The power of people in a digital world

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the ChannelNext Conference (presentation available here) to IT professionals and business owners. Of late, I have spent time speaking on a subject that requires close attention by everyone in business today: Understanding Digital Marketing from a Human Perspective. In our quest to chase “clicks, opens and likes”, we forget that there is a human being on the other side of the screen and that human beings are motivated to do something based on their own very personal wants and needs. Therefore, understanding human behaviour is the core ingredient to any successful digital marketing campaign. Turns out, it is and likely always will be the, the core ingredient to any good business.

Following my presentation, the audience was divided into eight MasterMind groups and I had the opportunity to facilitate one of the groups. If you are not familiar with the MasterMind concept, I encourage you to check it out. The group generates business issues of personal importance and then chooses one topic and one person to put in the “hot seat” and workshop their issue. What struck me about the list my table generated, is that the issues facing businesses today are the same as they always are- they are all about people.

The technology revolution that has unfolded since the internet was invented, has largely changed the way we work. And in fact, the businesses I was speaking with, would likely not exist if it wasn’t for this revolution. None of the participants at my table were with companies that were more than 20 years old and many have only existed in the last ten years.

Why are new companies still facing age old problems?

Here is a sample of the issues that my group generated:

  • Better digital marketing strategies and help closing sales
  • Engaging employees in the business
  • Breaking into new markets
  • Prospecting to find new customers
  • How to choose the right areas to focus on in the business
  • Competing with “no decision” in the sales cycle
  • Evolving a business model
  • Having a team hit sales targets as part of a joint business plan

The interesting thing about the group discussion was that most of the captured issues and brought up as part of the interactive discussion, were about sales, marketing and customer service. And ALL of these issues focus on people. For a group of IT professionals, it was interesting to note that not a single issue was technology related. Business issues all related to the mentoring, education and collaboration of people in order to achieve business goals.

I find this fascinating as I talk to more and more business people. It continues to be the human element of a business that requires constant attention and change in order to navigate. People are the ones that buy products and services and people are the ones that help deliver them.

In Seth Godin’s blog post, Accelerating Revolutions, he used a line that spoke to me:

“We’re living right now in the connection revolution, one powered by the internet, in which people connect to people, computers connect to computers and our culture changes ever faster, daily.”

ChannelNext is evolving as an organization to better meet the needs of people in IT organizations. They are currently offering companies the opportunity to enroll in a program called the “Elite 300 Group”. This program is about people connecting to people. Canada’s next top 300 VARs and MSPs will be able to incubate and grow within a new mentoring framework focused on the outputs of building a business, not just operating one.

As part of the Elite 300 Group, ChannelNext will help companies identify their strengths and weaknesses by measuring their best practices. The Best Managed IT Companies assessment is just one of the tools that they will use in the process. It is from this starting point that they will help them to start on the journey of becoming one of the top 300 channel partners – more profitable, more productive and grow more sales. The test is available at The next step is becoming a member of the Elite 300 Channel Partners at

The ChannelNext event was not about WHAT you will sell to your clients, but a reflection of HOW you run your business and HOW you communicate with people. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a business operator, rather than a business owner. A successful business owner takes a step back and looks at the business from different angles, often with the help of people who have an outside view.

The event was a great reminder of the power of people. Being able to get away from the office and sit and talk with people in a productive and safe environment is what every good business person should seek. I look forward to catching up with some of my new ChannelNext colleagues and seeing how the people equation of their business is evolving.