The basic definition of an “opinion” is “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge”. As such, you should always digest opinions and its source with a “pinch of salt”, before you follow them.

One would hope that the pundits give their honest opinions based on good research data and not be biased towards their “backers”. In our society there are many examples of “cherry-picking” data to make a specific point. Spin-doctors are experts at making just about any data fit their opinions. Since everyone has an opinion, it is not so easy to know which matters to you.

The biggest problem with opinions is to validate the actual outcomes.

Here is good example of how we converted opinions into real actions to validate the outcome… We combined many opinions that we felt made sense to build a comprehensive peer-group program to help channel partners to future-proof their business. It’s called 300 Elite Mastermind. We built this program based on 3 years of researching expert opinions, getting feedback and testing before we went live. We officially launched it in April and it actually turned out better than we expected (don’t take our word for it – see what others said in the videos on eChannelNEWS). It’s no longer an opinion. Now, we can say that we are very confident that it’s a game-changer for helping partners to be successful. That said, before you believe it, validate it for yourself by experiencing it live at any of our ChannelNEXT conferences.

Here are 6 of my other opinions based on what we are currently seeing in the channel. Consider them as you boldly go to where the channel has never gone before…

  1. The evolution in the channel is accelerating. There are many factors driving this, but one big factor is a significant potion of the channel is definitely aging and trending towards retiring. Based on all the data that I have seen and what I actually see in our channel community, it seems like about 1/3 fits into this bucket. Just have a look at the amount of “gray-hared” people in the audience at IT conferences. This is actually great news for the remaining 2/3 of the channel as someone will have to pick up this slack. Most “near retirement” partners are also reluctant to invest their remaining resources to implement new technologies to best serve the customers. A clear competitive advantage for the remaining 2/3! However, these “retiring” partners are not getting enough money if they sell their business so they may need to keep working longer – which means that this 1/3 may not be going away as fast as you might think! There are clear opportunities for both buckets of partners. I also think that many of these 1/3 love technology too much to sit on the sidelines.
  2. Battle of the end-users is where the war will be won or lost. The turmoil in the channel has embolden a significant amount of Cloud/SaaS vendors to challenge the ownership of partners for the end-customers. Some of these vendors see channel partners as a short-term customer acquisition cost. Be cautious how you play with these vendors. Remember, if they are not investing in you, then why invest in them. A wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing is going to end badly for you.
  3. Business relationships between people will matter more, not less. With few exceptions, business is still a people-to-people game. Build as much human touch points as possible. Are you sure that calling and meeting people face-to-face is dead? Think you can do everything electronically? People actually buy from people that they like. And, while AI will catch up some day (probably sooner rather than later), I believe that humans will ultimately crave more human touch. I for one, do not want an AI robot to sell me stuff. I certainly do not want an AI friend. AI has its place in the future, but as you trust AI with more things, be aware of why and who is exploiting your data in the back room. Of course “they” will all say it is to make “your” life so much easier. Some may even honestly say it is to sell you more relevant stuff. However, we are already seeing monster examples of how personal data gathering and security breeches are running amuck.
  4. Conferences are important places to learn about your future. As the virtual interactions explode, I believe that conferences will be the most important workplaces of the future (especially those with more peer-to-peer collaborations around best business practices). It is impossible to not learn something of value when you are in a room with a group of like-minded peers. If you are not learning or giving, then you may be the problem. Remember that giving is just as important as taking. We actually just rebuilt our ChannelNEXT conferences to facilitate more peer-group collaboration because we believe this type of group learning and exchanging ideas, fuels growth and more happiness for all.
  5. Definition of the new channel partners are in flux. As the DNA from multiple types of companies developing and selling technology solutions collide, new breeds of channel players are emerging. Things that mattered to the traditional partners are oblivious to this next generation as they build out their own playbook and rules. I must say that we are spending a lot of time digesting this and it is still too early for us to determine the outcome, but believe it is going to be more revolutionary than evolutionary. It does seem like more channel partners are developing their own IP and behaving more like “vendors”. The level of inter-partner collaboration seems to be exploding.
  6. Future-proof your team to ensure you remain relevant in the future. You can automate all you want, but without your team, you go nowhere. The people that work for you are arguably your most important asset. Do not forget to treat your team well. Listen to them. Skill them up. Believe in them. Support them. Motivate them. Build your army. Conquer the World. Always have fun along the way!