Thursday, October 27, 2016

100 Most Visible Channel Leaders - 2016

I have written in the past about Paul Revere and the applicability to the IT/Telecom Channel. It came from a chapter in Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point book. In the 'Law of the Few', Gladwell explains that a very select group of people are responsible for the "tipping" of almost all social epidemics. These people are special for their incredible abilities to communicate, teach, and persuade.

Check it out here.

Starting way back in 2009, when I moved to the U.S. from Canada, I began my fascination with how a huge global industry, with tens of millions of people across hundreds of thousands of companies, could be boiled down to about 100 influencers and superconnectors.

Back then, I collected all 16 channel magazines, attended dozens of tradeshows, studied associations, peer groups, bloggers and activity on social media and manually created a master spreadsheet. Every time I came across a keynote speaker, top industry list, writer, board member, trainer, community leader, or vendor/distributor executive, I would write their name, company and title down along with one check-mark. If I came across them again, another check-mark was given.

My hypothesis was that these connectors and influencers would be omnipresent in the industry - showing up at different shows, articles, press releases, top industry lists, communities, radio shows, and so on. A quick sort on check-marks would give me a visibility list - and what I thought was a solid influence list.

And I was mostly right.

Fast forward to today and I continue to keep track of numerous industry sources to keep the list updated. In fact, there are 36 sources that I regularly update including lists of channel leaders from leading global channel magazines, keynote speakers, various board and advisory council members, and others.

Disclaimer:  This is an objective view of the data - a scoring algorithm based on visibility across 36 different communities, importance factor, and timing recency. 

I do have another more subjective list that ranks people based on perceived influence, reach and leadership in the industry - but that is for another day.  :-)

A couple of interesting anecdotes:

1. The research tracks 2,855 people with multiple community touchpoints across 1,702 companies.
2. Social media activity is high among the top 100 - 65% of them are on Twitter, with just under half of those having 1,000+ followers. 99% of them are on Linkedin - here is looking at you Mike Cullen :-)

Anyway, here is a stack-ranked list of the top 100 IT/Telecom industry leaders by visibility:

