Winner of Channel Chief of the Year at this year's Channel Innovation Awards, High Wire Networks' Mark Porter opens up on running a channel network during COVID and coming out of the pandemic stronger.
What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
While it has been a challenging year, it has really been rewarding to see the way our leadership team, some of them relatively new to each other, banded together and did everything asked of them and in many cases, much more. They did it for the benefit of their teams, and for the good of the company. They truly embraced our core values.
What has been the biggest challenge for your business this year?
Like everyone else, we had to deal with the impact of COVID, but how we chose to deal with it ultimately was the "challenge". We chose not to curl up in a ball and wait for it to be over. Instead, we made the decision early on we would come out stronger, even if we looked very different. We added key players, we doubled down on the marketing, we focused our messaging, and we talked to our customers nonstop. We made difficult decisions to say goodbye to some team members. Making tough and sometimes bold decisions, giving those decisions time to work themselves out, and getting everyone to have faith that they would grow from acorns to oaks with so many variables out of our control, was extremely challenging.
How has COVID changed your business long term?
Long term COVID will have been a positive experience for us. We had a solid balance sheet going in, but most of all we have the best customers in the business, so we knew we'd pull through. The systemic change is that it forced a rather quick and significant transition of my day to day operational tasks to COO Charles Hughes, CISO Phil Burnett, and CTO David Barton. They all stepped up brilliantly and allowed us to laser focus on "one thing" that gets us to where we need to be. Here on out for the long-term VP of Sales Kim Stoltz and our Partner Success Teams can really accelerate knowing that each operational team is functioning with a high degree of accountability and trust. That will only make us stronger. This was established relatively fast.
What technology or app has been most valuable to you during the pandemic?
Our own Overwatch 24/7 platform technology. With the pandemic we saw an acceleration of cyber incidents around the world, and because we use all elements of our solutions, we were able to move all of our teams and systems to full remote without sacrificing security, controls, or functionality. To us, this was a large-scale test of our Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans, and they both worked extremely well.
What are your top predictions for 2021?
After this year, my crystal ball is a bit fuzzy, but I can hazard a few as it pertains to us. First, growth. We grew our channel base substantially this year. That will result in huge growth in '21. Second, improvement. We're going to improve our programs and aim to be the best 100% channel-driven company out there. We will make our programs better and we will work with partners to understand what they need. Third, change. There is no telling what that change might be at this point, but there will be change. Coming off the pandemic in early '21 and with a new President in the White House, there's no doubt we will see change.
What does it mean to you to win Channel Chief of the Year in this year's Channel Innovation Awards?
I am so thrilled to win this award. It means so much to me because this is only made possible by the achievements of our entire team. Our team is more than just the High Wire staff. It also includes our channel partners and any of our service delivery partners. They are all part of the team whether for 2 hours, 2 days, 2 months, or like our solutions architect Dave Hreno who celebrated 20 years at the company! This award is only possible because of all of them and what they do.