CRN’s 2019 “Women of the Channel”: Q&A with Amy Olthouse, Director of Channel Partner Sales, and Amy Lock, Senior Partner Marketing Manager
Women of the channel today are making a significant impact across the IT industry, and their roles and influence have clearly evolved into a major force. We sat down with Amy Olthouse, director of channel partner sales, and Amy Lock, senior partner marketing manager, to talk through the critical role of the channel in driving digital transformation and why it’s never been a more exciting time to be in the IT industry.
It’s an exciting time to be in the channel business within the tech landscape. The tech industry, now more than ever, needs channel players who play a role in defining and integrating technology innovations that create real business value. How has your role and the marketing landscape changed in the last few years?
Amy Olthouse: I began in this industry during a period of time where channel partner value had lain primarily in their ability to both streamline the procurement process and provide implementation services to their clients. Today, the market has drastically changed to enable a democratized approach in technology acquisition that leverages Cloud as IaaS and SaaS, forcing the traditional channel partner and partner sales teams to reinvent themselves or perish. The role of both the channel management team and partner has evolved to one of specialization and consultative business value selling rather than just technology fit.
Amy Lock: Since I started my career in tech in 2011, I’ve seen quite a shift from how our customers plan and what they prepare for — that in and of itself has changed the shape of the channel and how we go to market. In the past, you would find many VARs, as an example, that focused their main go-to-market functions and revenue streams around technologies, like network monitoring and storage. Today, the VARs that are in a competitive market position are those that have made acquisitions or expanded into new practices such as DevOps, cybersecurity, and DataOps.
From a marketing perspective, data is more important than ever as we strive to understand our customers and verticals deeply while having a forwarding-looking perspective of the objectives they’re trying to solve. This information is enabling us to work strategically with each partner through campaigns and programs that resonate with their existing client base, and most importantly, put the customer in the company of trusted advisors as they look to innovate.
You both work closely with our entire partner ecosystem to bring value to our customers and help move their business and IT initiatives forward. What are the characteristics of companies that are getting digital transformation right?
Amy Olthouse: At Delphix, we find that companies that truly define digital transformation as the key enabler to staying ahead of changing industry trends — rather than just improving their current offerings — are reaping the biggest rewards. Some common themes from a technology standpoint are heavy investments in the cloud, adoption of a DevOps culture, and a vision embracing change starting with their leadership.
Amy Lock: We find that companies that are hitting their metrics and succeeding with digital transformation are the ones that are investing in the cloud, DevOps, and DataOps and looking to solve every interdependency and bottleneck as it relates to data (just as they have automated and orchestrated the rest of their SDLC pipeline). Additionally, the leadership of an innovative organization typically shares a common theme around incoming roles, such as the Chief Digital Officer, Chief Data Officer, and Chief Analytics Officer, just to name a few. While the leadership is important, it also signals that the enterprise is bringing in those who will challenge the status quo and ensure every IT asset, such as data, is leveraged in every capacity possible, whether that is for AI/ML, privacy, customer experience, or development acceleration.
In a world where every company is a data company, how would you describe the role of data within their digital transformation efforts?
Amy Olthouse: Data is the lifeblood of any organization and the ability to capitalize on one’s enterprise data in real time will allow companies to innovate faster, improve the customer experience and take better advantage of BI and predictive analytics tools.
Amy Lock: With the introduction of the DevOps practice, companies have shifted its culture to bring teams together for iterative planning and releases. It's safe to assume they've automated and orchestrated some portion of their SDLC to accelerate application release time. While these material improvements are positive, until the organization's most critical asset, data, is leveraged in a similar way, the organization is missing out on the opportunity to open new revenue streams, introduce new customer experiences through ML, and automate and orchestrate data through your SDLC for faster time-to-market for business-critical objectives.
Technology companies and enterprise customers alike need active channel partners who play a role in defining and integrating technology to deliver tangible results. What is the role of the channel in today’s era of digital disruption?
Amy Olthouse: The partners have had to shift to create new value for their customers. They have had to become consultants in strategy, develop new skill sets and offerings, and create service lines to provide subject matter expertise. Today’s successful channel partners have a profile that is far closer to the global systems integrator (GSI) and consulting firms than ever before.
Amy Lock: At Delphix, we work with our partners to drive strategic customer outcomes. Enterprises are leveraging the channel using a multi-tier approach, where they have a team of experts across the board to enhance the end-to-end lifecycle of planning, evaluating, purchasing and implementing. Through focused partner practices, customers can leverage one category of the channel for strategy planning, integrate a cloud provider such as AWS or Microsoft for their cloud strategy, and manage workload migration and adoption of their cloud migration strategy through a DataOps platform, like Delphix. Involvement of SMEs throughout the lifecycle provides the customer with an unmatched level of expertise, planning, and delivery.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Amy Olthouse: The importance of embracing change and becoming a student for life. I don’t believe that the situation is always the same or that there are only two sides of an issue. I take the approach that every experience is seen through a lens, and if there is ever a time where you believe you have all of the answers, you have missed an opportunity to learn.
Amy Lock: Many still shy away from this idea, but more women need to pull up a chair and bring themselves to the table. You are your own competitive advantage, so recognize that your thoughts and comments are valuable and critical for business success. Then champion and encourage other women to do the same.
Lastly, which female leaders do you admire and why?
Amy Olthouse: Valerie Jarrett. I had the opportunity to listen to her speak during a fireside chat several years ago, and she represented so many qualities I admire. She embraced her entire life as a constant education — from the time she was young learning to appreciate and respect diverse cultures to navigating challenges with her predominantly male peers in both her private and public sector careers. She humanizes her path to success all the way to the White House and continues to be an amazing inspiration for women around the world.
Amy Lock: When I think about the type of woman I want to exemplify for my children, I think of one who is merciless among her convictions and morals, continues to intelligently poise arguments for what she believes is just, and uses her voice that commands attention despite any burdened personal costs. Coretta Scott King was bold, brave, and uncompromising in her beliefs. She was integral in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and continued her civil rights efforts well beyond her husband’s passing, eventually advocating for full human rights, including for the LGBT community. Coretta Scott King is the epitome of a female leader that I admire.
See the official press announcement of the CRN's 2019 Women of the Channel.