For 25 years, “Baptie” as people in the Channel understand it, is a gathering of new minds and the old guard from all walks of channel life. It’s been a must attend since I joined CCI Global Channel Management in 2009, and I haven’t missed one since. In fact, Baptie’s Channel Focus Conference hasn’t missed a beat in those 25 years– even through the pandemic, Rod kept it going with one of the best run virtual events in any industry.

Channel Focus Today:

Rod Baptie – please don’t stop anytime soon. The community you have created is amazing for many reasons, and here are just a few:

  • Direction – This event brings everyone together with a single focus – Channels and their success. There is no other event that allows us to dig in deeper in such a short amount of time, share with more like missioned cohorts, and learn from those who have succeeded and those that have failed. I have never seen a community that is willing to share like this one, ever. This is not the norm, and we should appreciate it.
  • Relevancy – The global economy, the buyer’s journey, and the way to do business has shifted significantly over the past two decades. The shift over the last two year have been even more dramatic, exponential even. And the acceleration of change shows no signs of slowing, making the Channel more critical than ever, which is why we need Channel Focus to keep bringing us together, keeping us all plugged into the market, the economy, geopolitics, and each other.
  • Clarity – We need simplicity in a world where CX to PX is mandatory and simplification from MDF to Incentives to TCMA is now table stakes, and at the same time the routes to market are getting increasingly complex. With multiple offerings, partners, and vendors now involved on virtually every deal, transaction, and opportunity, we need Channel Focus and our community knowledge to helps us find ways to keep it simple. Simple is hard and challenging, but we have to make it happen.
Colleen Kapase, Celeste Steele and Ross Brown

What Works at Channel Focus:

While it’s the day prior to Channel Focus, The Women’s Leadership Council event is an incredible kick-off to the conference – bringing in top talent, ideas, and personalities from all walks of the Channel, who then stay for the rest of Channel Focus. As a staunch ally, I’m continually impressed with the Women’s Leadership Council, who work so incredibly hard to achieve remarkable success in gender equality. This event has become a pinnacle moment every year and the enthusiasm I have seen and heard from women making their way in the channel, has been amazing and inspiring to see.

Tricia Atchison, Donna Grothjan, Cheryl Cook and Alyssa Fitzpatrick

As for Channel Focus event itself, the highlights for me, and I believe for many who attend, were the intelligent and relevant keynotes that stand out throughout the conference. This year’s panelists and speakers included Alissa Fitzpatrick from Intel, Tricia Atchison from Citrix, Cheryl Cook from Dell, Donna Grothjan from Aruba, Ross Brown from Oracle, Colleen Kapase from Snowflake, and John Moses from Cisco, and of course Rod Baptie. A powerhouse of channel knowledge, each speaker took on the Channel’s biggest issues, shared their vision, and highlighted the paths forward and the opportunities we all have as part of the channel – even with the economic challenges we all face.

Workshop led by Tricia Atchison

And then the work begins, and that is the beauty of Channel Focus. What makes Channel Focus successful year after year are the breakout sessions and workshops that touch on a broad range of relative topics. There is something for everyone, and while I couldn’t catch them all, I truly found value in sessions like Richard Flynn’s “Partner Performance Metrics,” Heather Margolis, Alissa Fitzpatrick, Theresa Caragol’s “The Rise of Sales and Marketing Certification,” and Guy Cunningham, Marc Monday, Scott Musson “Building and MSP Program, What do They Really Want.” All were informative and engaging – tackling serious subjects while still ranking exceedingly high on the interactive and fun meter. Rod has truly assembled and harnessed so much great Channel talent.

Tanja Froehlingsdorf with Steven Kellam

Building on 25 Years of Success

Rod Baptie begins every Channel Focus with a question about how to improve. While he has a winning formula, evolving for the next generation of Channel leaders is key. As part of the Channel “old guard” I realize that it’s more important than ever to go after new talent early and often. From panels to keynotes to lively cocktail parties, fresh perspectives, and new ways of sharing them keep us all on our toes and that’s exactly what we need in the Channel. I also would love to see even more substantive debates. Not everyone needs to get along all the time. How hard could it be to get someone to disagree with Larry Walsh (or have him disagree with someone or everyone).   

Claudio Ayub and Joe Sykora with Steven Kellam

What Comes Next? Partnerships

Partnerships are evolving and they are reaching critical importance at the highest levels of organizations. This is in part because of macro dynamics, but also a new generation that looks at partnership very differently. They don’t differentiate between direct and indirect partnerships or whether it’s co-sell or through sell. All that matters is driving revenue.

I watched and listened (as many of you did) as Colleen Kapase of Snowflake, presented with Ross Brown and proclaimed, “Partnership Chief” instead of “Channel Chief.” The same themes were present at Catalyst 2022 which leads me to believe that there are going to be some seismic shifts in the industry as we look forward to the next 25 years.

Steven Kellam with Maria (Leuck) Chien

Here’s to being a part of it all at Channel Focus and here’s to Rod Baptie, who continues to successfully bring together the Channel community each year to solve problems, create new opportunities and have a bit of fun in the meantime.