1.  Rob Rae, Vice President of Business Development , Datto   Points: 57
2.  Janet Schijns, Vice President Global Channels, Verizon   Points: 50
3.  Dave Sobel, Senior Director of Partner Community, Solarwinds MSP   Points: 49
4.  Len DiCostanzo, SVP, Community and Business Development, Autotask   Points: 48
5.  Arnie Bellini, CEO, ConnectWise   Points: 48
6.  MJ Shoer, Chief Technology Officer, Internet & Telephone   Points: 44
7.  Vince Tinnirello, CEO, Anchor Network Solutions   Points: 41
8.  Craig Schlagbaum, VP, Indirect Channel Sales, Comcast   Points: 40
9.  Brooks McCorcle, President, Partner Solutions, AT&T   Points: 38
10.  Scott Barlow, VP, Global MSP, Sales & Marketing   Points: 37
11.  Ted Roller, Owner, GetChanneled   Points: 36
12.  Gary Pica, Owner, TruMethods   Points: 34
13.  Arlin Sorensen, CEO & Founder, HTG Peer Groups   Points: 34
14.  Renee Bergeron, Vice President, Cloud Computing, Ingram Micro Inc.   Points: 31
15.  Larry Walsh, CEO and Chief Analyst, The 2112 Group   Points: 30
16.  Jason Bystrak, Executive Director - The Americas, Ingram Micro   Points: 30
17.  Mary Ellen Grom, VP US Marketing, Synnex   Points: 29
18.  Dave Seibert, President, SMB TechFest   Points: 29
19.  Wendy Bahr, SVP Global Partner Organization, Cisco Systems   Points: 28
20.  Dina Moskowitz, CEO, SaaSMAX Corp.   Points: 28
21.  Shannon Mayer, Vice President of Channel Development, ASCII   Points: 28
22.  Neal Bradbury, Co-founder & VP of Channel Development, Intronis Inc.   Points: 28
23.  David Graffia, VP Sales, dinCloud   Points: 28
24.  Mike Cullen, VP of Sales, Solarwinds MSP   Points: 28
25.  Tiffani Bova, Global, Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce   Points: 27
26.  Stuart Crawford, CEO, Ulistic   Points: 27
27.  Karl Palachuk, Owner, Small Biz Thoughts   Points: 27
28.  Ted Hulsy, VP of Marketing, eFolder   Points: 27
29.  Ed Correia, CEO, Sagacent Technologies   Points: 27
30.  Stuart Selbst, President, Infratactix   Points: 26
31.  Nancy Hammervik, Senior Vice President Industry Relations, CompTIA   Points: 26
32.  Toni Clayton-Hine, VP, Global Marketing & Value Proposition, Xerox   Points: 26
33.  Darrin Swan, CEO, CloudRunner   Points: 25
34.  Cheryl Cook, Vice President, Global Channels & Alliances, Dell   Points: 24
35.  Meredith Caram, Executive Director - AT&T Partner Solutions, AT&T   Points: 24
36.  Jamison West, Founder & CEO, Arterian   Points: 24
37.  Carmen Sorice, SVP, Global Channel Sales and Programs, Sungard AS   Points: 24
38.  Shannon Sbar, VP Channels North America, APC by Schneider Electric   Points: 24
39.  Leslie Bois, Vice President Channel Sales-North America , Kaspersky Lab   Points: 24
40.  Michelle Accardi, Chief Operating Officer, Star2Star Communications   Points: 24
41.  Brooke Cunningham, AVP, Global Partner Programs & Operations, Splunk   Points: 23
42.  Jeannine Edwards, Sr Director, Platform Strategy, ConnectWise   Points: 23
43.  Luis Alvarez, President & CEO, Alvarez Technology Group   Points: 23
44.  Dan Wensley, President, Passportal   Points: 23
45.  Alessandra Brambilla, Vice President WW, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise   Points: 23
46.  Curtiz Gangi, Vice President, US Channels, Datacenter Segment, Eaton   Points: 23
47.  Frank Vitagliano, VP North American Partner Sales, Dell   Points: 23
48.  Bob Gault, EVP Worldwide Sales Services Channels, Extreme Networks   Points: 23
49.  Scott Dunsire, VP GM Americas Channels, Hewlett Packard Enterprise   Points: 23
50.  Todd Thibodeaux, CEO, CompTIA   Points: 22
51.  Bill Lipsin, VP Worldwide Channels, NetApp   Points: 22
