Equinix recently announced the creation of a new Global Channel Organization to better align our partner objectives and bring our partner ecosystem together across all regions. Under the leadership of Jules Johnston, our Senior VP of Global Channel, we have recently welcomed three new vice presidents of channel sales: Kevin Thames (AMER), Orla Ni Chorcora (EMEA) and Sophie Ben Sadia (Asia Pacific).
In this Q&A series, Kevin Thames – in conversation with Deirdre Crossan, Senior Director of Americas Partner Marketing– gives us an insight into how he embedded the Power of 3 approach to accelerate channel growth across the region and how he plans to take that forward in his new role.
Deirdre Crossan (DC), Kevin Thames (KT)
DC: Kevin, you’ve had a successful career at Equinix for 10 years. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey here and what you have learned along the way?
KT: I started out as an Account Executive (AE) with a focus on building our enterprise customer base. When I joined in 2011, we were doing the majority of our business with service providers and financial services companies – in fact, only 9% were enterprises.
In my mission to make enterprise a bigger slice of the pie, I learned that the fastest path to success with Fortune 500 companies is through partners. One of my favorite proverbs is “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” So that’s what I did.
We found the Power of 3 concept presented the best opportunity to grow our business and scale the enterprise effort. Whenever we work with three or more partners within an account, the timeframe in which we were able to create real solutions shortened significantly and the collective probability to win that business went up dramatically.
We applied this to create partnerships at scale across the US, and I’m proud to say that I went on to close the company’s largest ever channel deal. After seven years I was tapped on the shoulder to lead our partner sales effort. At its core, leading our Channel effort is about providing the programs, tools and resources needed for the Account Executives at our partners, alongside the Account Executives at Equinix to achieve success. And since I was once one of them, I never lose sight of that simple truth, and it is an honor and a privilege to be in service to them.
DC: You have been championing the idea of the Power of 3 since you were in Field Sales at Equinix. What potential do you see with it?
KT: When we talk to customers about their digital transformation needs, they tell us that there isn’t a company on the planet that can solve all their problems. So if we all agree that is the case, and I definitely do, it makes sense for us to partner up on their behalf. It is about collaboration and coordination so that the end user benefits from the teaming, the knowledge transfer and the solution we all bring together.
The AMER region has some excellent Power of 3 examples with partners such as Cisco, Microsoft, AWS, HPE, Dell, Google and Oracle, and any one of our NSP or MSP partners coming together on Platform Equinix® to deliver value for the end client. I believe it is still a huge area of untapped potential so one of my big goals is to have AEs in our partner community embrace the Power of 3 concept at scale.
DC: So the power of Equinix is ecosystems, can you tell us more about that?
KT: We are known to have an unmatched ecosystem, which at its core is a marketplace. If you take it to the digital world, and consider an example like a food delivery app. Without the restaurants that make the food that is ultimately delivered to your door, it’s just an app that sits on your phone. So it is very similar at Equinix. Our marketplace of over 1,800 NSPs and 2,900 cloud and service providers is what differentiates Platform Equinix.
DC: Equinix is making three big bets for Channel; what are they and how will partners benefit from them?
KT: Yes, the first is around enabling our partners with all the tools and infrastructure they need for success. For example, last year we overhauled our Partner Central Portal to bring resources into a single online destination. We also launched two new Partner Certifications to empower partners to offer consumption-based services and a new Partner Direct Quoting tool which allows them to quote without engaging Equinix at the early stages of the process.
Secondly, we are investing in developing partner-first products so that we elevate the experience and enable partners to sell the full portfolio of Equinix services.
Finally, integration into the platform. Our most successful partners integrate their services and go-to-market with the Equinix platform.
DC: Tell us something that not many people know about you.
KT: One of my favorite questions. I spent 10 years of my life working with a nonprofit organization as a camp counselor where we worked to restore dignity and hope to children, teens, and young adults who have been abused and/or neglected – empowering them to make good decisions and lead healthy, productive lives. I was honored to serve for several years as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. And every summer we took a group of kids to summer camp. It’s an amazing community of volunteers that supported them throughout their lives until they either go into the military, the workforce or into college.
We worked to provide them with life skills that taught them the three R’s: respect, responsibility, and resilience. And I’ve seen these simple truths impact their lives in profound and lasting ways. One of them, I call my little brother, got a full ride academic scholarship and graduated from Emory University, which is almost unheard of in this community. It has grown my heart tremendously. And I am still involved, I still love the organization.
DC: You are a co-founder of Equinix BlackConnect, tell us a bit about it and why was it important to you to get involved?
KT: It brings me great joy to be a part of Equinix’s BlackConnect as a member of the founding council, we recently celebrated our first-year anniversary. Over the last year we have focused on our three pillars, Expand, Empower and Elevate:
Expand: Look at ways we can bring more Black employees into Equinix
Empower: So that Black employees, just like every other employee, can confidently say that “I am safe, I belong, and I matter”
Elevate: Continue to invest in talent development while also bringing in more Black employees into leadership positions
Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging leads to better business outcomes and we have so much more in store, and I am excited to do my part.
DC: Are there any last messages you would want a partner in the AMER region to know?
KT: We have a stated goal from our CEO to do greater than 50% of our business through partners in the next few years. I would like our partners to take away four key points from that mission:
- We are aggressively activating the channel
- We will enable partners to sell more complete services
- We are shifting to a longer-term, channel-enabled mindset
- We are focusing on elevating the partner experience
None of this is possible without an amazing (world-class) partner sales team to meet you in the market, so I thank them for all they do to make our partners successful.
DC: That’s great Kevin, so why should a Partner bet on Equinix?
KT: Simply put, we are betting on you. With 50% of our business expected to come through partners in the next few years, only Equinix can deliver on the digital infrastructure needs of your customers. On Platform Equinix you can bring together all the right places, partners and possibilities to create the foundational infrastructure your customers need to succeed.
In closing, I just want to say I can’t wait to get out and meet as many of you as humanly possible! I am looking forward to great success alongside you in 2021.