8×8’s Reflections on AVANT’s Special Forces Virtual Summit 2020

AVANT Communications annual Special Forces Summit is one of the signature events in the IT channel ecosystem. This year, AVANT promised the Virtual Special Forces Summit would be unlike anything experienced in 2020 and they delivered!

Stellar keynote speakers; best practices from Trusted Advisors and award recognition from our colleagues in the industry made it an event to remember for the team here at 8×8. We were a proud platinum sponsor and thrilled that John DeLozier, SVP Global Channel Chief, had the privilege to introduce the unforgettable keynote with Marcus Luttrell, the former Navy Seal, best-selling author of Lone Survivor, and podcast host.

Luttrell’s speech was one of the most impactful sessions for me. As a military hero, he has been through more stressful situations than most of us. His stories about resilience, discipline, perseverance as well as good stress management are strong metaphors for the Operate-from-Anywhere era in which we live. He aptly said, “diamonds are forged in pressure…the tighter the pressure, the brighter you shine.”

Accelerating Business Transformation

The thing about diamonds is they may start to grow and then there may be an interruption for some reason – a change in conditions, temperature, pressure, whatever—and they could sit for millions or hundreds of millions of years before they start growing again.

As far as the diamond analogy goes – organizations that don’t respond to changes become stagnant. The way we do business has changed – partly due to Covid, but also because cloud, AI, and other technologies are increasing competition and inspiring innovation. In fact, cloud transformation is now as much a defensive tactic as it is an offensive one.

This is why Trusted Advisors are more important than ever to help clients make the right vendor and technology selections. In addition to helping clients future-proof their business, AVANT co-founder Drew Lydecker estimated that $1,800 worth of unified communications monthly recurring revenue is sold every minute. He was making a clarion call to the industry to be bold about pursuing the incredible opportunities that are available to them right now.

Platform, Platform, Platform

Another theme we heard throughout the summit across many vendors is the importance of platform, something 8×8 has championed for quite some time. We believe maintaining an open platform that supports multiple applications and integrations is the best way to give end customers — and users the most flexibility and value. As a practical matter, an open cloud platform means you can:

  • Move from a phone call to a video conference with a click
  • Leverage a single analytics dashboard for comprehensive user insights
  • Personalize experiences with APIs and CPaaS
  • Innovate with services such as 8×8 Voice for MS Teams
  • Gain cost and other efficiencies by using a single cloud vendor

We know Trusted Advisors are regularly tasked with guiding their customers through the decision making process of choosing a-la-carte solutions versus a platform approach (or something in between). Based on what we heard at Special Forces, it is clear that the industry is following our lead around a single cloud platform approach. It is incumbent on Trusted Advisors to be educated about platforms and one-offs.

As we continue to work with AVANT to help their Trusted Advisors grow their businesses, showcasing what a single cloud platform can do for end customers will be a primary area where we will dedicate educational resources to help Trusted Advisors earn more organic and new revenue.

AVANT Awards

8×8 was also honored at the AVANT Special Forces Summit with two awards including International Vendor of the Year.

This was an incredible, humbling honor reflective of a lot of hard work and collaboration across the globe. Additionally, AVANT named 8×8 “Most Responsive Vendor” of the year! This is meaningful because it is a measure of how easy 8×8 is to do business with. Being responsive is important to creating great partner and customer experiences, so we are excited about this award as well.

One example that demonstrates both our international reach and partner responsiveness was the blended solution we developed with an AVANT Trusted Advisor for a large UK-based financial services organization to meet their unique needs around MS Teams.

We are thankful to AVANT for being both a customer and a partner and for putting on a fantastic event. Special kudos to Ian Kieninger, Drew Lydecker, Jennifer Gallego, Shane McNamara, Alex Danyluk and the rest of the AVANT team for generating lots of excitement and enthusiasm in our community as we hit the final stretches of 2020 and move into 2021.