3500 Lacey Road, Suite 100
Downers Grove, IL 60515
The partners who arrived at Arrow Electronics’ New York workshop late last summer may have had, like channel partners worldwide, some trepidation about cloud. As clients continue to hear about the convenience and CAPEX-reducing capacity of cloud-based solutions, they’re asking their partners about it more. But it’s not always immediately obvious, for those accustomed to traditional data center hardware, how to approach this new way of selling and managing infrastructure. Richard Riddle, channel manager at Arrow, was at the workshop facilitating his partners’ day of cloud-centric education, and was pleased to see partners build not just their knowledge base, but their sense of camaraderie around cloud.
“When you read the billboards and you listen to the radio you assume that so many other people are farther along than you are, but that’s not really the case,” Riddle said. “It was a great event that let people come together as a group and see that they’re all together on this journey.”
The New York event was one of numerous workshops that Arrow held in 2016 throughout the U.S. The award-winning workshop series is the brainchild of Kirk Bohn, cloud services enablement leader at Arrow. Each event brought together representatives of Oracle and CompTIA to guide partners on the journey Riddle described – addressing their concerns and helping them understand how to profit with annuity-based revenue models.
With top hardware vendors like Oracle rolling out cloud solutions, partners need to know how to sell them. Bohn is proud to provide the innovative, experiential guidance it takes to make sure they succeed.
“That’s the role of a value-added distributor,” Bohn said. “We’re not just pushing boxes or pushing products; we’re helping with marketing, we’re helping build our partners bases up with the collaboration and the education around cloud.”
Built on CompTIA
When Bohn first began putting together the workshops, he knew that to drive home the portions touting Oracle’s offerings, he would need a trusted resource for vendor-neutral information. CompTIA fit the bill, providing top-tier tech and industry education without a sales pitch attached.
“What I was looking for was standardization as far as cloud training,” Bohn said. “[CompTIA] has a cloud executive foundational training module; a four or five course module that’s already baked. I built the program around that.”
The initiative launched, and Bohn was on-hand at the Denver workshop to see the players he’d brought together give attendees an executive summary of the $20 billion opportunity that is the cloud.
The day began with a CompTIA-facilitated run-through of the ins-and-outs of the cloud and the different pieces that go into the infrastructure model. After lunch, they got a speech from Oracle reps about how their cloud offerings could be sold and deployed to meet client needs.
Then things got creative. Faced with the fact that some partners might want to keep elements of their operations close to the vest, Bohn set up a speed dating-style portion of the event. Each attendee had a 20-minute one-on-one session with representatives of Oracle, then CompTIA, to get their specific cloud questions answered.
The event finished out with a happy hour. With their cloud confidence built, partners saw which of their offerings they could leverage, and preliminarily shook hands on some of those all-important cross-partner collaborations that make the channel a singular source of value creation.
2017: More Cloud Questions, More Cloud Answers
As 2017 gets going, partners are only going to receive more questions from their clients about the cloud. Those selling Oracle hardware will have the chance to benefit from Arrow’s guidance – and CompTIA’s vendor-neutral cloud education – at one of the workshop events Bohn has in the works.
Not only is he anticipating seven to 10 workshops throughout the U.S. in Q1 and Q2, he’s hoping to expand the program to the UK soon after.
And the partners that attend will hold a valuable lesson: For all the changes the cloud is bringing to infrastructure, they know more than they thought they did.
“I think a lot of people have made it out to be mysterious and hard to fathom,” Bohn said. “But once they look at it and go, ‘OK this makes sense, I’ve got the right things I need to figure out the compensation issues, the invoicing issues, the education piece;’ it’s really no different.”
“The main thing that I get back out of this is, ‘Wow, cloud’s really not that complicated.’ ... I see it as a huge confidence builder,” Bohn said.
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago who covers information technology, retail and various other topics and industries.