Channel Partners

SPR 2016

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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"We understand the need to be seen as relevant in the eyes of customers who may not know anything about us otherwise," Murray says. Thus, he does invest in certain certs, as does Peterson: "This year four of my team are working on getting their ITIL-V3, VMware-VCP-DCV, AWS Certified Solution Architect and two separate CompTIA certs," she says. Also look at your posted list of vendor and technology partners from a potential hire's point of view. Does your site say, "We're a cool and innovative place to work"? "We have contracts with over 350 providers." Murray says. "It gives candidates plenty of technology to embrace and learn." HOW IMPORTANT IS FACE TIME? Perhaps the ultimate perk is not having to commute to an office. There are two distinct schools of thought here: Do you go for the best talent no matter where it resides, or do you feel in-person collaboration is too important? "We believe heavily in everyone being in the office at all times," says Lydecker. "We believe that because, with as fast as the market is moving, with as fast as the industry is demanding change because of disruption, we have to be fast ourselves." He says that having engineers, coders, salespeople, pricing analysts and other staff together in the same physical space gives rise to new ideas and makes collaborating on projects much smoother. "The pace is so quick that if you're home, if you're on the road too much, you're really missing what's taking place beneath you." If you're going to be a "come to work" company, you need to make the workspace someplace employees, including Millennial employees, want to spend many hours a week. Lydecker says Avant's Chicago-based office is modeled on Web 2.0 companies, with Google-like amenities. It's preparing to open a new, cutting-edge facility in April, also in Chicago, and has sites in London and Atlanta. Lydecker says Avant's people stay late, play together and learn from one another, and that vibe is attracting a surfeit of talent, which he is able to put to work for partners. CarrierSales and TelePacific, mean- while, aren't set on a location-required requisition. "We want the best talent possible, and that may be someone working on the other side of the country from our headquarters," says Murray. "We are willing to pay for performance, support sponsoring work visas when it is a good business decision, and embrace remote employees so that we are not locked out from the best talent due to geography," says Gadda. As to culture, Millennials hate boxes, so don't discount letting people move between tech, sales and operations. It may seem counterintuitive to send an expensive data center engineer on a sales call, but experts say the benefits of selective cross- pollination can be significant. 5 PRO TIPS: HIRING 1 DON'T DAWDLE OR GO ON A UNICORN HUNT. Robert Half says it sees companies accelerating the hiring process to avoid losing top candidates. Before you begin interviewing, ensure your HR team understands the IT talent market. Be realistic about the skills and years of experience you can get and where you can make concessions and train later. One channel exec we spoke with defined a "perfect engineer" as having quality knowledge of both network and systems architecture, and an understanding of the Microsoft world as well as switching and routing. Nice if you can find it, but prioritize. And, bring technical leads into the process early. Gadda says TelePacific's collaborative talent acquisition group and teamwork across business functions yields great hiring decisions. 2 DON'T GET HUNG UP ON PAPER. Do es every employee really need a four-year degree? "There are Agents Can Hire Their Way Around Roadblocks Firms with traditional telecom backgrounds face some unique staffing challenges — while it was relatively easy to start selling Microsoft Office 356 subscriptions, we're moving from cloud low-hanging fruit to systems of record and starting to see cloud economics work against simple sales. Customers now want cost comparisons among multiple cloud providers, an ability to run cloud TCO against existing data center costs, even tipping-point analysis. "Customers who were initially very cloud- forward and have amassed very large monthly recurring charges — $100,000 plus — with cloud vendors are starting to look at migrating back to more of a hybrid/fixed cost model," says Jo Peterson, VP, converged cloud and data services for Clarify360, a Teleproviders Company. Do you have employees able to run the economics of these complex deals? If not, get some, or competitors will. Agents also tend to shy away from app dev engagements, but the fact is, software is eating the world. "Today's conversations with IT executives encompass the entire IT stack," says Manon Buettner, principal & CEO of Nuvalo LLC. "It has always been said that 'you lead with applications and business conversations and the services follow.' In 2016, this is truer than ever, and those speaking apps and infrastructure will win the services as 'pull- through' business." Greg Richey, director of professional services at Ingram Micro, also calls out app dev skills as being vital to the next big opportunity: Internet of Things. "How do you make your office heat come on when you scan your badge in a parking garage?" he says. "It's code." Ingram has created an application development network to help with that transition, but agents that prioritize hiring developers can get a jump. FEATURE

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