52.  Amy Babinchak, Owner, ThirdTier   Points: 22
53.  Theresa Caragol, Founder & Consultant, Theresa Caragol Consulting   Points: 22
54.  Kevin Royalty, Managing Partner, Total Care Computer Consulting   Points: 22
55.  Susan Bradley, Partner, TSHB   Points: 22
56.  Justin Crotty, Senior Vice President Channel Sales and Marketing, NetEnrich   Points: 21
57.  Tracy Pound, Managing Director, Maximity Limited   Points: 21
58.  Carolyn April, Senior Director of Industry Research, CompTIA   Points: 21
59.  Barbara Spicek, VP Worldwide Channel Sales, Gigamon   Points: 21
60.  Colleen Kapase, VP Partner GTM, Incentives and Programs, VMWare   Points: 21
61.  Donna Grothjan, VP WW Channel Distribution, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise   Points: 21
62.  Kendra Krause, VP Channels, Sophos   Points: 21
63.  Cindy Bates, Vice President US SMB, Microsoft   Points: 20
64.  Kimberly Martin, VP, Worldwide Partner Strategy & Sales, Citrix Systems   Points: 20
65.  Erick Simpson, Co-Founder, Senior Vice President and CIO, SPC International   Points: 20
66.  Terry Hedden, CEO, Marketopia   Points: 20
67.  James Foxall, President, Tigerpaw Software   Points: 20
68.  Ron Culler, CTO, Secure Designs Inc.   Points: 20
69.  Carl Mazzanti, Founder and CEO, eMazzanti Technologies   Points: 20
70.  Colleen Browne, Director, NA Channel and Enterprise Sales, Viewsonic   Points: 20
71.  Linda Brotherton, General Manager, ConnectWise   Points: 20
72.  Alex Rogers, CEO, CharTec   Points: 20
73.  Mary Campbell, Vice President of Marketing, D&H Distributing   Points: 20
74.  Steven Banks, President, Banks Consulting Northwest Inc.   Points: 20
75.  Jeanne Hopkins, Senior Vice President & CMO, Continuum Managed Services   Points: 19
76.  Vincent Brissot, Head of Channel Marketing & Operations, HP   Points: 19
77.  Marie Rourke, Owner & President, WhiteFox Marketing and Communications   Points: 19
78.  Greg VanDeWalker, SVP and General Manager, GreatAmerica Leasing   Points: 19
79.  Paul Dippell, CEO, Service Leadership   Points: 19
80.  Julie Hens, Vice President, U.S./Canada Channels Distribution, Cisco Systems   Points: 19
81.  Craig West, SVP, Channel Sales, NetSuite   Points: 19
82.  Jim Lippie, Chief Advisor, Clarity Channel Advisors   Points: 19
83.  Nancy Reynolds, Vice President, Americas Channel Sales, LogRhythm   Points: 19
84.  Barry Williams, Executive Director, Indirect Channel Sales, Comcast   Points: 19
85.  Robin Robins, Owner, Technology Marketing Toolkit   Points: 18
86.  Phil Sorgen, Corporate VP - U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft   Points: 18
87.  Jed Ayres, CEO, IGEL Technology   Points: 18
88.  Jane Cage, Managing Principal, InsightFive22   Points: 18
89.  Peter Sandiford, CEO, Netsone Technologies   Points: 18
90.  Jan Spring, Vice President, Channel Development, eFolder   Points: 18
91.  Gavin Garbutt, Strategic Advisor, VIPSoftware Co.   Points: 18
92.  Jerry Koutavas, President, ASCII   Points: 18
93.  Harry Brelsford, Director of Business Development, LeadSCORZ   Points: 18
94.  Terry Wise, Vice President, WW Alliances, Channels and Ecosystem, Amazon   Points: 18
95.  Vince Bradley, CEO, WTG   Points: 18
96.  Tricia Atchison, Vice President, Global Partner Marketing, CA Technologies   Points: 17
97.  Amy Luby, Vice President Sales - US, Sinefa   Points: 17
98.  Zak Karsan, Co-Founder, SecureEDEN   Points: 17
99.  Dee Dee Acquista, Vice President, WW Channel Sales, Proofpoint   Points: 17
100.  Erin Malone, Vice President, NA Channel Sales, Sophos   Points: 17

