Channel Dynamics turns 10
- 27 October, 2014 15:02
Cam Wayland and Moheb Moses. Photo by Ian Sharp
Ten years ago, two eager and enthusiastic channel experts (with complementary, but completely opposite skills sets ) teamed up to form a partnership that today is reaping the rewards and leaving an indelible mark in the ICT industry.
The charismatic and affable, Moheb Moses, along with the kind, pragmatic and practical, Cam Wayland, formed Channel Dynamics in a bid to fill a gap in the channel consulting market.
Today, the dynamic duo behind the success story that is Channel Dynamics celebrates its 10th anniversary, and sat down with ARN to discuss the exciting decade-long journey. The boutique channel focused sales training and consulting business has grown to impressive heights, with 150 different companies as clients and trained 4500 people globally from 800 companies.
Sit across from the collaborative Moses and the sharp-minded Wayland and you’ll instantly see the striking business chemistry and deep respect they share for one another as company co-founders, co-directors, and well-known channel experts.
Certainly, the pair weren’t strangers to each other after working in the industry for many years - they knew each other’s work ethic and method of operation.
Wayland has a total of 31 years in the ICT industry, having worked in sales, marketing and general management experience in both the IT and telecommunications industries with stints at Optus, Tech Pacific Australia, Sirius Technologies and NetComm.
Moses has spent over 30 years in the ICT industry in senior management roles, working at companies including WatchGuard Technologies, Citrix Systems, Cray Communications/Anite Networks and Sourceware.
The pair are relaxed, genuine and chock-full of information about the state of the channel, the transitory journey and what it means for the Channel Dynamics business.
“Anyone who spends any time with the two of us would say we are completely different,” Moses said. “But we complement each other. Cam counts beans and I watch fonts. Cam is much more structured. He does much more of the consulting; he looks after our finances and is involved in working with clients in the strategy development. I tend to do more sales and soft-skills. More of the training, particularly the partner messaging and training,” Moses said.
Wayland said the combination of skills makes for a great business recipe. “When you put the two sets of skills together it is one of the reasons why the business has been sustainable and why it has worked. It really is one and one makes three,” he said, indicating the complementary skills developed over time as the business started to take shape.
And sharing an office building has happened before. “Cam and I worked together in the 90’s for distribution company called Sourceware. The company was sold and the two of us went our separate ways,” Moses said, but they always kept in touch.
As fate would have it, both were in between jobs - and now free to explore starting their own venture. Both had a pulse on the market and knew the time was right to hatch their company - a move that was both risky and exhilarating at the same time, they acknowledged.
“It was a leap of faith and good timing on our part. If we go back 10 years ago  there weren’t a lot of channel consulting options for vendors at the time, and as far as I can tell there were none for distributors and resellers. And so it was something that we thought was a gap in the market,” Moses said.
As a bonus, Wayland said their industry expertise led them to this path. “We worked across all three levels of the channel: vendors, distributors and resellers, so we could say, “been there, done that.” Moheb had multiple stints in distribution. "Our experience gained at all three levels of the channel was invaluable.”
But did the duo have a specific game plan? Yes and no - although it looked very different at the start to what it is today, Moses said.
“Our business plan was we were going to help small Australian companies and we would consult to them on how to build the channel from scratch, the new entrants, the up and comers. We were going to use our experience, our knowledge, to help, smaller companies. But in that first year, we didn’t have a single Australian company and not a single small company. All the companies were well established in the channel. So it is true, it was nothing what we thought it would be,” Moses said, indicating the turn of events and signing of big clients [including Cisco, Symantec, Citrix] gave them a really good foundation.
Wayland said the larger clients were coming forward to gain deeper understanding of the channel nuances to improve their channel sales and marketing programs, processes and people skills. “They couldn’t find a proper training company.They needed real-world instruction and practical training and we filled that void.”
Additionally, Wayland said vendors needed information about branding. “What does your brand stand for as a vendor, and to the partner, and that’s where training is important,” Wayland said, adding the company helps a company manage and understand a channel model from every single aspect.
Looking over the jobs over the past 10 years, he said consulting engagements have ranged from channel partner surveys and analysis through to more detailed program audits or go-to-market reviews, as well as training or coaching many hundreds of channel sales professionals, covering startups to experienced channel professionals wanting to keep on top of their game.
“Ten years ago we leaped into the unknown, and every project is different and it has been a privilege to work in confidence with our clients,” Wayland said, adding they have worked with companies right across the industry from telco carrier to telephony vendor to security software vendor to professional services companies, to name a few. “It ranges from research, coaching, consulting, program design and execution, strategy development and training - and all of that keeps you sharp and it is a mix of skills and that gives me a lot of joy and satisfaction.”
Asked why the company has seen client numbers grow significantly, Moses said the team brings not only structure and style (the two main ingredients of a sales presentation), but also substance, which is more rare.
“For us there is a third element, which is substance, which is how do you make the message relevant to your audience? And a vendor message is a very different message to an end user message, compared to what it is to a distributor, compared to what it is to a reseller - and you have to have a core understanding of the channel, the roles and what the values are and what they do to make sure the message resonates.”
