complex picture for the senior teams in allocating budget, resources, and focus. What are the metrics you can use to make your business case for the channel? How best can you communicate the value add that the channel provides with the C-suite?

SPECIAL LUNCH SESSION: AI - What are the Channel Challenges and Opportunities?

Artificial intelligence or AI presents a big opportunity for our society, business and partners. Leading companies like Microsoft and others are making big investments in AI to take these new technology innovations to market. This thought-provoking keynote promises to highlight what impacts it will have on the channel. Learn how to leverage these opportunities and overcome any challenges.

Session 7: Panel: Building a Business Portfolio and Practice to Leverage the MSP Market

Managed Service Providers can be an enabler to accelerate your channel. MSPs are close to their customers offering essential service and support. Understanding their needs can be a key success factor in making an impact with end users of your products and services. Your services can be managed by third party partners to help the customer achieve success with your platform or products. Find out how to tune your channel program for these types of partners.

Session 8: Partner Panel: Partner Enablement – 3 Partners with Very Different Business Models Discuss What They Really Need to Be Successful?

Our partners are innovating in many ways. They have a keen understanding on customer demand then leverage vendor channel programs to help them succeed. But partners are not limited to traditional channel models, and often innovate with new ways to drive growth and loyalty. Understanding and capturing new business models can help vendors to innovate too. How do you enable partners taking different paths to success?

Session 9: ClubNext Panel: The Next Generation of Channel Leaders, What Skillsets Will They Need?

Developing our next level of channel leaders is important to growth of our business. How do we recruit, mentor, and grow these new talents to make a big impact? This panel of industry leaders will discuss the skills necessary to develop talent in our organizations. Attend this session to learn development priorities that you can take back to the office and implement in encouraging the next level of talent in your organization.

Session 10: Presentation: No two partners are the same - Building and leveraging a deep understanding of your partner community.

Partners have diverse goals and needs. To develop loyalty in your channel it is important to understand these and help your partners drive growth. When you have hundreds or thousands of partners in the market, how do you cater your program to support them individually within a large scale of your channel? Understanding the needs of individual partners is very important and doing this on a mass scale is transformational. Attend this session to find out how.

Session 11: Panel: Our Panelists Share the Things They Have Done to Make Them Easier for Partners to do Business With.

Ease of doing business is a key success factor in driving loyalty and preference in your channel. Making your channel program easier to engage with and generate rewards is key. Partners have many choices today on who they want to do business with. In this session, a panel of industry leaders will share best practices on how they have made it easier for partners to work with their programs, and how that has transformed the growth and loyalty in the channel.

Session 12: Are Traditional Tiers and Deal Registration Still Relevant and if Not, What Will Replace Them?

For years, the channel model relied on certifications like gold, silver and bronze, and registering deals for preferential discounts. These programs provide incentives for our partners to promote our products and services and do so profitably for them. Have these frameworks run their course, or is there still value in using these tried and true ways in growing the channel? Learn how vendors are leveraging traditional tiers and deal registration today.

Evening Panel: The Future of Distribution – A Panel of Distributors Discuss the Best Practice in Leveraging Their Business Models.

Distribution has gone through dramatic changes over the years. These Distributors have constantly innovated to provide new business models and go-to-market opportunities. Understanding how they have evolved their business models is key to driving opportunities in your channel in this ever-changing market. But how do you get the most from their business models? What are the tips and tricks that really make your relationship with them really successful? What new offerings are they developing? In this session 3 leading Distributors with very different business models will share how they are evolving their business models and how vendors can most effectively partner with them today.

Day 2: Thursday, November 9th, 2023

Keynote: The Shift from Channel to Ecosystem - What is Required to Make the Change?

The traditional “channel” is a one-way flow of products and services from vendor to partners to end user each providing value along the way. On the other hand, an “ecosystem” is an interactive community working together to create exchange of value and grow the industry. The channel is changing to ecosystems so how do we capture the value from this shift? Join us for this inspired breakfast session to kick off day two with a thought-provoking keynote.

Session 13: It’s Much More Than SaaS - As a Service Models - How Do You Effectively Drive Those Through the Channel?

Software as a Service opens up new opportunities for vendors to go direct to their end user customers. The speed and ease of using cloud platforms can transform your market. But channel partners still have a role to play in helping customers be successful with SaaS platforms. In this session, you will learn how as a service models can be effective in the channel and provide rewards to your company, your partners and most importantly, your customers.

Session 14: Presentation: Keeping Score on CAM and Partner Productivity.

Our channel account managers are the frontline to ensuring our partners are successful with our programs. It is a complex job with many competing priorities. Keeping score on your CAMs and how they influence partner productivity is key to driving loyalty in the channel. We all need control and feedback to ensure our channel programs are successful. Hear from industry leaders on how best to assess, validate, and control the resources you are investing in the channel.

Session 15: Panel: The Agent Model: What Is It? How Does IT Work? And Could It Be Right for You?

