Bill Corbin takes newly-created channel role at 8×8 to take channels there to next level

Longtime Westcon exec Corbin is recruited to 8x8 to become old channel chief Chris Peters’ new boss, and talks with ChannelBuzz about his plans to drive the company’s business forward.

Bill Corbin, SVP of Channels and Alliances at 8×8

Cloud phone, contact centre and collaboration solution vendor 8×8 has stepped up its channel efforts with the announcement that Bill Corbin has been appointed to a new position at the helm of the channel organization. Chris Peters, who had been the global channel chief, remains in his actual role of  VP of strategic channel development, and now reports to Corbin. Corbin, whose title is SVP of Channels and Alliances, reports directly to CEO Vik Verma, an indication of the new position’s increased authority within the company.

Corbin ran channels and strategic partnerships in his last job, at CenturyLink. He is, however, probably better known in the channel for his decade-long stint at distributor Westcon, where he was EVP, Global Sales and Partner Management. He emphasized that he was brought to 8×8 to drive the channel business to a new level.

“The purpose of creating my new role is that 8×8 has grown to a certain point without trying as hard as they could in the channel,” Corbin told ChannelBuzz. “The only way to scale the business to the next level will be to leverage the channel.”

The 8×8 channel is a combination of traditional telco master-agent channel relationships, and IT channel partners using distribution. Both need some work, Corbin said.

“We have some maturity in the traditional master agent channel, and Chris has been knee-deep in that for a few years,” Corbin said. “It needs some organization and scale.” The distribution and reseller channels are much newer. They presently use Jenne and Ingram Micro for distribution.”

Corbin said that he thinks that their distribution could be doing more for them than they have been to date – but that it is still early days.

“I’m not satisfied, but they are new relationships, and there hasn’t been time to scale them,” he said. “We will develop that over the next couple of quarters, both in North America, and predominately, in EMEA and APJ. Distribution is something that has not been leveraged and scaled. It will be leveraged very heavily, especially internationally. I’m here to ensure that we will do that.”

Corbin said that this will entail looking closely at the existing distribution relationships, bearing in mind the need to avoid overdistribution.

“We will look at each region as a standalone,” he said. “If we aren’t getting the scale we need, we would have to change things.”

While Corbin expects both 8×8’s telco and distribution channels to be able to scale up, he also indicated that he expects the same from 8×8’s strategic relationships with ISV partners. To date, this has been a minor part of the go-to-market, but that’s something else he said would change.

“We will also focus on the ISV community as an independent route to market – as well as the system integrators,” he said. “Our ISV strategy is still fairly nascent – not for a lack of desire – but for lack of a program that systematically enables us with ISVs in a go-to-market strategy. That will be developed, over time, but in the near term.”

All of these channels will require more customization than exists today.

“I am a real fan of livening up routes to market with selling motions and around customer requirements,” he said. “Right now, it’s kind of ‘one size fits all.’

More details on that will be coming in the next three months, Corbin said.

On the programmatic front, the only thing that is certain in the short term is a new partner portal.

“We will relaunch the partner portal to do some of the things in a quicker and more efficient fashion,” Corbin said. “That’s in flight right now. Expect it to go GA in the next three months. As far as changes to the reseller or agent agreements – it’s too early to determine that. But the portal is very important.”