Next time you are at an industry conference, make sure to say hi to these folks. 

Applying the law of Kevin Bacon, you will be one-degree of separation of millions of people by knowing these leaders. Also, follow them on Twitter and Linkedin - some of the best thought leadership you will find anywhere!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Michelle Ragusa-McBain Named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 4 Role Models Who Inspire Girls to Pursue Tech Careers!

Congratulations to my wife, Michelle Ragusa-McBain, who was just named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of 4 Role Models Who Inspire Girls to Pursue Tech Careers! 


Think back to the last time you were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now think about why you gave the answer you did.

When you’re young, you don’t know what you don’t know -- and you can’t aspire to be something you don’t know either. Our early career preferences are shaped by what we read about or watch, what we learn in school and most directly, what we see the people around us doing for a living.

Today, research suggests that the presence of role models isn’t just essential to defining students’ dream jobs, but to rectifying the IT industry’s gender disparity.

Dispelling tech career stereotypes

Only 23 percent of middle and high-school girls surveyed said they had considered pursuing IT careers, according to CompTIA’s recent research report, Make Tech Her Story: What Needs to Change to Inspire Girls’ Pursuit of Tech Careers. Of the girls surveyed who hadn't envisioned IT in their future, 69 percent didn't know what these jobs entailed or what opportunities were available.

Surprisingly, exposure to technology classes and fondness for video games aren’t the main differentiators between girls who contemplate IT careers and those who don’t -- it’s role models. Although 37 percent of girls in the survey who knew a relative or friend who worked in IT, this number jumped to 60 percent among girls considering technology jobs.

Many girls today narrowly associate IT jobs with working in consumer tech support roles, or spending hours alone in a cubicle, crunching numbers on a screen. But when girls have a friend or relative who works in the industry, their perception of IT starts to expand beyond the stereotypes.

Ongoing mentorship from a passionate IT professional -- someone who can explain why she loves what she does -- gives girls a lens through which they can view their own futures.

If we expect to fill the almost 600,000 new IT jobs projected to be created by 2024, we need to inspire a new class of equal parts boys and girls to follow these career paths. This requires giving girls information: details about what skills are needed to work in IT (beyond math and science), the jobs that exist (beyond coding) and the multiplicity of benefits these jobs offer (from competitive salaries to the ability to travel and help others). Role models are some of the most powerful vehicles for delivering this information.

There are no strict criteria for who can be a strong role model. From founders to public servants, many women work in IT today whose stories can empower girls to consider this growing field. Here are four women with diverse backgrounds who take time (during and outside of their day jobs) to make the IT industry more open and supportive:

Angie Chang

Over the last decade, Angie Chang has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for women in IT. Her resume includes her having co-founded Women 2.0, an online and events-based community for female business and technology entrepreneurs, and having launched the Bay Area-chapter of Geek Girl Dinners, a group bringing local women in tech together for networking and talks hosted by brands like Microsoft and Facebook.

Today, Chang is a vice president at Hackbright Academy, a software engineering school that aims to increase women’s representation in the IT industry.

Michelle Ragusa McBain

Michelle Ragusa McBain is an 11-year Cisco veteran and mother of four devoted to making the technology sector more inclusive. Today, she serves as Cisco’s global customer and partner experience manager, overseeing the company’s alliance with Ingram Micro.

Since 2014, Ragusa McBain has been the executive chair of CompTIA’s Advancing Women in IT community, a group providing women with the resources they need to pursue and grow their IT careers, and helping technology employers create cultures that support a more diverse workforce.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams began her career by earning a master’s degree in information systems and then building a background in systems integration. But a trip to a Spark & Hustle event opened her eyes to the world of entrepreneurship. In 2011, Williams founded Tech Biz Gurl, a technology consultancy that advises business owners on everything from launching WordPress sites to managing email marketing campaigns.

Aside from holding Cisco and CompTIA certifications, Williams is a co-facilitator for WiSTEM, a 16-week educational program dedicated to assisting female technology entrepreneurs with funding, community and IT resources.

Brenna Berman

As the commissioner and CIO of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology, Brenna Berman has set a new national standard for open, agile and data-driven local government. Role models played a crucial role in her career (which includes more than 10 years at IBM): her uncle was a pioneering computer science professor who introduced her to computers as early as kindergarten.

In addition to overseeing IT initiatives for the third largest city in America, Berman sits on the board of the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center, a nonprofit group that manages 1871, the city’s startup community hub.

In sum, for girls figuring about what to be when they grow up, information is power. Although parents and teachers play a major part in shaping girls’ preferences, role models are uniquely equipped to reshape girls’ perception of IT.

By sharing their stories and guidance, the women who represent today's small female fraction of the IT industry can make that industry more balanced tomorrow.

