By Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA
The retail IT channel can be a grind (for many reasons I don’t need to list here), but does it have to be? That’s one of my thoughts after experiencing Inspire 2023, the RSPA’s annual leadership conference, held Jan. 22-25 at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort. The conference set an attendance record for an RSPA event in Hawaii with over 225 registrants, most of them senior channel executives and aspiring channel leaders.
Inspire is known for its in-depth networking but what struck me this year was the simplicity of the event. There’s no expo hall, no breakout sessions, no security guards checking IDs, no fighting for a boxed lunch, no shuttle bus to-and-from your hotel, and no regret about wearing uncomfortable shoes. If trade shows are akin to navigating a sprawling state university campus, Inspire is a charming one-room schoolhouse.
That simplicity theme carries beyond the conference, I believe. Across three days, the group wrestled with new growth strategies, market trends, and company leadership – all heady topics for sure. But a first-time Inspire attendee, an RSPA VAR member from Canada, shared with me that the solution to those challenges and more can be found in one word: partnerships. If he said it to me once, he said it to me 10 times during our conversation. Partnerships.
To grow, you need to offer best-in-class products and services and continually expand that offering. You can’t do that alone, so you’ll need to engage in more partnerships. The flurry of emerging technologies can be confusing, but there’s help for sorting through it all. Lean on your longtime trusted partners and find new partners to give you clarity. Partnerships.
The Day 2 panel I moderated about channel trends touched on marketplaces, ecosystems, platforms, customer experience, automation, cybersecurity, 5G, AI, the transformation of the retail business model, and more. When I asked panelists Jon Moran of TD SYNNEX, Michel Sirois of BlueStar Canada, and analyst Jay McBain of Canalys how VARs and ISVs should navigate each of these, their answers had a common thread: Partnerships.