This year Channel Focus offers a dedicated track on the rise of agents and how to include them in your go-to-market programs. Agents can scale your business and be very influential in the decision of your end user to choose your products or services. But they have different roles in the channel, are not a traditional reseller, so getting the structure right is key to success. This Agent Model track promises to provide thought provoking ideas on how to includes these important actors in your channel, how to reward them, and how to grow with their influence.

Session 16: Panel: Everybody Wants the Order and the Credit - the Latest Thinking on Fostering True Direct/Indirect Collaboration?

Direct models provide access to your customer and their buying preferences but also come with risk on order management and credit terms. Selling through channel distribution, or indirect, offers services and scale to overcome these risks. Finding the right balance between direct or indirect gives you options and trade-offs to consider carefully. Learn from a panel of industry experts on how they manage these priorities and succeed to grow channel loyalty.

Session 17: Panel: How Do You Balance and Reward the Importance of Sourced Opportunities Brought by Partners and Influenced Opportunities You Bring Partners Into?

We rely on the channel to grow and expand our market potential. Ideally, partners are creating new opportunities and bringing new logos. We rely on partners to be the customer face for our brand, products and services. So how do you reward partners when new leads are sourced from our teams, rather than new logos sourced by them? This panel will detail how to leverage both models together. Getting the reward structure right can accelerate growth in your channel.

Session 18: Presentation: The Secrets Revealed - How Do You Maximize Returns from a (TSD) Master Agent Relationship

The Master Agent or Technology Service Distributor can help vendors scale quickly and reach a large volume of agents and their customers. Getting the structure right with terms and conditions on these transactions is very important for a smooth channel experience. By understanding how the Master Agent works, you can ensure this channel provides rewards to your program. This session will provide techniques you can take back to the office and start working with agents.

LUNCH – Women’s Leadership Council Report

The Channel Focus Women’s Leadership Council is a professional group that shares best practices companies can take to enable more diversity to expand opportunities and reach the most senior roles in the channel. The Council will hold a special pre-conference event, then later during this special lunch session representatives will share how each of us can leverage the lessons learned to boost our businesses, innovation and profits in the channel.

Session 19: Presentation: Vendor M & A - Beyond the Deal - How Do you Bring Both Companies Teams, Partners, and Customers Together

There are many changes in our channel from partners acquiring each other, to vendors investing in partners. These changes can be opportunities for our employees, partners and customers, but also disruptive to our customers if handled poorly. Mergers and acquisitions are an important feature of our industry, so understanding how to handle these events is very important for your channel. Find out how to best prepare for these changes and gain value from transformation.

Session 20: Panel: MDF ROI – Our Panelists Discuss, How They are Tying $ Invested to Actual Results.

Market development funds has been a key component of most channel programs for many years. Co-investing budget with your partners to drive campaigns and coverage can drive growth. But how do you measure the impact of these funds? How do you assess whether MDF proposals will deliver results? Showing ROI from these investments will help you secure more budget. Attend this session to learn how to leverage your MDF funds and scale many times over.

Session 21: Panel: Recruiting and Enabling Agents – What do They Want?

Recruiting agents can be a great enabler in reaching new markets quickly. But are the needs of agents different than your more traditional channel partners? To enable your agents, it is important to understand what sales support they need, training and accreditations. Will the time invested in upskilling be worth the commercial rewards over time both for the vendor and the agents? This session will explore what agents really want to represent your business.

Session 22: Panel: Panelists Share the Key Steps They Have Taken to Build a Program to Effectively Work with Influencers.

There are many ways that buyers of our products and services assess their purchases. Many buyers will look to influencers in the channel, those who have thought leadership about which providers there are in the market, what to buy, and how to purchase. Including influencers in your program will put you in control over what people are saying about your offers and can be transformational in our socially connected channel today.

Session 23: Panel: How Do You Create Meaningful Automation Whilst Still Giving the Partners the Personal Attention They Need?

We are all looking to drive efficiency in our channel. New models enabled by AI and technologies help us to serve our partners in a whole new way. However, there can be a trade-off between automation and the personal touch partners are used to from your CAMs and others. Keeping a focus on balancing value and efficiency is important to grow the channel through this transition period to new technologies and methods with automation.

Session 24: Panel: The Future of the Agent Model

The agent model helps vendors to accelerate adoption of your technology, enter new markets, and get feedback from more customers. Investing time and resources to develop the agent channel will provide significant rewards and scale to your program. This track at Channel Focus is an excellent way to understand how to leverage the future of this growing model. Hear from industry leaders who will identify the key trends in the future of the agent model.

Benchmark Survey & Concluding Remarks: The Channel Focus Benchmark Survey - The Results - What Really Matters to Vendors and Partners?

During the conference, attendees will be asked to rate various industry features and best practices in a survey. At the culmination of the two-day event, these results will be presented in an insightful read-out on what your industry peers think about channel programs, techniques, and strategies. Be sure to stay to the end of the conference to hear these insights. This session will provide you with important takeaway strategies and key messages from the conference that helps you summarize the event and begin to enable new channel management strategies.