Trust X Alliance looks to expand public reach

Cathy Vankestren, vice president of Toronto-based End-to-End Networks

Cathy Vankestren, vice president of Toronto-based End-to-End Networks

Six months after revealing its new name, the Trust X Alliance is looking to reach deeper, within the solution provider community, but especially outside of the community.

At its spring gathering, the then-VentureTech Network announced its new name and image, an in so doing, said one of its major goals was to have a brand that better resonates outside the community.

“We felt that VentureTech was a well-known community, amongst ourselves and in the market. But when we went out to our customers to espouse the great things about the community, there was no resonance with the name,” said Cathy Vankestren, vice president of Toronto-based End-to-End Networks, and as of last week’s One Ingram gathering in Nashville, the Canadian co-president of the Trust X council. “We wanted to create more of an outwards-facing brand. Next year is about taking it to the street, expanding awareness of the brand inside and outside of the industry.”

Reseller communities have long been successful within the channel, and members describe their communities as crucial at building and shaping their businesses. But they have struggled in finding meaning outside of the solution provider world and articulating the value that membership in such a group will have to the end user customers who work with a member solution provider. Trust X is trying to break through that boundary with the introduction of an end-user facing Web site, trustxalliance.com, that explains to members’ customers and prospects what goes into being a member of the Alliance, and what customers can expect as a result of working with one or more Alliance members.

Vankestren said the group was also focusing on building deeper vendor relationships, both with new vendors to the community, as well as going deeper with existing vendor members. Creating greater alignment between vendor and solution provider members will help to get the Trust X name and brand out there “in the field,” she suggested.

While the group is hopeful that Trust X will be the solution provider community brand that “breaks through” and starts carrying weight in the end user community, neither the membership nor the sponsoring distributor think it’s going to be an easy or quick process.

“It’s a grass-roots approach right now,” said Nancy Stabile, senior channel development marketing manage at Ingram Micro Canada. “We’re making sure details are updated on our Web site and on member’s Web sites, but building a brand takes years. We’re not kidding ourselves — this is going to take years. But we’re off to a good start.”

Mark Snider, senior vice president of Ingram Micro Canada, points out that prior to the Trust X brand change, building customer awareness wasn’t a primary goal of the community. The group has often been described as a three-legged stool in the past, with members, Ingram, and vendors forming the three legs. Now, Trust X is clear, Snider said, that it will be more stable if there’s a fourth leg, the end user.

“This is the ultimate in member-led, where they’re putting together the name and the vision themselves as members,” Snider said.

Aside from the outreach to the general public, there are also many other changes taking place within the community. At One Ingram, the group introduced a slew of new benefits for members, including HR and payroll outsourcing, training and development, credit card processing, cyber security insurance, credit check services, criminal background checks, and asset disposition, all available at members-only rates.

The group also recently changed the structure of its leadership council to ensure that every chapter (currently, three Canadian chapters, seven US chapters, and one out of the UK) each have a seat at the council. This “United Nations” style council where all groups are represented will help communicate change, goals, and vision throughout the community, Snider said.

“Under the old structure, communications were a bit more difficult,” he said. “But the wa it’s put together now, we’re making sure everyone will be involved, and communications will flow more easily.”

The group also announced two vertical communities within the community, focused on public sector and healthcare, with about 100 members in those vertical groups. Those groups are U.S.-only at the moment, but Vankestren said that as the community recruits in Canada, vertical focus will be “a new scope” for members. And of course, there is always room for new members. Along with some natural attrition of group membership, this year has seen some consolidation, for example the merger of F12 Networks and Insite Computer Group, two Canadian members. As the nature of the channel, and therefore the community, changes, the group is also on the lookout to add different types of members. Yes, cloud-focused solution providers are obvious additions. But Vankestren suggested that solution providers focused on delivering complex business applications like ERP, CRM, and HR systems would also be a great fit in the new Trust X.

There were also hints that Trust X will continue to expand its geographic footprint, with a Brazilian chapter likely to join the group next year. Three years after the community’s first expansion outside North America, into the UK, that’s good news for Vankestren.

“The volume of activity and business running across the pond with Apollo Chapter members has been fantastic,” she said.

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Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at ChannelBuzz.ca. He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.

 

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