ChannelCON returned to Chicago in person. It was an excellent opportunity for channel professionals to meet and network. It felt that live events were once again in full swing. Except for a few hotel employees wearing masks, you’d never guess there was a pandemic.

Having said that, a large number of people still prefer to consume content via livestream or watch videos online. As members of the news media, we witness this on a daily basis. Actually, whether they attend in-person events or not, most MSPs get the majority of their news from channel-centric news media. Most MSPs I spoke with said they would be reducing the number of in-person events they attend and would prioritize those closer to their homes. Thank you for stopping by the eChannelNEWS booth to share your ideas and conduct interviews. Thank you for subscribing and following!

It was a typical ChannelCON, but cybersecurity vendors dominated the landscape. More on that later… But first, I’d like to comment on Scott Galloway’s keynote, “Overhyped or Underhyped.”

Scott Galoway

I was actually looking forward to hearing him speak. I have been a fan of his work (mostly through YouTube, books and his interviews). I appreciate his no-nonsense approach. He appears to be someone who has his finger on the pulse of the market and can see through the BS fog.

While nothing he said was groundbreaking, he did provide some useful insights on a variety of topics (most of which can be found in his podcasts and videos).

Here is where the wheels came off for me…

He seemed proud to say that he had canceled his $50,000 per year health-insurance policy and saved nearly a quarter million dollars over the previous five years. He claimed that paying the insurance premiums was a waste of money because he could afford the “big” one. All of this may be true, but the vast majority of Americans do not have the financial means to pay for the big one (many cannot pay for the little one). I felt it was borderline arrogant and not even sure what this has to do with the ChannelCON Message. Is he saying everyone should dump their health insurance? What about cybersecurity insurance? 

He mentioned how companies like Amazon are planning to disrupt the medical field. We have all seen “telemedicine” rapidly expanding since the pandemic. Hopefully this trend will help doctors to provide healthcare services at a lower cost (and faster), to a greater number of people. Apple and others are also improving their health monitoring devices so it’s not difficult to see how Apple could also get into the virtual medical services.

Managed medical care as a service could probably help detect or prevent more diseases earlier – a true game changer! At the show, I spoke with Markee, which already has a compliant video platform for doctors. Reach out to them to find out why that matters. I think this can be a huge opportunity for channel partners.

Scott Galloway also remarked that putting overweight people on the cover of magazines like VOGUE promotes unhealthiness. He also proclaimed that he is a “sexist”? Is he implying that VOGUE should feature models who starve themselves on the cover of their fashion magazine instead? Not sure how the attending women felt about this statement.

I was uncomfortably numb at this point, but that was just me.

His negative remarks about the metaverse (and crypto currencies) are understandable, but there are a lot of people who are already “living” in a metaverse (mostly gamers). Consider the massive size of the current esports market. I was hoping he would go deeper into the new digital-first buyers and its impact on business.

I also found the remark that using an Android phone somehow makes you “less” than those who use an iPhone to be cringe-worthy since the vast majority of attendees are not Apple partners. I have been using an iPhone since it was invented but I do not think less of Android users. Actually, I’m annoyed that my iPhone is so much more expensive than Android phones! The debate is open for which smartphone users are the smartest.

Having said that, I still believe he is a rockstar human being who keeps his finger on the pulse of the market and speaks the truth without reservation. There was more to Scott Galloway’s speech so you can decide if he was overhyped or underhyped.

In more news, CompTIA is doing well and even growing despite the pandemic. They made 130 million dollars in revenue and are pursuing additional government and industry funds to help train and certify more people in technology. They were in the process of acquiring a company that would allow them to provide students with actual degree certification…looks like they are upping their game!

More organizations have a clear need to train more people to work in the tech industry. With millions of IT jobs currently unfilled, it appears that whatever is happening today is simply insufficient. Check out my interview with a company that specializes in cybersecurity training called Infosec.

Almost every industry is looking to hire more people, so it appears that automation, higher pay, better benefits, working from anywhere, and greater work-life balance are the best options. You can find a number of articles and video interviews I conducted on the subject on eChannelNEWS.

