In the first of our sponsored 'Meet the Channel Awards Shortlisters' series, CRN catches up with channel service provider GLU-CX's CEO and co-founder Billy Haining (pictured), to discuss the awards, how they have coped with the past few months, and how the industry is shaping up after one of the toughest years on record
Give us a flavour of your channel strategy - how long have you worked with the channel, how is your programme structured, how many partners do you work with etc
Glu has been operating in the Channel for coming up to three years and our strategy is predicated on completely removing any risk for channel partners to invest in partner enablement, customer experience or cyber transformation.
We have specifically built a team of ex-CISO's, CIO's and IT directors in order to make channel partners who engage with us become more relevant to their customers by having a more consultative approach that spans across multiple lines of business.
Currently Glu is actively engaged with over 50 partners in the channel and in addition to the direct engagements that we have, we are also extremely proud to run Tech Data's highly successful Customer Success as a Service Programme.
I think what sets us apart is our willingness to enter into risk reward models with Partners we engage with so that when they win, we win, and it is a true partnership approach.
Our role is to simplify the areas we operate in so partners can secure larger projects, drive annuity in new areas they weren't confident in before and ultimately truly deliver the outcomes that their customers desire and we are the "Glu" that brings this all together.
What is the biggest benefit you have seen from working with channel partners?
The biggest benefit for us is the reciprocal business that we are able to generate with them.
We see a lot of Partners with fantastic relationships with their customers but often they are re-active and they just need a little assistance with unlocking new conversations in order to increase their current relevance.
How have you supported your partners during the pandemic? Has it made you change your strategy in any way? If so, how?
Like many other companies, Covid-19 has made us change our strategy, and for us it has driven us to bring forward the release date for our Horizon Managed Service Platform.
Horizon has been developed in-house and provides partners with end to end CX and cyber support and we are extremely proud of it and what it does for the partners who use it.
In regards to supporting partners, a lot of what we do can be delivered remotely, so we have continued to drive and win opportunities for partners and continued to deliver consultancy for partners during the pandemic.
When our partners needed us the most, we were able to win projects with them and for them in addition to supporting them during this challenging period.
What has been your company's biggest challenge during 2020 and how did you overcome it? What role did your own teams play in that?
Our biggest challenge has been making sure the team have stayed mentally and physically safe and well. It's really important to us.
Pre-COVID we used to see each other all of the time and it's tough not seeing them and for us not to participate in lots of social events as a team.
We initiated a weekly call on a Friday where we aren't allowed to discuss anything work related and we try to do something fun every week from pub quizzes with local nurses to virtual escape rooms and monthly step target challenges.
The team have appreciated this and in return we now all know each other a lot better and we have had a lot of laughs during these sessions.
What lessons have you learned from this year?
The main lesson for me is to try and keep your home office as far away from the fridge as possible!
In all seriousness, I think the main lesson for us have been that the relationships that we have with the partners we work with are unbelievably key and if you are operating a channel-based service model then we absolutely need them as much as they need us.
What has been the highlight of 2020 for your business?
There are a lot of highlights to choose from.
Achieving Business Enablement Partner status with Cisco was great, we have also achieved exponential growth, Horizon was launched, and we have also continued to re-invest money each quarter back into the channel and being shortlisted for a CRN award are all huge.
For me though, the creation of our Flex Source offering for channel partners to be able to pick and choose CX and cyber resource for their customers as and when they need it tailored to their specific requirements has been a real highlight for us and our partners.
What does it mean to you to be recognised for the shortlist/an award?
Being shortlisted as a finalist for the CRN 2020 Channel Services Provider of the Year means a lot to me and to the Glu team.
We gain phenomenal feedback from the partners we engage with and it is very humbling and makes me feel very proud that the team are getting the recognition they deserve.
The CRN awards are the best awards in our industry and even to be shortlisted is a fantastic honour.
How do you think the industry will change as a result of Covid-19 and how do you plan to thrive/grow?
Obviously remote working will become more vital as it has done already as a result of Covid-19 so for us to continue to grow our engagements will become more automated and delivered as a service.
This will also allow us to replicate, extend and grow our current European, US and global engagements. We believe that we are in a fantastic position to continue to grow and empower the partners who engage with us to do the same.