Global Technology Solutions Partner

Upcoming Trends in the IT Industry, Sustainability in Remote Teams & Much More: In Conversation With Janet Schijns

The IT industry is bustling with new advancements and tech innovations. Some of them are of such a high-impact nature that one can’t predict if they’ll plateau in the coming years or turn the entire industry upside down.
To understand the same, we connected with Janet Schijns, CEO and Co-founder of JS Group. Read further to know what she has to say.
Expert Q&A session with Janet Schijns

About Janet Schijns

Janet Schijns is CEO and Co-Founder of JS Group, a go-to-market acceleration firm dedicated to achieving results in the Channel Megacosm. She serves on the Board of Directors for AvePoint, and Ninjio and regularly advises top technology firms on their go-to-market. Janet is a top 10 CEO Disruptor 2021, Top 10 Women in Technology 2020, 2021 (Analytics Insights), Top 50 Technology Influencers 2020, 2021 (Awards Magazine), Top 50 Channel Influencer (Channel Futures) and was named Channel Influencer of the year in 2019 beating out a slate of nominees from the top tech firms in the world, she has been in the top 5 influencers every year for the past decade. She was formerly EVP and CMSO at Office Depot and before that, she was the Chief Channel Executive, and Chief Marketing Technologist and ran business products for Verizon. Additionally, Janet ran the channel organization for Motorola Enterprise and Government and is noted and admired channel expert in the industry regularly appearing on the main stage at a variety of events.

1. What trends do you see coming up in the IT industry? And what are you most bullish about?

We are exiting the era of pure technology innovation and entering the era of go-to-market innovation – the winners in the IT industry will be those not with the “best tech” but the firms with the best go-to-market. The first big trend in this regard, in the IT industry, is the formation of new ecosystems and new approaches to ecosystems. These ecosystems are forming to complete, accelerate, and simplify technology solutions to work better for end-user customers. These ecosystems are changing what was an old school “channel” approach of resale and agent sales into a more multifaceted and multi-partner reality where many of the partners who are engaged will be influencers, creators or engagers but not transactional. This will bring an entirely new generation of not only solutions but also sales approaches to the IT industry. Smart firms will embrace this new reality and ensure their teams as well as their channel plans are evolving to meet the market. The second big trend we are seeing in the IT industry is embracing the change in the economic situation globally and launching new strategies to ensure success in that new reality. This includes new pricing strategies, enhanced go-to-market approaches, innovative demand generation programs, and an evolution of how solutions are sold by segment by geo. Here at JS Group, we are seeing a seismic change in firms that are chasing fast growth and profits in 2023 and beyond by focusing on their go-to-market strategy and resultant tactics.

2. We are particularly intrigued by your experience providing the most advanced platform for SaaS and data management. Can you shed more light on how you do that?

My personal experience is all around helping take a pure technology play platform and enhancing it to ensure that the technology can be sold, adopted, and profitable. It is interesting how often the best technology fails because of these elements. In a nutshell, we chase down all the processes, right sales profiles, and go-to-market experiences and then knit those into a full platform strategy – that’s the secret to succeeding in taking an invention (application etc) to market.
And how has that changed after the pandemic?
Post the pandemic the rules have changed overall regarding how you take technology to market. Old approaches such as face-to-face sales meetings, legacy relationships, complex ordering processes, and user or seat pricing etc…..are no longer working. This takes a new more holistic and innovative approach now that the world is going into a new normal.

3. As a Board member of AvePoint, how have you seen remote work and distributed teams affect the standard operating procedures? Do you think remote teams are sustainable?

First of all remote teams and hybrid teams are the future – period. The most talented workers have spoken and want the flexibility and the geographic freedom that comes from not having to report to a work location daily. This impacts every standard operating procedure and tools are needed to ensure that remote teams are secure, productive, and able to collaborate. This is where I am so thrilled to be part of the AvePoint board as the teams at AvePoint work to organize the defacto standard Microsoft Teams to deliver for remote and hybrid work environments. Taking Teams, Groups, Sites, and Communities and making them easily accessible and able to keep the business running has been a key no matter where you work. Layer on top of that the change in security needed for remote work and you can see where the Ave Point solutions are helping firms respond and manage through this new normal.

4. What are some challenges you see that might limit a distributed remote-first model?

Remote first is not without challenges, particularly in creating a high-functioning teaming culture. Driving that culture (or any positive culture) remotely is one of the biggest challenges we see leaders struggling with. Having the right tools to collaborate and work together is one of the answers to that challenge but creating a team bond is the other and that is harder to do when the teams are remote. We see firms invest in onsite events, team-building events, and other “meet-ups” as a way to band-aid the issue but now that travel is more open, and people can get together more easily this is just a bandaid. Truly the entire process of how the team works has to change to be successful with a fully distributed and remote workforce and that’s the challenge that many of our clients are working through now.

Wrapping Up:

We couldn’t agree more with Janet when she emphasises that companies with the best tech aren’t the ones winning but rather those who have the best go-to-market strategy. Janet also sheds light on how leaders need to turn to better tools and techniques to navigate their way through remote working. This Expert Q&A was an insightful one with a lot for everyone to take away. We hope you found the Q&A just as enthralling as we did.

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