November 17, 2020
Twenty C4 members and guests participated in a discussion that focused on financial issues. The conversation also touched on the road ahead with more lockdowns and changing partner expectations. The following is a synopsis of the points raised.
The conversation started with President Corinne Sharp asking how organizations were developing forecasts and building out plans in the face of continuing uncertainty.
- The tone of the discussion was generally optimistic, but it was clear the current uncertainty had some members hedging their bets.
- “With the drug companies signaling a vaccine is close, we can see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel,” said one member optimistically. That was quickly followed up by another member who agreed, but added, “Even once this is over, will there be a return to office towers? Will downtowns ever be the same?”
- As the pandemic forced many companies to advance their DX strategy, some members reported the last quarter was fantastic for those supporting the collaboration space. Those companies expect that growth to continue in the immediate coming quarters. Those without a foothold in the collaboration, mobile or security space, said they were predicting mixed results. If a business was depending on retail or hospitality 2021, it will not be a banner year, all agreed.
- More than one member reported that they expect the size of deals in 2021 to continue to be smaller with customers looking to tackle projects in bite-sizes rather than all at once.
- It’s tough to know how to scale and get in front of coming changes, when it is unclear whether the shifts in the market are permanent, reported one member.
Asked about how working with partners has changed or will change moving forward, the conversation included:
- Now is the time to skill up so everyone is prepared post-pandemic.
- There are more partnerships being created to deliver full-service packages.
- Partners are looking for more customizable solutions.
- Vendors are spending more time listening to the needs of partners.
- Financial support for marketing programs has been beefed up because the money for marketing within organizations has dried up.
On non-financial aspect of the future:
- There were mixed views on the eventual return to the office. Some members who used to pine to work at home, now believe it’s time to go back to an office environment – at least a few days a week. Others are quite happy with the new work-from-home posture and see their organizations as more efficient.
- There was a similar lack of consensus around the future of live events. “The first partner that does a live event in Vegas, will have the most successful offsite ever,” suggested one member. While there were some laughs and nodding of heads, others countered that they didn’t think the appetite for in-person events would ever return as virtual meetings have attracted exponentially more people at a lower cost. “I think people are getting pretty used to virtual conference… There may be some small group situations for the interaction people crave, but I think the extravaganza conference is dead.”