Entrepreneur Article written by TODD THIBODEAUX, President and Chief Executive Officer, CompTIA.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

THE RISE OF SHADOW CHANNELS - 5 New Competitive Threats for IT and Telecom Partners

I have written extensively this year about the changes happening in the traditional IT and telecom channels. Here are some of the major industry trends that have accelerated these changes:

  • 30% decline in the number of traditional channel partners since recession of 2008
  • 40% of partner owner/principals plan to retire in the next 8 years
  • 75% of technical professional services will be delivered by millennials at that time
  • 72% of all customer technology decisions led by Lines of Business (growing to 90%)

We know that millennials are not joining leadership/ownership roles within traditional channel companies in sufficient numbers. Business models based on managed services, client/server management, hardware sales, and break-fix do not seem to be enticing the next generation.

Channel margins have been challenged for over a decade, with eroding hardware, software and services resell opportunities. Further, increased competition and more efficient tools and processes has commoditized the delivery of IT and telecom. There is also a degree of consumerization that threatens traditional cash cows with the rise of Apple, Google and the like.

Millennials are joining the broader technology industry and other industries that are radically transforming themselves into tech companies. Read the annual reports of the Fortune 500 and you would think that they are all technology companies.

The changes in how companies make technology decisions, led by the lines of business, used to be called “shadow IT” or “rogue IT”, but today is the new normal. This change in the customer buying journey has been heavily influenced and accelerated by several “shadow channels”.

Who are these shadow channels?

The shadow channel is a broad and diverse group of companies from all backgrounds who engage, influence, recommend and even resell technology to lines of business. It is useful to break them into categories:
  1. SaaS ecosystem consultants and integration partners
  2. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)
  3. Industry-based professional services firms
  4.  “Born in the Cloud” IT and telecom firms
  5.  Start-ups looking to disrupt traditional industries

Let’s take a closer look…

1.  SaaS ecosystem consultants and integration partners

The growth of the software-as-a-service industry since early in 2000 has been staggering. Major, multi-billion dollar revenue streams are still growing north of 30% - 15 years later.

We are now seeing clear winners in each of the line of business categories. For example, 10 years ago there were over 300 CRM solutions competing in a very fragmented market. Salesforce has now secured almost 1/5 of all CRM opportunity and competes in a more narrow, established market between on-premises and cloud offerings.

Other winners include companies like Marketo, Netsuite, Workday and many others. All of these winners have built impressive ecosystems around their products where all boats are rising – and quickly. For example, Salesforce has over 1,000 partners globally that drive over $20B in revenue. That is estimated to be $4.14 for every $1 a customer spends on the CRM license (according to IDC). Similar numbers are seen across all LOB ecosystems.

This is primarily consulting and integration revenue. The Salesforce ISV and customized developer partnerships drive billions of more dollars of value. In fact, Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, outlined a $290B ecosystem opportunity value over the next 5 years for those that want to compete.

According to Goldman Sachs research, the SaaS economy drives $106B in revenue this year, growing by 30% CAGR for the foreseeable future. With the opportunity of $5 for every SaaS dollar, we are looking at a half-trillion dollar opportunity that hasn’t yet been realized. I personally don’t believe the number is that high, but anything multiplied by $106B is significant.

2.  Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)

Keeping on the Salesforce example, the ISV ecosystem is called AppExchange and it has 3,000 apps, generating 4 million downloads, $20B in ISV revenue (including a sizable chunk that Salesforce takes off the top in a revenue share). An impressive 75% of their customers use Apps in addition to the core software.

There are several unicorns (companies worth over $1B in market value) that are completely reliant on these SaaS ecosystems. Adding tools, workflow, customized and specialized industry solutions, and other value adds is a very lucrative environment for entrepreneurs. The investment community of venture capitalists are also eager to back companies in these ecosystems with hundreds of dedicated funds.

