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Who joined us in Vegas this March? And what did they think? Access the post-show report >>

Channel Partners 2024 Contact Center Sponsor 8x8 Outlines Its Pre-Show Message


Michelle Paitich, 8x8: Interview Transcript 

Craig: “All right. Hey again, everyone. Channel Futures Editorial Director Craig Galbraith here. Looking forward to the upcoming Channel Partners Conference and Expo and MSP Summit, March 11th through the 14th at the Venetian Las Vegas. Got a great chance today to talk with Michelle Paitich, Global Vice President of Channel Sales at 8x8.”

“8x8 is the official contact center sponsor of CP Expo. Michelle, how are you?”  

Michelle: “Hey, I'm great, Craig. So good to be here with you today. Thanks so much for having me.”

Craig: “Yeah. Thank you for 8x8 sponsorship. We certainly appreciate it. So Michelle, let's talk a little bit about you at first, your background and how you've been spending your first few months on the job at 8x8.”

Michelle: “Absolutely. So I started in operations, actually, before I even got into working in partnerships, and I think that helped me really think about what it takes for partners to be successful. How to think about not only partnerships, but partner programs and everything that goes into not only building and managing teams, but then watching those scale and grow over time.” 

Finding the ‘Fun’ in the Channel

“So for me,  I started in ‘partner land’ at Salesforce working with ISV partners. And that's when I first really got a sense of. Working with partnerships and how the market opportunity expands exponentially; how customer success increases, how innovation increases  when you have such a focus on partnerships.”

“And  I found that so compelling. So I built out a partner success team there and managed the ISV partner program as well. And from there, I had a chance to go to Twilio and be a part of building out not only the partner team, but you know, the partner portal, recruiting our partners across a number of different types. So ISVs and technology integration partners, SIs, resellers, even BPOs.”

“And in my last role there, I was managing the contact center Partner team, which was a lot of fun. And I, this is part of why I love being in the partner space. There's always more to do, and I find that really, really fun and being here, that is what I've found.”

“So I've been on the listening tour for the last few months, really taking in what partners are saying to us around how they view the opportunity with eight by eight where they see them wanting to grow their businesses with us. And what's really cool for me is what brought me here is the same thing that is compelling to our partners.”

“So I joined because of the vision and the leadership at 8x8. I joined because of our product innovation and because partners are really embedded across everything we do here. And our partners feel the same way. So that's been incredibly validating as I'm having these conversations with them.” 

Craig: It's fun. It definitely is. So Michelle, talk about some of the major technology innovations that you referenced, integrations and so forth – those innovations and integrations that you had with an 8x8?”  

Michelle: “Yeah, thanks so much for asking. It's a really exciting time for me to be at 8x8.”

“And also I think for our partners in the conversations that I've been having with them when I'm thinking about the platform and everything that we can do, honestly, the questions are: ‘yes, - that’s great, and more of that,’ ‘what's next?’, ‘what's on the horizon?’. And so that's something that's really important to us is keeping partners a part of everything we do.”

Shift in Communication Technologies

“We are definitely seeing that, while there's a focus on UC and there's a focus on contact center, we're seeing that shift and we're really seeing the unified, integrated platform being really compelling for our partners.” 

“It's a single experience and we're simplifying these workflows, both for them and for their customers. But in addition to all of that, and in addition to a lot of the things that we're working on on our roadmap, one of the other really cool things that partners are asking for is they want to do more with our ‘sell with 8’ partners with our technology partners, which we recently announced. And so our channel partners are really wanting to do more with that and more with those partners.”

“But that's part of what I think about when I think about a really robust partner ecosystem. We've got multiple types of partners, and so how do we surround 8x8 with this ecosystem where not only they're working with us, but they're working with each other. And that accelerates all that innovation.” 

“Our partners also have a huge focus on AI. And so with our intelligent customer assistant, that really enables them to bring AI into all the work that they're doing with their customers.” 

Partners Are Built Into the Corporate DNA

Craig: “Yeah. So let's talk about partners and the ongoing partner focus that you guys have and the importance of the relationship with partners and how you're doing that well.” 

Michelle: “Yeah.  Partners are truly a part of the corporate DNA here, which is, as a partner person is delightful to see because you and I are talking to people all the time. And when you're in this space, we're so accustomed to the value to customers and to partners and to technology vendors when we all work together. So that's been huge. And as we go into channel partners, our number one focus is really around customer engagement and continuing to have those conversations with partners.”

“It's very important to me and to the team to ensure that in everything we do and in everything we build partner feedback is. The driver for what we do here. I mean we don't need to dictate any of that. But what we want to ensure is that we're building a framework for our partners in every region to have the tools that they want for how they want to grow their businesses.” 

“And so we're really dedicated to that. And that means really deep collaboration with our field sales organization. That means continuing to do the great enablement that we've been doing. They continue to want more of that. And as we're doing all of this, it helps us get them integrated across the entire sales funnel.”

“So partners that are coming have, we have a lot to talk about because not only is it how we're setting ourselves up internally to align with our partners but also to ensure that we are building and defining that collaboration together for how we want to work with our customers and kind of take the temperature of what our partners are talking about and wanting to focus on this year, next year, five years. I mean, we're talking about what we do today, but also where we want to grow with our partners long term.”  

Craig: “Absolutely. So let's take that a step further. You mentioned enablement and working with partners long term, any upcoming changes or improvements to the 8x8 elevated partner program that partners can look forward to?” 

Michelle: “Yeah, so we're in the throes of this right now, which is a lot of fun work. I did mention the regional differences; so we're adapting, some of those things. We are aligning some support structures with teams internally, which includes, go-to-market organizations as well as other supporting teams.”

“So I think that's going to be really compelling. And then the enablement piece, I think, is a really big one. So we've been focused on that in the past, but partners are really focused on that as well. So we want to continue to drive that forward in the ways that not only partners want to get that information but ensuring that we're up to speed with all the innovation that the product organization is doing.”

“We want to stay ahead of that as well so that our partners are ready to go before a product is launched.”

Partner Engagement Hour and Expo Lounge

Craig: “Absolutely. Fantastic. So, Michelle, let's take it back to the event here. How can partners meet and find you guys and interact with the 8x8 team at Channel Partners 2024?”  

Michelle: “Yeah, absolutely. First of all, very excited to see you and our partners there and meet new partners who we might not be working with yet.”

But we have an opportunity to do so. We will have a huge lounge area. And we'll have a meeting space. So in addition to those things, we're going to do a partner engagement hour, all of which are great opportunities to come talk with us to meet the team.”

“We really want partners to be a part of what we're doing and building. So my invitation is: be a part of the story, we're writing new chapters, and we really want partnership to do that with us. Nothing is more important to me than establishing and continuing to build that trust with our partners.So I'm still going to be on a listening tour. That's why I want partners to come and talk to us.  This is the chance to be that voice and everything that we do next. So we all know that Channel is built on relationships, and that's where we're looking to double down. Come talk to us. Come talk to me. Say hi. Really looking forward to it.” 

Craig: “Love your enthusiasm. You're getting me even more pumped up, Michelle. Thanks for joining me today on Channel Futures TV and for 8x8's continued sponsorship of Channel Partners Events. We appreciate it.”

8x8, Channel Partners Conference & Expo