Conference season is in full swing, and thank goodness I had comfortable dress shoes to endure the 22 miles I walked last week at HPE Discover. Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath and as I prepare for follow-up meetings with some great organizations I met with while there, I want to take a minute to reflect on what all this hustle and bustle is really about. At the most basic level, these are the results the incredible team of CenturyLink staff and our amazing partners are working toward.

I now realize that last week represented an inflection point in the maturity of the System Integrator Alliance organization. HPE Discover is a huge show, but it wasn’t just about HPE – it was about all of the SIs who attended. Over the last several months, the SI Alliance has worked incredibly hard to develop relationships and gain mindshare. And it is paying off. The level of interest we experienced was unprecedented, with a multitude of SIs coming to us to find out how they can drive more business with CenturyLink.

At one point, looking around at a gathering of about 30 worldwide solutions providers I had the opportunity to join, it was clear there was no one in the room quite like CenturyLink. Hybrid IT was the talk of the show – Meg Whitman was quoted numerous times, citing IDC that “53 percent of enterprises are considering bringing back workloads on premises or already have.” I clearly saw how we are uniquely positioned for the future because we can provide a public cloud solution with our own cloud, with AWS, with Azure and we can integrate it into one framework since we also own the network.

New opportunities abound for channel partners and system integrators to drive customers’ digital transformation around the “intelligent edge.” Edge-to-core network integration will be key to this, and CenturyLink can provide full service for the SI to deliver to its customer. It was so exciting to talk with execs at different companies and see the recognition in their eyes that CenturyLink can be a strategic partner they can rely on to develop joint solutions for the benefit of their customers.

I see three major contributing factors that led us here with this momentum swelling under us:

  1. We wouldn’t be here without the dedicated work the team has been doing. Just at this show alone, we had over two dozen people representing us, and our marketing team crushed their lead gen goal 5x over!
  2. The awareness we earned last month at SAP Sapphire Now moved the needle tremendously.
  3. And certainly not least, the recognition we received as the HPE 2017 Global Service Provider of the Year further solidified our strong reputation. It was such an honor for me to be there to accept on behalf of our team.

The best part – we’re just getting started. We’re constantly on the lookout for the next chance to be flexible and responsive to the demands of digital transformation. Speaking of flexibility –somewhere in the midst of those 22 convention floor miles, my shoelace snapped and I had to swap out my dress shoes for the green Converse sneakers our booth staff were sporting. This small (fashion) setback turned into an opportunity. My new differentiators drew comments and started conversations everywhere I went. Note to self for next time.

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