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Most people who end up working in the channel arrive there through a process of personal and professional development. Examining individual stories provides an opportunity to share the routes that were taken to get to a career in the industry and inspire others to follow.
MicroScope was able to get an insight from Jason Walkley, chief sales officer (CSO) at Wireless Logic UK and Arkessa, about how he got to where he is and his take on the current partner landscape.
What does your role look like today, and how did you get started in the channel?
I am currently CSO for Wireless Logic UK and Arkessa. Together, we provide a managed IoT [internet of things] connectivity platform and services, serving a broad range of vertical markets across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
Here at Wireless Logic, we sit on both sides of the channel equation, whereby we are the channel to market for a number of partners that contribute solutions and services to our ecosystem and propositions, and equally we go to market through channel partners in addition to solution providers and direct to customers.
I’ve spent my entire career in the communications and technology industry, and throughout this time, I think I have covered almost every conceivable direct and indirect go-to-market model. At the start of my career, most organisations had a predominately direct sales model, and the organisation where I started was no exception. However, I was fortunate to find myself in a leadership role very early on where, being part of a systematic programme to flip a 99% direct sales organisation to a 95% indirect sales organisation. I had the opportunity to play a pivotal role in supporting and driving that transformation both internally and externally.
Jason Walkley, Wireless Logic UK
The benefits of accelerated growth and scale, along with access to new markets and geographies, were very apparent and compelling. Every role I have held since then has involved the channel in one form or another, and on both vendor and partner sides, which has enabled me to develop a broad perspective. I have found that in a high-growth market, you must have the ambition to capitalise on every opportunity to maximise reach and scale at pace. An effective channel model is an absolute necessity in my view.
What advice do you have for others who want to get started in this sector?
Embrace change, it’s the only constant! Most importantly, be curious. Take ownership and responsibility for informing yourself about the industry and its ecosystem – not just the current technologies, but also those on the horizon.
Operate with the values of trust, honesty and integrity, otherwise, you can expect any success to be short-lived. People have long memories, and the ‘community’ or market is, in fact, a small one, so paths will continue to criss-cross over time.
Does your company do anything specific to help people get a career in the channel?
At Wireless Logic we have a strong pedigree of identifying, recruiting and developing talent, and run a highly successful, sales specific, two-year graduate programme. Equally, we welcome those with more experience and from a broad array of backgrounds.
Like many aspects of the technology industry, bright, curious and high-potential candidates can be taught about target markets, solutions and the underlying value propositions. Ambition and drive, however, is much more dependent on the individual.
We are fortunate to be growing at pace, not least our channel business, and therefore we welcome experienced candidates who exhibit these qualities, but also bring alternative perspectives to our team from their experiences in the industry or, indeed, from others.”
How do you think the pandemic has changed the priorities for the channel?
Undoubtably, it has, but there isn’t a single blanket answer in my opinion. Organisations that have a strategy of continuously innovating and remaining relevant to the markets they serve have continued to trade well, or even flourish, throughout the pandemic – with the added caveat of the impact of the market(s) that an organisation primarily services and the impact that the pandemic has had upon them. Clearly, those organisations covering a broader spectrum of markets have been able to mitigate these challenges, offsetting these with markets that have seen a more positive impact.
Now more than ever, businesses need to stay updated on all industry developments, and customers ultimately want a seamless service – it’s the role of the channel to take away complexity and deliver an integrated service and intuitive customer experience. Finding the right partner is more critical now than ever.
In the IoT space, we find that the solutions, knowledge and expertise we bring are beneficial to our partners. Ultimately, partners need to help customers understand the multitude of new opportunities – and challenges – that have stemmed from the pandemic and work together to stake a claim in the market.
What opportunities does digital transformation present?
Society as a whole, not just industry, has been on a digital transformation journey for the past 40 years, and we can all cite landmark events along this journey. The pandemic has, of course, accelerated the pace of transformation, that is without question. However, in my view, this accelerated rate of change will continue for the foreseeable future.
Jason Walkley, Wireless Logic UK
The human race has a history of responding to events in innovative ways. As the saying goes, “out of adversity comes opportunity”, and the limitations, constraints and challenges presented by the pandemic have provided the opportunity to do things differently.
Where do you see the channel heading in the next few years?
The channel is fierce – it is a constant evolutionary cycle and a market where it is very much a case of the “survival of the fittest”. I believe that consolidation across the channel is inevitable, as those who innovate and maintain their relevance thrive, and those who hold on to the past or become easily distracted by an array of possibilities are swept up or steadily fall by the wayside, some of whom will of course be replaced by a constant flow of new entrants.
While the vast majority of organisations have an appetite for growth, this has to be balanced with the need to maintain relevance in the market and to avoid becoming distracted or potentially diluted by the temptation to pursue the almost limitless opportunities available. Channel organisations that have a very clear sense of purpose and focus on their target markets with clearly defined value propositions, rather than trying to grab every conceivable opportunity, will, in my view, come out on top and be the winners.
For us, these are exactly the types of businesses that we like to create solid partnerships and opportunities with – whether they are ISPs [internet service providers], MSPs [managed service providers], unified comms [providers] or IT resellers.