By Paolo Del Nibletto
The ChannelNext East conference in Montreal was my first in-person event since January of 2020 and it hosted local channel partners and MSPs from the area as well as several more who live-streamed the show. The one-day event was held at the Riverside Event Venue in the city, and it provided the best backdrop for an in-person event under strict COVID-19 restrictions. Riverside is an indoor-outdoor facility that enabled the conference organizers TechnoPlanet to provide a safety-first, social distancing format for all attendees, speakers, and event staff.
TechnoPlanet president and show host Julian Lee said the IT industry needed to re-start in-person events after such a long layoff.
“The channel needs to get back to work and we see in-person conferences as an important part of a get back to work strategy. The main objective of the ChannelNext East event was to rethink the conference showcasing interesting areas that are more suited for the current situation,” he said.
This meant that a hotel, where most conferences usually take place, was out of the question. Hotels have plenty of moving staff going from event to event and the chances of cross-contamination would be high. For Lee and his team, they needed to adapt to a new situation that could best meet the new model, while having a hybrid approach so that it can interest a bigger audience. Another factor for Lee was his desire to support local businesses hard hit by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. This is why TechnoPlanet chose the Riverside indoor-outdoor event venue in the Saint Henri district of Montreal.
ChannelNext East featured a talk show format highlighted by opening keynote Q&A with Chris Fabes, the Canadian Channel Chief of Lenovo. Fabes talked about how Lenovo Canada would be helping channel partners and MSPs pivot from the pandemic, what investments they were making in the channel community and how they were scaling towards an as-a-service model.
This was followed up with a panel discussion on how to best approach the Digital First Economy which featured leadership consultant Glynis Devine and myself. I spoke about how MSPs can get a leg up on the digital economy with fixed cost, as-a-service solutions in security, backup, and cloud.
The show also featured an expo and a Lion’s Den competition with executives from Datto, Cyber Power, Net2Phone, SherWeb and ViewSonic squaring off in three-minute segments. Show attendees in-person and online could vote for who had the best pitch.
Finally, Randall Wark, the co-created of the Channel Partner Alliance took the stage to outline the benefits of the Mastermind programs along with bringing actionable strategies and insight on digital best practices to MSPs and channel partners.
Lee added the ChannelNext East hybrid event says there is help if the channel wants it.
“The struggle is real in the channel, but there is help out there either virtual or in-person.”
The ChannelNext East event may have been the first in-person show so far this year, but it will not be the last. Lee and his team are working on the next event that will be staged on Oct. 20th in Toronto.