In case you hadn’t heard, CRN is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. We take great pride in the achievement, and we’re planning several surprises to mark the occasion.
We gave a sneak peak at a couple of those projects at the recent XChange Solution Provider 2012 conference in Los Angeles. We’re planning to recognize two special groups: 30 IT executives who have been the business for at least 30 years (30 Peers With 30 Years) and 30 channel leaders who are still on the right side of turning 40 (30 In Their 30s).
I sat down with nearly 20 of those honorees at XChange to record video interviews that will appear on crn.com later this year. It was a good mix of the older group and the younger group, and of people I’ve known for many years but had never met in person. I’m not going to play spoiler and tell you who’s on either list (check back at crn.com later this month for that), but I will tell you that we asked everyone the same questions and also did some word associations and got some real interesting results.
As you might expect, the range of answers and opinions differed greatly between the two generations of executives. A case in point: Among the questions we asked was one concerning the first IT device each executive owned. The 30s crowd tended to cite various laptops or desktops — thankfully, we didn’t get anybody who said iPod or cell phone; that would have made me feel really old. Contrast that to one older gentleman who has been, shall we say, around the block. He reached in his pocket and took out some original IBM punch cards from the ’70s. First “IT device” indeed.
“You can still use ‘em to write on,” he said proudly.
Another question we posed was what has stayed the same during the channel since the beginning of their careers, whether it was 35 years or five years. Many people answered that forging strong relationships never goes out of style. And that’s true.
But there’s another thing I noticed after sitting under the studio’s bright lights for two days: the great passion that drives the success of the IT channel also spans multiple generations. In at least a couple of cases, the 30s crowd began their technology careers while in their teens: building PCs and writing code. To a person, the Generation Next channel executives gushed on about their love of technology, of helping customers, of solving business problems. Just like the older crowd.
OK, so those in their 30s didn’t what know channel assembly means and they’d never heard of an IBM Medallion. What they did know, however, was how cloud and mobility are changing not just the way we work but the way we live. They talked about mentoring the generation coming after them and taking technology to even greater levels. They talked about how much they learned from their bosses and professors and parents. They have listened.
So rest easy, all you long-timers with a little more salt and a little less pepper. When the time comes, you’ll be leaving the channel in good hands.