Moses said it is very easy for the channel to become too inward focused. “You talk about your own products; you focus purely on your competitors in terms of what you need to do next. One of the things we bring is objectivity that allows them to stop and think and have someone that they can bounce ideas off. We come in as a sounding board,” Moses said.
From a string of successful research projects that include one that completely changed the vendor’s marketing message in 12 months and another one that saw a distributor win a vendor that went on to become its most profitable vendor, to helping other vendors get dominant and lasting market positions, both Moses and Wayland said it’s incredibly rewarding to help clients achieve quantifiable, sustained results.
For Moses, the greatest milestone has been his ability to affect real change and continually connect with people.
“For me, it’s something a bit more personal. We run training courses and one of the things that is incredibly rewarding to me is when somebody rings up and says, ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but I attended one of your workshops five years ago and it was one of the best workshops I attended and now I run a team and I want to do the same thing with them.’
“When do I get the most satisfaction? It is when we’ve finished a project and we are presenting it back to the client - a training project - and you can see the audience looking at you and they hadn’t thought of it before - it is a light bulb moment, the penny dropping. It is that moment. When you have an effect on someone’s thinking in a positive way, that’s a very rewarding feeling to me.”
For Wayland, the past decade has seen an ongoing number of repeat customers knocking on the door. According to company numbers, 78 per cent of the client base are repeat customers. The satisfaction from the repeat business, along with the daily rewards the business presents is what makes Wayland excited about the next chapter of the journey.
“I am just as passionate today as when we started. I hope to continue to bring about positive change in the industry,” he said.
“What I find gratifying is that we have adopted what we call a “practical and tactical” consulting style. We put ourselves in the shoes or hot seat of the client, and companies, therefore, have been able to implement our recommendations, and then come back to us with what they have achieved in the real world against their overall channel goals. It feels like you are part of their extended team when they trust and confide in you to help them to achieve their goals. Extremely satisfying given the diversity of clients from multi-national tier 1 vendors, distributors and local small business or channel start ups we have worked on.”
But both Wayland and Moses acknowledged the journey hasn’t been without its disappointments, some scary times (one daunting project, in particular, had them working on a 13-country APAC project) and overall business ups and downs.
“In our early years the scariest thing was that you had no visibility beyond about four weeks out, so you just had no idea. Back then you had to go and find every piece of business. And interestingly when the Global Financial Crisis [GFC] hit we both had a bit of a panic, because when you can’t see very far out, then you struggle a bit more. But actually that was our best year. The following year was our worst year,” Moses said, explaining companies needed guidance and training during the GFC.
But dealing with change and ups and downs has made the business stronger. Wayland said the company has had to change with the times.
“If I look at the things driving the industry 10 years ago versus now - with Cloud computing, shrinking margins and changing business models - we have had to reinvent business models and our IP and our approach to clients because the industry has evolved. That has also kept us fresh in terms of what we do.”
Moses said the company has also been unique in its collaborative work arrangements and reached out to many channel experts in the field over the course of the 10 years, a practice that will continue and further fuel innovation.
“While everybody associates Channel Dynamics with Cam and I, we’ve been very privileged to work with channel individuals who work with us for a period of time or in between work including Kerstin Baxter [who headed up the Singapore office], Steve Martin, Ian McLean, Ryan Parker, Dean Vaughan, Tamara Hodgkinson, and Alex Lopez, who has been with us for a long time and he complements us and brings a very deep understanding of partners.”
A global feel
Channel Dynamics has also taken the duo on a global ride. From presenting in Singapore, Malaysia, India, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, Moses and Wayland have visited countless places around the world and learnt some cultural lessons along the way.
“We now have global capabilities. We are not after world domination, but I look beyond an A/NZ focus; we have tremendous focus on the APAC global reach,” Wayland said, adding this has been a refreshing and surprising direction of the company to evolve over the last 10 years.
And while the hard working pair are known for their astute business acumen and strong work ethic, they have also successfully mastered the art of work/life balance. For example, it is company policy to do a trip each year [whether it is the Gold Coast or Fiji] to determine the company’s business direction and strategy.
“When we started this business, we weren't after world domination,” Moses chuckled. "We wanted to be able to do something where we added value to the channel, but also in our own life where we have some kind of work/life balance -- and I think we have achieved that in the sense that people who have worked with us know that when we are working we will do everything we can so they will get the result they want, when they need it. But when we are not working we can take time for ourselves.”
Indeed, both Moses and Wayland can’t picture a life anywhere else. They are thrilled how the decade-long journey has changed both their lives and powerfully enriched it.
“We were known, but we were nobody’s ten years ago,” Moses said, adding he is now honoured to be well known in the ICT industry and is just as excited today as he was ten years ago to be a channel watcher and “change agent” for the industry.
“Our job is to not get complacent and to be aware of the changes and for us to adapt and recognise the changes in vendors and the changes in the channel, and how they’re evolving so that we can be around for our 20th anniversary.”