Nobody expects a hurricane to hit during an event, so organizers were forced to shift from outdoor to indoor activities. Add in the possibility of a blackout, and who knows what would actually occur. The show continued…

AcronisIngram Micro, and ConnectWise held channel events in Florida last week. I went to Acronis and Ingram Micro One to do some press interviews (see them when coming up on eChannelNEWS).

Although some people were probably unable to get flights into Florida, these events were very well attended. I know we couldn’t get a flight out of Orlando.

My biggest takeaway was seeing Ingram Micro’s CEO Paul Bay embrace the future of distribution with a platform-centric business model to help all channel partners, Ingram Micro employees, and suppliers better streamline operations and collaborate.

Because not everyone can attend in person, it’s great to see speakers participate via video and holograms from remote locations. Many conferences now appear to use live streaming and on-demand recording. However, it is not as effective in reaching a wider audience without the use of news media.

Acronis was an extremely well-organized event. I had the opportunity to speak with Gaidar Magdanurov, President of Acronis (watch for my interview with him on echannelNEWS), about a variety of topics. I also spoke with Ezequiel Steiner, and it appears that Acronis’ marketing and solutions are on the same page. Congratulations, Acronis team, as usually the two sides are not on the same page!

The food here was really good (foodies (like me) appreciate that). The content was excellent. Judge Louis Freeh (a former federal judge, US attorney, and FBI director) used humour to emphasize some of the key points in cyber. The celebrity keynote speaker was Magic Johnson. Although I saw the value in his business advice, it was primarily for those interested in taking celebrity pics.

One of the keynote speakers at the Ingram Micro One event, Jeremy Gutsche, discussed why it is difficult for humans to change, which I found much more interesting for the channel. (Sorry Jeremy for giving you the wrong directions to the hotel lobby – I was confused).

Kate Swamborg also spoke about how Dreamworks uses technology to make animation movies faster and how much energy can be saved with the right computer equipment (Lenovo). A great example how to make a point with end-customers!

What was really cool about Acronis was their connection with many sports teams, which began with F1. Their channel partners can now leverage these relationships to engage in some interesting marketing activities with their customers. It’s definitely worth looking into!

I had the opportunity to hear Acronis executives Patrick PulvermuellerCandid WüestOleg MelnikovKatya Ivanova respond to questions. I asked if we were winning the cyberwar, but there was no clear answer, just smiles and laughter, and we’ll see.

It’s telling when the best experts don’t confirm or deny whether or not the hackers are winning the war. To be fair, no one can completely protect anyone, so the game is all about balancing the risks for your company and yourself. What you should do will ultimately be determined by how much risk you are willing to take.

Acronis is making significant contributions to cybersecurity and the channel. They are certainly worthy of your investigation and consideration.

The Ingram Micro One event could be a foreshadowing of things to come for distributors. Traditional distributors have faced numerous challenges. Will they actually pivot to the right side of the new normal and turn that headwind into a tail win?

Well, I believe Ingram Micro may have accomplished this with the introduction of the XVantage platform. Yes, they are transitioning to a platform-led business, and they are doing so at breakneck speed.

Let me also emphasize that traditional distribution is NOT extinct. Everyone will require devices, so distributors will exist as long as physical goods are in demand. Cloud-distributors have been chipping away at traditional SaaS distributors, but CloudBlue and their extensive suite of services can easily push back the competition.

The biggest challenge for distributors like Ingram Micro, in my opinion, is that they have grown so large and diverse that most people have no idea what they actually offer. Listen to my interviews with their financial team, Kelly Carter and Ada de Michele, for example, to learn how they can help finance partner growth from monthly recurring revenue, reducing the need for funding or acquisition. Take a look at what they’re doing with T-Mobile and 5G to help the channel get a piece of this growth pie. Get to know the people at Ingram Micro, and you might be surprised at how much more they can do for your company.

Back to their most important announcement, Xvantage! A platform to help their partners do business with Ingram Micro more easily and smartly, including product and service procurement. Check out my interviews with Sanjib SahooBill BrandelAnthony Karim, and Bill Steed. The new platform makes perfect sense. So funny that one of the attendees approached me and said, “Julian, doesn’t this look a lot like the e-commerce platform you built with Ingram 15 years ago?” It does, but this is a platform of the future. Much has changed in today’s SaaS and MRR economy, and so have the requirements. More importantly, the ability to use IM’s massive data lake to assist partners in identifying new opportunities can be a game changer. Something that HP is doing with their partners. Consider the mountain of data that IM has amassed over the years about the channel and its buyers’ behaviors! The big question is whether they will properly use this business intelligence data to support the right channel partners.

It’s still a work in progress, and nothing survives without adoption, but it’s looking good so far!

It was also interesting to see the 5G collaboration with T-Mobile and Ingram Micro. Check out my interview with John Tonthat of IM and Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages Technology Solutions. Companies like our friends at Cradlepoint will significantly aid the channel’s entry into the 5G sector!

The Ingram Micro One event was fantastic in general. Exactly what a distributor-centric event with channel partners should look like. A great mix of hardware and software solutions, with major players such as CiscoLenovoIBMIntel CorporationMicrosoft, and T-Mobile For Business exhibiting.

With only a few meetings scheduled around IT Nation event due to the hurricane, it appeared to be an outstanding event for MSPs. I did not get the full experience, but perhaps next year. I had hoped to attend the Block Party hosted by Alec Stanners Tanners and George Bardissi. It looked amazing, but I decided not to brave the storm and instead attended the Ingram Micro party. I’m glad I did because I had a great time. I was all in because there was karaoke, drinking, food, music, and dancing! After that, we went to a cool bar on the property to party until the wee hours of the morning. We felt as if we were in a glass dome paradise with a raging hurricane outside. What a wonderful opportunity to catch up with so many friends and meet more awesome people! Thank you for your generosity, especially Mark Scott (President of Fully Managed by TELUS Business) for your insights and the drinks.

There is so much to do and so little time. Normally, I don’t attend many events outside of ChannelNEXTReseller Choice Awards, and now IOTSSA CyberSecurity, but in 2023, I’ll be doing a lot more, especially as we take eChannelNEWS on the road. Subscribe to receive notifications!

Finally, and most importantly, conferences still have a long way to go in terms of environmental sustainability. Badges can be much more recyclable. Swag can be easily reduced (how much of this gets dumped in hotel rooms). It was refreshing to see water dispensers rather than bottles. And far too much food is still thrown away. There is much more that venues and event organizers can do to reduce their environmental impact. It was great to talk about the subject with my friend Jeffrey Jansen of PC Corp. (watch for more chats that we will be doing on the topic). Channel partners can also play an important role by showing up if they register. Show organizers are aware that some attendees will not attend, but they must still pre-order food. No-shows waste food, energy, and money.

What were your thoughts if you went to these events? Please contact me if you believe I should make your event a pitstop in 2023