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The key takeaways from the 2nd Annual CRN European Channel Leadership Forum


The 2nd Annual CRN European Channel Leadership Forum (#ECLF) took place at the Mondrian Hotel, London, on 5th/6th September.  Most CEOs and MDs of the UKs largest Channel Partners came together to learn, network, and think about the future.

There were several excellent presentations that provided the delegates with market insights, Leadership best-practice, and Sales & Marketing thought-leadership.  

There are too many to mention, but the Presenters included: Tom Wright (Content Director, Incisive Media); Emma de Sousa (Senior Vice President UK & Marketing EMEA, Insight); Andy Gass (Senior Vice President UK and Ireland & Digital Europe, Tech Data); Steinar Sonsteby (CEO, Atea) and many more. 

Complementing the presentations, were several panel discussions involving among others, James Hardy (Deputy Managing Director, CCS Media); Martin Hellawell (Chairman, Softcat); and Helen Slinger (Director, BT Product Supply Business).

In addition to the presentations from Channel Leaders, a number of end-users were also invited to give their view on what it’s like to be an end-user, the most recognised being Justin King, the ex CEO of Sainsbury’s, who gave an excellent summary of how he managed to transform the fortunes of Sainsbury’s.

The key takeaways from the event were:

  • The Market
    • Every company in every vertical needs to be a technology company
    • By 2020 every business will become a digital predator or digital prey (Forrester)
    • 70% of IT spend is allocated to Keeping the lights on, while 30% to innovation (Gartner)
    • >50% of IT spend is unbudgeted, so if Channel Partners are more effective at demonstrating their solutions offer tangible business value there is a good chance they will be signed off
    • The future is hybrid.  While Cloud sales are increasing, so too are on-premises server sales
    • By 2020 58% of IT Professionals are likely to invest in Managed Services
    • IT teams are no longer seen as a cost-centre but as a business partner so Channel Partners need to ensure they are able to demonstrate business value when presenting solutions
    • The IT Channel is thriving!
    • No one has a clue what will happen post-Brexit
  • Leadership
    • Due to the pace of change, Leadership teams need to be agile and need to a) Be hyper-aware of the trends in the market; b) Be able to use data to make more informed decisions; c) Be able to execute decisions fast
    • As the pace Channel Partners need to move is increasing, they are going to make mistakes - which is to be expected and applauded
    • The three main challenges facing Leadership teams are: 1) How to overcome the skills gap; 2) How to differentiate; and 3) How to improve client engagements
    • Channel Leaders should work more strategically with their distribution partners as they can be a rich source of data and insights
    • Channel Leaders need to develop effective strategies to help them better: a) Find opportunities, b) Land the opportunities, c) Adopt/On-board the solution, d) Expand the footprint, e) Renew the engagement
  • Sales & Marketing
    • Channel Partners need to get better at analysing their data sets to develop data-led sales & marketing motions. Data-led decision making needs to improve
    • The number of Channel Partners collaborating with other Channel Partners to enhance horizontal and vertical sales and marketing propositions is increasing and will soon be the norm
    • Client engagements need to be more personalised
    • On average, Channel Partner Marketers target 8.5 personas in each end-Client.  50% of the personas are in IT
    • Sales & Marketing messages need to be more vertically-relevant
    • 28% of inbound leads come from the publication and promotion of high quality gated content
    • 33% of Channel Partners are more likely to use a Marketing Agency this year
    • Channel Partners need to get better at automating parts of the sales & marketing process
    • By focusing exclusively on IT Teams, Channel Partners are leaving money on the table
    • Sales people need to make more of an effort to do basic research before cold-calling.  Research => Relevance => Credibility => Trust
  • Training
    • By 2020 there will be 500,000 unfilled IT jobs in Europe
    • The only sustainable way to bridge the technical and sales skills gaps is to hire early career people and train them well
    • Taking more notice of achieved grades at school and further education can help create a picture of the individuals propensity to learn
    • As the role IT teams play continues to be more business-focused, sales and marketing teams need to be better trained to ensure they stay relevant

If you’d like to discuss the content of the ECLF in more detail, please contact us.


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