The shadow competition comes in the form of free services. In the rush to grab share, many ISVs (and the investment community behind them) measure recurring revenue on the software and tend to give away or look negatively upon one-time, project based services.

3.  Industry-based professional services firms

Every company is being forced to become a technology company. Whether it is a car company with Tesla sneaking up, transportation company with Uber, hospitality company with AirBNB, or any other of the 27 industries, technological disruption is threatening traditional companies with extinction.

This means that every ancillary service or consulting company supporting these industries is being forced into technology as well.

CompTIA did an excellent piece of research in late 2015 focused on the professional services vertical. Looking specifically at accounting, legal and marketing firms they drew a couple of important conclusions:
  1. These verticals are huge, rivaling the size of the IT and Telecom Channel in terms of number of firms. The best estimate for IT firms in North America is 160,000 while legal has 190,000, accounting has 133,160 and marketing has 105,180.
  2. More than just size, these companies are rapidly converging into the broader IT and Telecom space. For example, 51% of accounting firms resell software today, with 33% more considering it. The numbers are similar for offering IT compliance, consulting, advisory and assessments.

By the year 2020, more than 80% of accounting and marketing firms will be indistinguishable from traditional IT channel partners. Legal is slightly lower at 55%, but still heading the same direction.

Now think about every company, in every industry becoming a competitor for these technology dollars that lines of business are increasingly spending. This casts a huge shadow and is very tough to compete with.

4.  “Born in the Cloud” IT and telecom firms

Much has been written about born in the cloud – and most of it turned out to be wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many successful companies that have been started in the cloud era, with business models purpose-built for this environment, and finding success as brokers, integrators and building trust within lines of business. I spoke at an Ingram Cloud event earlier in the year with 1,300 of these eager folks in attendance.

The great influx of millennial, born-in-the-cloud VARs and MSPs hasn’t materialized as predicted however. The technology industry is struggling to stay in the top 10 of most desired industries for college grads.

Technology is so intertwined with business today that younger people look to themselves as sales, marketing, HR, operations or finance leaders and that technology is an obvious and ubiquitous part of their job role.

With all that said, born in the cloud is still a formidable shadow channel as the skill level is high, business model optimized and energy level high.

5.  Start-ups looking to disrupt traditional industries

It is difficult to measure startups, as many countries don’t keep track. The best estimate from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor is there are about 613 million people trying to start about 396 million businesses. About one third will be launched, so you can assume 133 million new firm births per year, with just shy of 2 million of those being technology startups.

Forbes reported 50,000 companies get Angel funding in the US, with 4,000 of those moving on to secure venture capital funding per year.

These are big numbers – but safe to say that innovation and entrepreneurship is as hot as ever. Each of these companies have a new idea or, what they think, is a better way to do things.

The shadow channel effect is that traditional service-based opportunities could be automated, replaced or deemed redundant in the future. The traditional channel is not immune to the reported 47% of jobs that could be replaced by artificial intelligence, machines and robotics in the near future.


It is hard to predict the impact of each of these shadow channels against the future technology opportunity. We do know that competition for traditional partners is shifting from the business across the street to a myriad of influencers on end customers.

The good news is that the pie is also growing. The technology industry is expected to grow by 5.1% this year and is looking positive for years to come. The skills and resources to take advantage of this pie look much different than they did even 3 years ago.

The shadow channel is currently the wild west - the equivalent of where the traditional channel was maturity-wise in the early 1990’s. They are putting customer businesses at risk everyday by playing fast and loose with customer data, financial and even HR data. Proprietary information is flying everywhere across public clouds by smaller startups with little control or regard for the ramifications (or regulations).

The traditional channel has an opportunity to play a crucial role. Through strategic partnerships of their own, mergers, acquisitions, hiring/adopting the right skills, as well as business model changes, they can ensure that maturity is injected back into the system. Things like business continuity, security and compliance are critical requirements of  the LOBs – and very few in the shadow channels can execute at this point.