Building a successful business isn’t easy. In fact, the challenges may seem insurmountable at times for those with few people to lean on. This is a major reason why peer groups work so well, especially in the IT arena where change is constant and the customer experience is everything. Professionals need to engage with others who share similar challenges, opportunities and learning experiences who are willing to share and collaborate.
With the increasing complexity of technology and growing demands on solution providers, most simply can't go it alone anymore. And those who say they can are missing out on a big opportunity to do even more—the chance to expand their networks and access to valuable resources, and to improve their entrepreneurial knowledge and capabilities. Each is a benefit of belonging to a peer community.
These points and more were explored and emphasized in a main-stage panel discussion at the 2016 Ingram Micro ONE conference in Las Vegas. Members of the distributor’s Trust X Alliance and SMB Alliance peer communities joined Jennifer Anaya, vice president, marketing, Ingram Micro, for a candid conversation on the value of collaboration. The experienced panel of solution providers included:
- Stephen Heslop, COO, Hutchinson Networks
- Jeff Pascoe, account manager, Quartet Service (co-president of the Maple Leaf Chapter of Trust X Alliance)
- Bob Bell, CFO and director of operations, Integrated Data Technologies (President of SMB Alliance)
- Ryan Overtoom, partner, Sikich, LLP
Over the course of the session, they discussed the challenges and opportunities of running an IT services business, and how their respective peer communities have helped them address many of them. The “power of many peers” lets them amplify their strengths and fill gaps, and elevates their influence with key business partners.
That’s extremely important with the challenges they face in today’s increasingly complex and demanding IT ecosystem. “Staying relevant and profitable is a concern,” said Bell. “We are undergoing the most extensive revolution we have ever seen and we find ourselves relying more on the power of our community, sharing resources and generating business offerings together.”
The Trust X Alliance is a very high-commitment group, and its members willingly share a lot of ideas and business opportunities. Member to member collaboration continues to increase, and for good reason. “Trust X allows us to extend our geographic reach,” stressed Overtoom. “We don’t always have feet on the ground in our clients’ locale, but we can work with group partners to provide that support and know the customer will receive the same level of service.”
Though the conversation covered a great number of issues, it kept coming back to one thing: the benefits of working with other solution providers while getting the full support of Ingram Micro and its many vendor partners. That’s what they get from membership in the Trust X and SMB Alliance communities. “We were looking for integrated solutions to offer our clients,” emphasized Heslop. “Our relationship with Ingram Micro strengthened as a result and that support is helping us grow faster.”
Pascoe expressed similar thoughts of collaboration, focusing on how community fosters innovation. “IT is changing so much and so fast that it’s important to leverage the skill sets of other partners. It helps everyone grow.” And help comes quick in the Trust X community. “I recently sent an email to everyone in the chapter about a new opportunity and had a significant number of responses in minutes.”
The group shared many other thoughts and great experiences they’ve had as community members over the years. Tales of valued new friendships and innovative solutions, as well as the respect they’ve developed for key collaboration partners. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.” The panelists have embraced that philosophy well and emphasize how essential their peer group memberships are to their success— not just today, but in the future as well.