Check out my interviews with some vendors I found interesting at ChannelCON: SuperOps, Dave Sobel, Augmentt, MSP Toolshed, Linode, Green Cloud Defense, Infosec, Credivera, SaaSMax, Addigy, Markee, NetEnrich, PCs for People, Pax8 and Egnyte [While you are there, why not subscribe to eChannelNEWS to get the latest information on more vendors and solutions – cost is zero].

PLUG: ATTENTION CYBERSECURITY PEOPLE: If you are a channel-focused cybersecurity vendor, MSP, MSSP, or SOC looking for a community to call home, visit They are creating an extreme business building experience for the cybersecurity community that is always on 365 days a year. It provides curated cybersecurity solutions, powerful business tools, events, and other valuable resources to assist channel partners in overcoming this complex challenge. Everything will be made public on October 26-27, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, at the in-person IoTSSA event. It’s worth checking out by anyone involved in the business of cybersecurity.

The most eye-opening thing I saw was a digital identification solution provided by Credivera, which can digitize all of your identification documents such as your driver’s license, passport, health card, and so on. They are stored and used in the same way that boarding passes are in your Apple wallet. Eventually, you’ll probably have all of your identity documents on a digital wallet (just don’t lose your smartphone)! I believe this is a glimpse into the future, but I hope it’s true that each person will have secure and complete control over their digital documents and more importantly, be able to revoke its access from any organization. The use cases of this technology goes way beyond what I just described.

CompTIA did an excellent job organizing the ChannelCON event. We notice these things as event organizers ourselves… If I may offer some constructive advice, reduce the quantity of food while increasing the quality.The gnocchis (small Italian dumplings made of potato, semolina, or flour, usually served with a sauce) were rock hard. It’s also upsetting to see how much food was “wasted.” I also believe that in the age of the pandemic, some foods, such as serving nuts in an open container, are no longer prudent (I saw 2 people just grab nuts with their hands). Even in normal times, this is not cool! Not to mention the overall waste, which violates all sustainability guidelines. Hotels must step up and deliver better sustainability practices because event organizers have very little control.

Everything else was great. The party location on the peer’s rooftop was fantastic. My event director told me, “Rooftop is where we want to host our ChannelNEXT event party.” She’s already on the lookout for more rooftop venues!

Finally, to end on a lighter note, here are my personal thoughts on event SWAG. On the one hand, I believe it is a complete waste of money and detrimental to the environment, as I see so much dumped. On the other hand, I think it’s a clever marketing strategy for attracting people to your booth and starting a conversation. The key is to design clever SWAG that is consistent with your brand…

Here are my top 10 SWAG picks at ChannelCON:

#10. Anunta’s clip-on hand sanitizer was practical.

#9. The reusable water bottle, wood pens, and shades from Connectwise looked environmentally friendly.

#8. GreenCloud had a large JENGA game to win cash, bottle openers, and speakers, among other SWAG. This was cool because they sort of gamified the SWAG (I saw a few other companies do this).

#7. Lenovo and Cisco’s “keep it chilled” holders are always useful. Can you ever get enough of these?

#6. Gradient’s flamingos were flocking everywhere. Will they eventually run out of “flocking” things to say?

#5: The IoTSSA funky camera blocker was adorable and really appropriate for cybersecurity – I now have one on my computer and I think it’s looking at me!

IOTSSA Camera Blocker

#4: Datto, Acronis, and PC Matic provided a really wide range of SWAG – felt like a shopping experience. Who will be the first to set up a booth that looks like a SWAG store where you can browse and pick from 50 different items?

#3: Sophos had some cool socks and other accessories. Don’t know why I always take socks. I think flip flops or spa slippers can also be good SWAG for attendees to wear in their rooms/pools.

#2: Solutions Granted “Warning” T-Shirts drew my attention to the booth. Something about the word WARNING. If your SWAG gets the attention of visitors – you win!

Solutions Granted Booth

#1: My top pick is Linode (a cloud computing platform for developers) who had small bags of goodies from a local Chicago company. It was well displayed and looked valuable. Because so much SWAG is the same, good local snacks are always a wise choice – also a great way to support local businesses. The key is to do it like you care and people will notice. Plus, I always gravitate to food. Congrats Linode! Your T-Shirt and prize give-away was also cool.

Linode Booth

What was your favorite vendor, session and SWAG you saw?