It is almost that time of year again, discovering presents of garish socks, lurid-looking ties and flimsy hankies from distant relatives, as you excitedly tear open the wrapping paper of that interesting-looking gift under the tree.
And for the successful channel exec – who must have everything that they could possibly dream of – what is their ultimate gift this year?
CRN questioned a selection of reseller, vendor and distie bosses to find out what they would pick if they could have anything they wanted in the world.
Now, we don’t know if this is just us, but some of the answers made us wonder whether they were being entirely honest! See if you can spot the ones we mean.
Alex Tatham (pictured left), managing director of distributor Westcoast said his dream Christmas present would be a year’s supply of Maom sweets.
A simple enough request, we thought. We hope the sweet fairy makes your dream come true, Alex.
Dan Sibille, vice president of worldwide channels at Lancope (pictured below), wanted something more tangible.
“I’m hoping to get an Apple iWatch – I’m a big fan of Apple’s technology and the watch seems like a great addition to my portfolio and will be very handy for quick updates and notifications when travelling,” he said. “I’d also like one of the latest personal activity trackers – maybe the My Basis or FitBit One. Keeping fit and staying healthy is very important to me so one of these devices would certainly help to keep me disciplined as I train for another prospective season of racing my Porsche at the weekends.”
One reseller boss, who shall remain nameless said to me: “There is nothing I could possibly ask for apart from a boat or a helicopter, but I could just buy that myself if I felt like it.”
Jo Pettifer, EMEA Channel Marketing Director at Riverbed was slightly more realistic in her answer (obviously fairies are real): “I’m wishing for a Christmas fairy to do all the shopping for gifts I’ve not started yet. If the fairy could wrap the gifts, buy the tree, and decorate the house, that would be even better! That’s not asking for too much, is it?”
Mark Pearce (pictured left), EMEA Channel Director at Dell Networking was also more down-to-earth: “One thing for sure is that I absolutely don’t have it all. I know it sounds corny but I don’t actually dream of receiving anything myself at Christmas, with three kids it’s difficult enough to find something new and interesting for them.
“However, after giving it some thought I would really like a new bike. Time to improve my fitness without putting pressure on the old knees, so a bike would be great. Also, I live at the top of a hill so what better way to start a ride than coasting along, although conversely the return home will be pretty tough but isn’t that the purpose of a bike ride?”
Tim Stone (pictured right), Director EMEA Distribution and SMB at McAfee wanted a gentle start to the big day.
“Christmas for me is a great chance to spend time with my wife and children, so will be spent with my extended family at home. It starts with me frantically wrapping last-minute presents and hoping that my two boys do not wake up too early on the big day,” he said.
“It’s then likely the same as most families in the UK, start off the cooking, a walk, big over indulgent meal, attempting some kind of game followed by a mass family slump in front of the telly and re runs of only fools and horses…”
Some even reverted back to childhood.
Jason Spring (pictured left), managing director of Partner Services at Daisy Wholesale said: “I get slightly excited at the thought of getting one of two presents. The first is a set of drums – one of the many things on my bucket list is to learn to play the drums. The second is a new bike, both things I realise are not too dissimilar to my dream gifts as a boy!”
And colleague Terry O’Brien (pictured right), managing director of Daisy Wholesale, will certainly not have a quiet Christmas if he gets his way: “My Dream present would be a Tesla S - coolest car on the planet and probably going to end up one of the biggest brands in the world over the next 10 years. However, if I can’t have that, and I don't think my wife will get it me, then I’d like a karaoke machine.
“Which means I will most likely spend most of Christmas singing!”
Remco Postma, Area vice president, SI & Channels EMEA for AppSense, said he wanted a “fool-proof solution to make a five-year old sleep all the way through the night.”
But walking off with the best comment of the year, was Softcat chief executive Martin Hellawell (pictured below).
“I’m scarred by Christmas,” he said. “My dad is a bit of an intellectual but a good dad. So when I got to the ripe old age of four he didn’t want to lie to me about there being a father Christmas when (apparently) there isn’t. But he also didn’t want me to forego the pleasure of seeing Santa.
"So he showed me a Santa fancy dress outfit, told me it was just an outfit and proceeded to put it on and play Santa. For the next four pissing years I was convinced my dad was Santa. When my friends told me Santa had been to their house, I told them that wasn’t possible as my dad was at home with me.”
However Hellawell’s dream Christmas present was quite a tall order: “My dream Christmas present would be a multi-story car park I can place next to our building in Marlow to resolve our lack of car park spaces problem, and keep all our employees happy..... They don’t seem to buy the 'just get in early' line!”
But silly presents aside, there were a few execs that just couldn’t get the channel out of their heads, even at this most festive of times.
Now at CRN, much as we love all things channel, we do wonder if these are genuine Christmas wishes, and how exactly they would feel on Christmas morning if they opened the only box with their name on it, which contained a note saying their wish had come true.
Mike Wilkinson, vice president of market offers at BroadSoft started out in the right way. “Some whisky would be nice!” he said. “But more widely for the industry, I want to see more businesses responding to the demands of millennials. They have incredible value to offer their employers and businesses are recognising this, but businesses are so often failing to attract and make proper use of this asset. Many businesses still sensationalise the notion of what millennial workers want from their place of employment, but the answer is quite simple.
“Millennials are constantly connected to each other, brands and employers, through smartphones, email, social networks, as well as many other tools. Businesses can take advantage of this change to deploy cloud-based services that connect enterprise communications (email, voice, IM&P, video and beyond). Through this we could begin to increase business productivity and unlock the potential of an age group that will soon make up over half our workforce. Businesses do not need an entire re-haul to attract the budding Gen Y work force – with Cloud they can bring on the best features and applications in stages.”
We could be wrong, but we think Phil Holmes, UK channel director at SafeNet is not quite telling the truth when it comes to his dream gift.
“I want a special calendar for purchasing teams which puts the 31st at the start of each quarter,” he said. “That way they’ll automatically place their business at the start of the month and banish quarter end stress!”
However, Holmes' answer was trounced by Kristian Kerr, Brocade’s EMEA channel lead.
“I reckon I spend about two to four hours a week in various queues whilst travelling: airline check-in, airport security, hotel check-in, immigration, waiting for taxis etc. (Don’t follow me as I always end up in the slowest queue!).
My dream present would be if Santa could develop an app for my iPhone that can direct me to the quickest queue so I can spend more time with partners developing and growing business,” he said.
But the prize for the most channel-centric Christmas wish goes to Andy Litherland, head of EU channel at Avaya.
“I’m a keen sailor. One of my lifetime ambitions is to sail around the UK therefore the equipment, funding and time out of my job to do that, as well as guaranteed weather conditions would certainly be a dream Christmas present.
“However, sailing is something I generally only get to do on weekends and holidays. Most of my days are filled with helping our channel partners grow. The mid-market is a key sector for us and a dream gift for me would be new midmarket, iConnect partners with fantastic cloud and video expertise.”
So Santa, you had better get to it and grant these people their wishes. Only a few more days left to go.
Merry Christmas everyone!
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