No doubt by now you've seen our announcement promoting our "Homecoming" channel event this coming November. It created a buzz online as channel partners and vendors alike pondered the possibility of getting together in person again. Imagine that!
But we at Channel Partners/Channel Futures aren't sitting around waiting for fall. The 2021 Channel Partners event train is already chugging down the track. Don't overlook the fact that we have some of the best speakers in the business lined up for the spring Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Building upon the success of our virtual event last fall, this show, too, will be available from the comfort of your home office.
Now that there's light at the end of the tunnel post-COVID-19, we want to help your business persevere, overcome and progress. Our theme for the show is "Accelerating Evolution." You no doubt have had to focus on evolving your business more than ever the past nine months. The pandemic has tested us all — and no one more than the small business owner.
The virtual version of the channel's largest event is March 2-4. It will feature technology and business-based conference tracks to help you either recover from or build on the success of 2020. Is this the year that 5G truly blossoms in the channel? That, plus the coming-of-age IoT opportunity, will headline our emerging technology track. Our business of the channel track will include sessions on building a successful business plan, social selling, and how partners can work better with vendors for each other's benefit.
Debates & Keynotes
I'm personally most excited about the return of our "debate" series. Last fall we had industry insiders debate the progress of convergence in the channel. The topic got some of them pretty fired up. And others tackled the future of distribution in their panel session. This time, we're tackling another burgeoning hot topic: "Are Marketplaces an Opportunity or Risk for the Channel?" We've lined up Forrester analyst Jay McBain to moderate a panel featuring Pax8 chief channel officer Ryan Walsh and some partners. They will discuss the shift to the marketplace model and how beneficial – or threatening – this is to your business.
That debate will kick off Channel Partners Virtual with a bang on Tuesday (March 2), only preceded by one of the best-known speakers in the industry. Janet Schijns, CEO of consultancy JS Group and former channel leader at Verizon, will help our partner audience understand what it takes to be a successful partner firm in 2021. Schijns, our 2019 Channel Influencer of the Year, says she will help you "face down challenges and take control of your growth."
Our focus on diversity and inclusion in the channel will continue, as we pursue a lofty goal. We want minority representation among our speakers to be 30% — a goal we achieved last fall. Furthermore, we'll feature a session on creating a diversity and inclusion program in five easy steps. Our Allies of the Channel Council, which we formed last year, will be front and center.
Of course, as with any of our channel events, there will be an expo hall. It'll be virtual, but you can still explore what more than 50 information and communication technology vendors have to offer. Form new relationships that will help you sell more in the new year. We'll also take the opportunity to honor winners of our prestigious awards programs. Among those: the Excellence in Digital Services awards and our NextGen 101. Both laud partners who have evolved their businesses by expanding the services they offer and providing true value to customers.
That's just a taste of what's on the Channel Partners Virtual menu, as we continue to build out our agenda.
Yes, we're all looking forward to a huge celebration at Homecoming in November. But the content at Channel Partners Virtual doesn't take a backseat to any live event. Registration is open now — we look forward to seeing you there!