Preview: ChannelNext Spring 2012

HandshakeMy bag’s not yet unpacked from this week’s trip to New Orleans for Intel Solutions Summit, but it’s almost time to pack it back up.

Next Monday and Tuesday sees the kickoff of the annual ChannelNext events, with the spring gathering hosted in Vaudreil, Quebec, just outside Montreal. And with 20-plus sponsoring vendors and distributors, and hundreds of solution providers on hand, it’s sure to be a busy event.

It’s a great day-and-a-half of informational sessions, informal networking and fun, with some of the biggest and brightest names in the Canadian channel community, and I’m looking forward to going there – and not just because the unseasonably fantastic spring weather should make my drive to Quebec an absolute pleasure.

I’m by no means party to everything that’s going to go down at ChannelNext ahead of time, but here’s some of my thinking on the highlights of next week’s meetings.

Word on the street is that Xerox is going to be making “an exclusive channel announcement” at ChannelNext. I’m not privy to what that announcement is, but an educated guess: earlier this year, I heard some loud and clear “watch this space” language from the team at Xerox about a major managed print push in the channel. Its targeted launch date, at that time, was towards the end of the first quarter. It just so happens that Q1 wraps up next Saturday, just days after ChannelNext. Coincidence? Could be, or ChannelNext attendees could get a first look at what’s next from Xerox. My interest is piqued, at the very least.

Just how ready are Canadian businesses for managing mobile device security in the bring-your-own-device world? Websense will be presenting the findings of its worldwide study of just that topic, which includes Canadian statistics. I’ve already had a peek at the results – you can find a summary here. But it will be interesting to see what other data the Websense team has in store.

Managed services will also be high on the agenda. Among others, Autotask and Kaseya will both be on hand to share the latest in managed services best practices.

There’s also a heavy focus on business-building at the event – I’m hearing chatter about the launch of an online sales skill test for channel sales reps at the event, as well as a new social media consultancy for solution providers. On top of that, the event hosts will be doing video profiles of attendee VARs under their ecnTV brand, their VARCoach division will offer a prospecting workshop, and their ibiz10 division will present its latest-generation Web store for solution providers.

And of course, last but not least (at least as far as I’m concerned), will be on hand Monday and Tuesday in Vaudreil, striving to bring you all of the news and some of the personalities out of the event. I hope to meet with many of you there, and get your thoughts on the event, the market, and business in the first half of 2012.

See you Quebec!