What was your first job?

My first job was in Belfast, where I worked for a managed service provider and helped partners to take new services to market. I spent two years in the role focusing on creating more application-based services. Starting my career in a Channel marketing organisation helped me to realise that I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives in a solution-driven technology role. This led me to Cisco in 2016, where I then moved to AppDynamics shortly after its acquisition.

How did you get into the Channel?

I was always interested in the Channel. As is the case with many other vendors, our partners play such a critical role in the delivery of the technology and solution we build. Without them, we can’t begin to achieve the type of scale that is necessary to meet the range of organisations and industries that our solutions can cover. This is the place to really learn about the value we can bring to customers and so it made sense for me to be a part of it.

Best day on the job ever?

It’s hard to pin down a single best day as each project brings a new exciting dynamic. Naturally, working with a partner to bring a customer over to our platform will always be memorable. It’s not just because of the win but all the work that goes into it. It’s that moment we’ve been working towards. The culmination of hours of time spent pouring over data to understand the problems the customer is facing, whether it’s those painful war room scenarios or silos that disconnect teams trying to solve the same issues. Seeing their reaction when all the things fit into place, and we have delivered the best solution, is a rewarding experience.

Biggest change in the industry since you started your career?

The single biggest shift of my career has been the evolution and changing perception of the cloud, particularly within the Channel where there was initially, and rightly, some hesitation about the value it could bring. There was a lot of uncertainty around the benefits of this technology and many businesses struggled to understand how they could properly take advantage of the cloud. Early on, there wasn’t a lot of training or incentives for partners either, which added to the complexity. Now that things have matured, we are seeing incredible growth. This has been especially true over the past two years of the pandemic. There’s been a huge acceleration to cloud computing, and businesses are looking to make the most of the benefits from this rapid transition. And with this, there has been an increased understanding of the limitations of applying traditional approaches to managing IT performance, and this is a message that has resonated with both the channel and end customers. Now, many are recognising the value of more modern, comprehensive approaches to monitoring – with full-stack observability, businesses can get unified, real-time visibility of performance up and down the stack, from customer-facing applications through to core infrastructure, and across both legacy and cloud environments.

Best ever deal?

For me, the success of a deal is not determined by its size, but by the value that it adds to the partner and the project. Our sales methodology is based on understanding the customer’s business from end-to-end and spotting every opportunity to help them drive value from across their digital operations. AppDynamics recently implemented a solution with a partner at a major UK-based automotive company. I really enjoyed taking a deep dive into their processes and getting under the skin of the business, to help them overcome critical issues they were facing with their applications and dealership networks. The result was profound: they decreased incidents by 50% (allowing them to focus on their core business), increased the efficiency of their developers and significantly reduced their monthly cloud spend!

How has the pandemic changed your priorities?

It hasn’t changed my priorities so to speak, but I’ve made a more conscious effort to make time for the team and our partners, and find new ways to connect and build relationships outside of a formal meeting environment. It’s so important to maintain this, especially when travel and face-to-face meetings aren’t always possible. The same can be said for my personal life – it’s about making time for the people who matter most.

Are you witnessing a skills shortage and difficulties recruiting people into the channel?

The market is extremely competitive at the moment and I think everyone is competing for the best talent. AppDynamics is also growing quickly and expanding its portfolio which means we do have open roles. Part of the solution for solving the skills shortage is to ensure that we offer excellent career development and opportunities for existing colleagues to grow and expand their careers within AppDynamics and Cisco. This is an area I am passionate about.

Why should young talent choose a career in the tech channel?

As I found through my experience, the tech Channel is such a motivating environment, particularly early on in your career. It’s the partners, themselves, who bring innovations together and make sense of it for their customers, and this need to navigate technological complexity is only increasing. We’ve seen a three-fold increase in digital transformation projects and the demand for partners who can bring solutions to customers will continue to grow. Starting out in the channel is, therefore, a great opportunity to be part of a high-growth, high energy environment where you get to make a huge impact on the fortunes of a range of organisations.

Tomorrow’s world: your prediction?

It is so hard to predict what will happen in the future, but I am certain that there will be more data, more devices and higher customer expectations. To enable these trends to continue unimpeded, and to provide the flawless digital experiences that customers are coming to expect, we must ensure that businesses can continue to cut through data noise and make sense of spiralling complexity. This will allow the technological innovations of the future to deliver beyond our imagination. We have seen these trends before with virtual worlds, distributed manufacturing, and even the start of more democratised space travel. I’m really excited to see where this will take us next!

Then and now – the one thing you wish you knew back then?

I wish I knew the future price of Bitcoin! But more seriously, I would tell my younger self how important it is to think big! Once you understand that what you believe is “possible” is based on the knowledge and experience you have at any given moment, you can actively think beyond this and learn how to grow your ambition. If you can remove yourself from these constraints and think big – really big – you’ll be amazed at what can happen. For example, at the start of my career, I wouldn’t have thought that in 2022, there would be consumer space travel! 

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James Bradley is VP, EMEAR Partners at Cisco AppDynamics. James has over 14 years of experience working with partners to help them take new and innovative services to market. At AppDynamics, James is focused on enabling partners to improve profitability, increase revenue and differentiate their offerings.

Visit his LinkedIn profile here