This month, we caught up with Graham Kedzlie to hear his thoughts on all things channel, lockdown, and dining with celebs!

8x8: Can you give us a bit of background on yourself and what you do at 8x8? 

GK: I joined 8x8 just under two years ago as EMEA Director of Business Development, focused on managing our strategic partnerships and channel growth.

With 16 years experience in the channel, prior to 8x8, I spent 12 years at Gamma as Sales Director, helping them grow the Resale, SIVAR, and Microsoft channels across the UK.

8x8: What do you most love about your job?

GK: The people. It’s great to be working with so many like-minded professionals working towards one common goal, which is being the best channel organisation within our region. I love the endless levels of enthusiasm, passion, and experience within the team, making it a dynamic and fun working environment (even virtually!).

8x8: What’s been the best thing about working from home?

GK: Seeing more of my kids and saving 2 hours a day on commuting.

8x8: How do you think the channel is evolving / what trends are you seeing?

GK: The channel is fundamentally shaping the growth and uptake of UCaaS and CCaaS services across the UK. With intense competition, vendors need to adapt their business model. We need to pay closer attention to the needs of the channel and be prepared to listen and take action on these.

8x8 are leading the way with a world-class sales enablement team, a best-in-class portal called ‘PartnerXchange,’ and a product and professional services team like no other in the marketplace. 8x8’s ‘pure Wholesale’ strategy is enabling the UK channel to transition seamlessly to selling subscription-based services while maintaining historical margin levels for partners.

8x8:  What does 2021 hold for cloud communications?

GK: 2021 will be a phenomenal year of growth for the industry. The global pandemic has no doubt accelerated the move to cloud and we will start to see how companies adapt to the new normal in the next 6-12 months. It's fair to say things will never return to the way they were, but it will be interesting to see how companies strike a balance between home working and office/client-facing time. 

Compelling events such as the PSTN switch off in 2023, the explosive growth of Microsoft Teams, accommodating the demand for video services and the emergence of CPaaS will all offer new margin opportunities for the channel. This will allow channel partners to truly become “trusted advisors” to their clients.

8x8:  What one characteristic do you need to work in the channel?

GK: Empathy is a crucial component for anyone wanting to succeed in a channel role. 

Being able to look at the market through the partner lens drives high levels of growth, trust, and mutual levels of respect. For partners, it's all about the “so what?”, so taking time to understand their business and tailoring the engagement model around that will make a significant difference to the success levels of a partnership.

8x8:  What’s something most people don’t know about you?

GK: My first ever job was in a sports shop called ‘Sport and Ski’ in Maidenhead, Berkshire. My manager, Mike Ashley, who owned the store, eventually went on to own the Sports Direct Group and Newcastle Utd Football Club and is now a multi-billionaire!

8x8:  What piece of technology could you not live without?

GK: A bit cliché but ‘8x8 Work’. My whole working day revolves around the Work app. Video meetings, messaging, and chat, all driven through the brilliant 8x8 Work app.

8x8:  And finally, if you had to invite three famous people round for dinner, who would they be and why?

GK: Ricky Gervais – I’m a big fan of David Brent but equally enjoy Ricky’s direct, and often cringeworthy, sense of humour, particularly at the Oscars and Extras. He was ahead of his time when he wrote ‘The Office’, a comedy genius that would keep the conversation flowing around the dinner table.

Tiger Woods – one of the greatest sportsmen of all time.  Undoubtedly took golf to the next level through immense professionalism, commitment, and competitiveness. He would have some great stories - on and off the golf course.

Elon Musk – to revolutionise and disrupt a 100-year-old industry is a phenomenal achievement.  Also, to have the belief and confidence to back yourself to take space travel to the next level is equally as impressive. Elon is typically outspoken and often controversial – this would add an interesting dynamic to dinner table conversation!