IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

SMB Forum 2012: ChannelPro Kicks Off Inaugural Event

The ChannelPro SMB Forum offered educational sessions and Q&As with industry experts on topics ranging from mobility to cloud computing. By Elaine J. Hom

On March 14, the Channel Pro SMB Forum 2012 kicked off its first year at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The inaugural event included several sessions and keynotes, plus networking events.

The highlight of the ChannelPro SMB Forum was the informative sessions involving lively discussions and Q&As. This conference differed from other industry events in the “forum” style sessions, where audience participation and discussion was encouraged. Unlike many conference sessions, which tend to include formal lectures, these sessions involved only a few minutes of speakers offering brief insights, while the rest of the time was balanced with informal discussion and Q&As. The goal of these sessions was to share best practices  and have all questions answered by the experts. Each attendee also received resources at each session, including white papers, analysis tools, and worksheets.

  • The first session, "Cloud Computing Business Essentials," sponsored by VAR Dynamics, provided hands-on advice for cloud computing challenges. The experts, Bradley Gross, Terry Hedden, and Ken Thoreson, discussed pricing cloud offerings, closing deals, and maneuvering the cloud and its legalities. During the session, Gross covered the legal hiccups and hurdles you might run into with cloud services, and offered this advice to avoid lawsuits: If you say it, do it. Ken Thoreson provided cloud marketing and strategy tips, while Terry Hedden outlined the cloud computing business in eight simple steps.
  • Sponsored by Quest Software, "Profiting from the Next Wave of Managed Services," featuring Tony Francisco and Alex Rogers, covered the next major trends in managed services. The session covered which services would be most profitable to MSPs and identified new revenue opportunities. During the session, Tony Francisco outlined the managed services business model, and how to best approach customers with hot new trends. Alex Rogers discussed how MSPs can differentiate themselves from other MSPs, including customer service and unique product offerings.
  • Sponsored by Microsoft and TD Mobility, the next session, "Taking on the Mobile Revolution," featured Anurag Agrawal, Garry Harper, and Jay McBain. The session covered the good and the bad of the mobility revolution, and how channel partners can support and secure mobile products while making a tidy profit. During the session, Anurag Agrawal examined the growing SMB mobility market, while discussing the major barriers. Garry Harper explained the distribution model of mobility, including how to sell the technology, representing SYNNEX. Jay McBain offered his insight on the future of mobility with five predictions about the mobile market.
  • Our final session, "Where the Money is in Vertical Industry Solutions," featured David Hutchinson, Barb Miller, and Terry Hedden. Choosing the right vertical to target is essential in a business strategy, and this session covered the hottest verticals, including healthcare and education. During the session, Barb Miller discussed the ever-growing healthcare vertical, while David Hutchinson tackled energy, financial, and retail industries. Terry Hedden reprised his role as a speaker, but this time discussed the perspective of the VAR specializing legal, real estate, and non-profit markets.

Keynote speakers for the event included Matt Smith from HP and Austin McChord of Datto. Smith began the SMB Forum with an engaging keynote on the latest HP technology and how the company enables its SMBs, while McChord closed the show with a dynamic presentation on being a "recurring revenue rockstar."

Click here for a full list of SMB Forum 2012 award winners. ChannelPro would like to thank the sponsors of this event, who showcased their booths on our exhibit floor:

  • Platinum sponsors: Datto and HP
  • Gold sponsors: Microsoft, Quest Software, TDmobility, Tech Data, and VAR Dynamics
  • Silver sponsors: Acumen Management, ASCII Group, ChannelEyes, CharTec, eFolder, GreatAmerica, McAfee, NASBA, QuoteWerks, Reflexion, SMB Nation, Spam Soap, StreamOne, Unity Mobile, and Varvid
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