I was pleased to host THINKstrategies’ third annual Cloud Channel Summit at the Computer History Museum where the day-long discussion centered on how to enable a vibrant channel ecosystem to flourish in the rapidly evolving Cloud marketplace. Many of the participants in the peer-to-peer, executive networking forum agreed that creating targeted education programs is a pivotal component of a successful Cloud channel strategy. But, they also recognized that the fundamental nature of the Cloud demands new tools and techniques to deliver truly effective channel education programs.
I founded the Cloud Channel Summit three years ago because traditional channel companies were afraid that they would be ‘disintermediated’ by the direct service delivery model associated with the leading Cloud computing solutions, and Cloud vendors were trying to determine where to employ channel partners to extend their reach in the market. The first Cloud Channel Summit provided a forum where industry executives could discuss these issues in a candid fashion and share their experiences with their peers. The success of the first Cloud Channel Summit resulted in the event being produced on an annual basis to give the participants an opportunity to trade best practices and measure their progress against their peers.
From the very first keynote presentation by Tim FitzGerald, the vice president of the DataCenter & Cloud Technology Solutions Practices at Avnet Technology Solutions for the Americas, to the final panel session at this year’s Summit, the theme of channel enablement continuously returned to the importance of building more effective channel education programs. These programs are more important than ever because the ‘Cloud’ is one of the most confusing ideas ever conceived in the technology industry, and fulfilling the promise of the Cloud is fraught with many challenges.
So, developing a curriculum of training sessions that clearly define the meaning of Cloud solutions, the value of these services, how to sell and deliver the services, and ensure the success of Cloud services is essential. And, delivering the training in a cost-effective manner to an increasingly dispersed sales team is equally important because Cloud services pose an especially acute financial challenge for channel companies as a consequence of the subscription revenue recognition model and thinner operating margins associated with Cloud solutions.
Relying on traditional on-site, classroom training programs to educate channel partners is becoming less and less feasible in today’s Cloud environment. Instead, THINKstrategies believes leveraging an on-demand video platform that is self-provisionable, highly elastic, and easy to audit to ensure optimal utilization is a better path to success for channel training. This type of educational tool, can be deployed more quickly and accelerate the learning process which in turn enables channel companies to reduce their costs and time to market.