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ShoreTel Conference Partners Scale with Intimacy

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Recently, I attended the 2012 ShoreTel Champion Partner Conference in Orlando, Fla. After eight days of intense business talk and the three days of travelling that followed, I was still buoyed by what I had witnessed. The exhaustion and jetlag were minor niggles in what turned out to be the best and most informative conference I had ever attended.

What struck me was the sheer size of the event, particularly the sheer variety of our innovation partners. It’s all well and good seeing a list of partners on a piece of paper, or scrolling through them on a website, but it was only when I witnessed them standing together demonstrating joint value propositions that I realised just how big this was. It was easy to get lost in the simplicity of the solutions on display; after all, it is what ShoreTel is all about.

In my presentation I discussed our EMEA alliances and how they have changed. Once, there were no relationships, no route to market, no business plans and no global leverage. This, admittedly, was not ideal. Now, however, our alliances are a focused resource that drive strategic channel value and has global partner visibility. Make no mistake, though, we have already grown and changed for the better and with conferences such as the one I recently witnessed, it is not hard to see why.

It was an event as inspiring as it was exhausting; everyone in attendance was enthusiastic, well-informed and eager to learn, and the entire conference thrived as a result. This was a perfect mix of size and accessibility; it was intimacy on a grand scale. This is a challenge facing many companies, and something they should strive to maintain as they grow larger. It is not the monolithic, faceless organisations that inspire trust in partners and customers, but the ones that are willing to take time to get to know and understand collaborators’ strengths, and more importantly the challenges facing partners and how best to support them.

ShoreTel epitomised these qualities and the conference was a perfect example. How many times do we see similar events held by industry giants, where a distant senior executive stands on stage, and makes grand announcement before disappearing behind the curtain.  It is a mystery as to how this could inspire belief in partners and customers.  At the partner conference, ShoreTel executives were mingling and interacting until the early hours of the morning – talking to attendees, sharing stories and offering insights; inspiring trust and confidence. They may have shared a few beers too, but this goes to consolidate the relationship.

The final observation I’d make is a practical one to bear in mind for next year– the ShoreTel Champion Conference 2012 was held at the Swan and Dolphin hotel in Florida, which was fantastic, but to borrow a phrase from a film set on the same coast: we’re gonna need a bigger boat venue!