A bit like knights of yore preparing for a tournament, a range of channel players from all around the country will be mustering their best talent and kit to match against the opposition at Partner Connect. Every participant will send along the representatives and kit with the best chance of winning against a competitive backdrop -- displaying bright banners and signs, of course, to help put the company’s best foot forward and gain an advantage.
Signed up on the lists -- or stands, should we say -- already are a range of exhibitors, running the gamut from classic hardware giants to software and services as well as finance. The technology and solutions showcases will be supporting the extremely popular seminar programme, which this year will be held nearer the rest of the show.
Top vendors in attendance include Acer, IBM, Microsoft and Lenovo, all keen to discuss their products and what they can offer their reseller partners. Print vendor Brother will take a stand, as will its rivals Kyocera and Ricoh UK. Print management software vendor Printfleet will also be punting for business.
Charlotte Elmer, channel sales manager at Kyocera, said: “This is a momentous year for us -- we have lots to talk about. We will be highlighting our managed document solutions portfolio and discussing our service network. We have already doubled the number of highly trained engineers available to support our channel partners. Partner Connect is the ideal forum for us to speak to the people who matter.”
Rick Wallis, head of VAR and SI sales at Brother, said the event is a great opportunity to engage with potential new resellers. “We will be showcasing some of our latest mobile products that resellers can add to their mobility portfolio, ensuring they stay at the front of working trends. We will also be demonstrating our partner portal,” he said.
Storage and networking providers will not be left out, with Vtesse Networks, C4L, and Quantum displaying their latest wares, and monitoring and management vendors Op5, Paessler and N-able nearby to back them up.
Leading distributors Micro-P and Entatech will also be flagging up their wide range of goods and services, alongside smaller distributors such as security-focused Staffordshire firm Tekdata and Devon-based specialist Sigma Software Distribution. AVG and K7 Computing will both be carrying the flag for security vendors.
Siemens Financial Services and BNP Paribas will also each have a spot representing the crucial credit and finance piece of the puzzle for resellers and other third-party technology providers.
Staffordshire’s Discount-licensing.com will be on hand to explain its pre-owned Microsoft Select, Open and Enterprise licensing opportunities.
Channelling the challenges
Jeremy Davies, chief executive and co-founder of Context, will deliver a hard-hitting opening keynote that will frame the day’s intense discussion. There is still business to be done by channel players if they focus on strengths and concentrate on understanding customers better, notes Davies, whose weekly sales-out information from the world’s largest IT distribution database backs up his forecasts and analysis.
Janet Gibbons, director of partner strategy and programmes at Microsoft, will discuss the development of cloud, and how to use it to win, retain and expand customer relationships.
Big Blue’s vice president for business partners and the mid-market, Richard Potts, will look at the main financial challenges for cloud partners, offering real-life insights and examples from IBM’s business partner community, and give indications of current best practice.
Michael Keegan, executive director of the technology product group at Fujitsu, is giving an afternoon presentation in the main theatre on useful strategies for channel partners, as well as looking at the latest partner programmes.
There will also be tips on how best to enable the sales team - particularly when it comes to the difference between selling product and selling SaaS or other subscription-based cloud offerings.
More sessions may yet be confirmed. Last year, the education programme was enormously popular, with most sessions oversubscribed. This year will see the presentations take place within the exhibition space itself, freeing up room for more delegates and facilitating networking and stand viewing.
Partner Connect is one of very few pure networking events targeting the UK channel, including genuine opportunities to develop and investigate new business. Once more unto the breach, dear friends!
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