As the 8x8 channel-first strategy continues to build momentum and we grow our partner programme, we hit pause and caught up with a key member of our channel team, Steve Ferriday.

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

I’ve worked in the channel for more than 20 years and previously worked with Gamma heading up their hosted sales channel. I joined 8x8 two and a half years ago as Partner Enablement Manager for EMEA, focused on supporting our channel partner community with sales enablement, technical, and lifecycle training.

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

That’s a very easy one to answer; partners, partners, partners! I’m in my element meeting and sharing knowledge and experience with the channel; laser-focused on results, my ultimate aim is to help them grow their cloud communications business with confidence.

Another highlight is the 8x8 culture. I feel empowered to challenge the status quo and work in a very supportive environment where my well-being and career development are central to our values.

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

Having spent the past 20 years as a road warrior, I’ve really enjoyed spending quality time with my family. I’ve also walked over 350 miles in the last 3 months, including completing the’ Yorkshire Three Peaks’ challenge through my newfound love for walking!

From a business perspective, it's been the busiest time of my life - with the introduction of Virtual Instructor-Led Training. Partners have taken the opportunity to refresh and upskill their sales and support teams with a recording-breaking 500+ students in attendance over the past 12 weeks!

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

Ahead of COVID-19, 8x8 was growing rapidly, with many of our existing and new channel partners focused on expanding their UC portfolio. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated this trend, with the channel requiring the rapid deployment of cloud communications to enable remote working for their clients.

There will be a more sustained shift to working from home for many months to come. The concept of office workers may never return, with many businesses considering a move towards a fully remote workforce, but with the guarantee of a secure, scalable, and capable cloud communications provider.

8x8: What's the next big thing in the cloud communications space?

We’re seeing some new players enter the UCaaS Gartner Quadrant, offering solutions that support a more remote working business model; I expect to see many more enter as competition intensifies.

With the shift from on-premise PBX to an all-encompassing single cloud communications platform, technology purchasing may also become increasingly complex and fragmented. I believe clients will look for a more simplified cloud communications solution and move towards a single vendor strategy that can serve and adapt to their needs quickly.

Finally, with changing customer patterns and demands, we will see more and more digital communication channels go mainstream such as SMS and video, enabling organisations to connect with customers on their terms.

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

Integrity (with passion).

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

Throughout my teens (which I vaguely remember), I swam for Great Britain and held several British Junior records. I trained with the likes of Adrian Moorhouse and Mark Foster, which has helped give me focus on achieving my goals.

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

Stephen Fry - genius and very witty.

Freddie Mercury - all-time best showman and entertainer.

Gino D'Acampo - Hilarious, but I also need someone to cook my dinner.