The former president of Graycon IT and vice-president of IT services at Ricoh is banking on a decade-worth of sales and channel experience to help him succeed as Jolera Inc.’s new chief revenue officer, a role created specifically for him, he said, so he can help the service provider expand its footprint in Canada and the U.S.
“They’ve done a great job so far, but I think we’ve only just scratched the surface in Canada,” said Chris Black. “And the U.S. is wide open.”
The multi-national technology hybrid aggregate service provider (HASP) announced the appointment of Black last week, noting they want to see him expand its list of partners and customers using their services that currently range from customized solutions and IT assessments, to IT device and infrastructure management, data backup and recovery.
Jolera CEO Alex Shan said Black will “add a dynamic to the team that we have been lacking.”
“Our business is a little top heavy in Ontario, so we want to extend our leadership capacity out west,” Shan told CDN, adding Black will develop synergy between Jolera reps and partners across Canada. “We also have a massive mandate for growth in the U.S. for the next 12-18 months.”
It’s an ambitious goal, said Black, but it’s part of the reason why he said yes to the job offer. He cited one of the many conversations he had with Shan months prior, when Jolera’s long-term plans were revealed to him. Rapidly doubling down on managed services and recurring revenue models on a global scale sounded overly ambitious, but Shan assured Black that Jolera was up to the challenge.
“It was an interesting discussion,” said Black, noting he had no interest in leaving Graycon at the time, but once the opportunity presented itself, it was difficult to turn down. “The opportunity to help transform an industry, work with my many friends across the channel, and help them transform their business in order adapt to the changes and unique needs of their customers was a tough thing to pass up.”
Speaking to the changes the Canadian partner community is facing, Black said it’s a challenge best approached collectively.
“We’re seeing margin compression on every product you sell, you’re making less on every switch, server and every deal than you did in the past. Whether it’s Cisco, HP or Barracuda, they’re making less on every product as well. Part of that is the cloud, but it’s also because the barrier to entry for creating great products is now lower than ever, and software is redefining customers’ decisions. It’s hard for companies to admit this. Jolera can serve as the back end engine for delivering this set of services for customers. And in Canada, it really offers partners a competitive edge without the risk.”
Black’s qualifications also have a lot to do with his exposure to the oil and gas industry and the “boom and bust” cycles it comes with.
“Oil inevitably crashes, we’ve gone through those cycles many times, but it’s during the bust cycle when one requires a keen eye on business outcomes that you can validate through financial models,” he explained. “In the West, we’ve been forced to look at different ways at managing risk for a while.”