10 minutes with Alex Walsh, Manager of Channels and Alliances, UK and Ireland at Veeam

What was your first job?

My first job in the tech industry was with AppSense. I started there in January 2013 as a Sales Executive for the Nordic region, managing marketing inbound leads, initial contact, qualifying and arranging webinars/on-site meetings for the Nordic Region Account Managers. This also included developing leads into tangible business opportunities.

How did you get into Channel marketing?

In November 2013 I moved into the Channel while working for AppSense as a Channel Development Manager. I was responsible for developing and managing the channel and solution partner engagements to help drive revenue in the Nordic Region. This included engaging with sales and account teams to find opportunities for new business, working hand-in-hand with partners through the entire sales process and keeping them up to date on new products, features, and our roadmap. I was also responsible for managing and maintaining relationships with our Distribution Partner, and creating business and marketing plans, along with regular pipeline and revenue reviews.

The biggest thing that’s changed in the industry since you started?:

By far the biggest change has been the relentless focus on digital transformation. The reality is that whatever the problem we and our partners are trying to solve for a customer, in the majority of cases this ladders up to digital transformation. Whether it’s around the deployment of cloud and collaboration technologies, or the need to better protect critical applications and data, it all comes back to the fact that every business is consuming and deploying more digital services.

How has the pandemic changed your priorities?

The pandemic accelerated the world ‘going digital’ as the rise in homeworking and social distancing moved more transactions and conversations to digital channels. Businesses have become increasingly aware of how important their systems are, and especially just how valuable their data is. As a result, they’re more conscious of the threats to business continuity posed by legacy infrastructure, lack of robust data protection, cybersecurity measures, and poor digital hygiene. Ransomware in particular has become one of the biggest threats to UK businesses. The damage ransomware can inflict on businesses is staggering – in 2020 it cost UK businesses as much as £365m.

With all this in mind, we are dedicated to enabling our ProPartners to help customers modernise their data protection strategy. This means having a single platform for cloud, virtual, SaaS, Kubernetes and physical data management and protection, which extends beyond core backup and recovery. ​The reason this is so important is because enterprises can’t sustain the aggressive growth or increased need for greater customer intimacy without making this shift. Sooner or later, the cost and effort of maintaining legacy protection solutions will significantly impact production systems, and as such, the need for modern data protection now feels more pressing than ever.

Are you witnessing a skills shortage and difficulties recruiting people into the Channel? Why should young talent choose a career in the tech Channel?

While we’re not experiencing difficulties in recruiting ourselves, it is a clear issue in the wider tech industry. According to the Veeam Data Protection Report 2021, 44% of UK organisations say a lack of IT skills is one of the main barriers to making progress on their digital transformation plans.

At its core, successful digital transformation is dependent on data, and organisations are producing huge amounts of it every day. But without the right skills within the business to manage it effectively, this information will remain more of a burden and untapped potential rather than an advantage. For businesses to be able to close their digital skill gaps, they need to understand the technology that will best support work and also invest in skills and training to provide a strong foundation. 

When it comes to attracting talent into the channel specifically, we need to shout louder about how much fun it can be. In our industry, you get to work with such a variety of people and businesses while staying close to the latest technological innovations that help shape business and society. This career allows you to bring your personality into your work, and I’m a great believer that whatever you are doing, you should have fun doing it.

Tomorrow’s world: your prediction:

The big trend that’s already taking place – but will only continue to become more prominent – is the shift toward subscription-based models for buying things with more businesses adopting Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS). Yes, some organisations move more slowly than others and not absolutely everybody is ready for it, but most partners and end-users are embracing a more flexible, service-based approach to technology consumption.

At Veeam, we have been conscious to get ahead of this trend and have already been moving towards subscriptions for the past couple of years. As cloud services accelerate, businesses are increasingly keen to pay for the services they use rather than rack up bills for IT they don’t need. This reflects a long-standing trend towards an Opex (operating expenses) model which enables teams to use budgets more effectively, drive business value and create better efficiency. And as data grows in value and businesses become more data-driven, avoiding vendor lock-in is also a growing concern, as businesses need greater data portability. All this reflects a greater leaning toward innovation and keeping things simple, and we expect the data protection space to follow this trend, particularly as businesses’ backup, replication and disaster recovery requirements grow at scale.

Then and now- the one thing you wish you knew back then:

For me it’s quite simple – listen carefully to everything that you are told, good and bad, from people within the industry, customers and colleagues, regardless of how junior or senior they might be! There are always lessons to be learned no matter what position you get to within an organisation, which could help you to do a better job or respond to something in a better way.

Visit Alex’s LinkedIn profile here

Veeam® is the leader in backup, recovery and data management solutions that deliver Modern Data Protection. Veeam provide a single platform for cloud, virtual, physical, SaaS and Kubernetes environments.