Tech Data (TD) kicked off its semi-annual Channel Link conference April 9 at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino in Connecticut, where the company made several big partner announcements. In addition, a number of Tech Data execs spoke at length about preserving and increasing the company’s momentum within the channel, and how they plan to help drive innovation through their channel partners. Check out our round up on everything you need to know from Day 1 below.

General Session: Empowering Resellers through Innovation
Tech Data’s president of the Americas Joe Quaglia kicked off the general session with a lengthy introduction, commemorating the company’s 40th anniversary in the IT channel with a look back on its origins. Quaglia put a big emphasis on the importance of partner relationships in Tech Data’s success throughout the years.

SVP of Marketing Brian Davis played host to the day's sessions, putting an emphasis on how Tech Data is working with partners to empower to drive innovation at every step of the distribution process. Davis used Gartner’s “Nexus od Forces” theory to illustrate the importance of creating a unified distributor/partner relationship, and added a nice burst of pop-culture to the proceedings with the image of DC Comics’ Justice League to illustrate the importance of effective collaboration.

Next, Davis brought Karine Elsen, director of Strategic Partner Marketing at Cisco Systems (CSCO) to the stage to discuss changes in the customer purchasing journey through the proliferation of mobile and cloud-based IT. Elsen and Cisco Marketing Manager Bradley Sawchuck showed off the Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX), a new solution developed to drive retail customer engagement by utilizing Wi-Fi data mined from smartphones.

To cap off the general session, Good Technology CEO Christy Wyatt took the stage to discuss the importance of mobile security in a BYOD world and how careful data management and corporate policies are the key to maintaining enterprise security. Earlier this week, Tech Data announced it had added Good Technology to its Tech Data Mobile offerings in an exclusive North American distribution deal.

'Discovering the Power of Public Relations' with Amanda Lee - Business Development Course
Tech Data’s public relations specialist Amanda Lee held a business development course for resellers interested in learning about the importance of developing relationships with the media. Lee noted, the most important things a vendor can do to drive media coverage are to be proactive in their outreach to the media, and to establish themselves as experts within the channel. Lee wrapped her session by encouraging vendors to pursue local and trade media by providing them with clear, accurate and consistent messages that they want to see in print.

Women in the Channel Luncheon
Tech Data also held its Women in the Channel Luncheon, where influential women within the IT channel shared their success stories and offered advice on ways to grow in a predominantly male-dominated industry. Sandy Rouse, founder and CEO of mobile device case designer Eco Style, and Good Technology's Wyatt headlined this year’s event. Both women spoke of the inherent difficulty of balancing family life with their professional lives, and told attendees the key to success is believing in themselves and having a passion for what they do.

Terry Hedden: Cloud IT Guru - Business Development Courses
Terry Hedden of the Cloud IT Guru spoke to VARs during two of his business development courses, both of which involved helping resellers to grow their cloud businesses through marketing and develop recurring revenue models. Hedden left the audience with two important takeaways: Marketing should be approached as a marathon and not a sprint, and to succeed, resellers must make a successful transition to the managed services model.

And so the sun sets on the first day of Channel Link. Keep it tuned to the VAR Guy as Tech Data’s conference enters into its second and final day April 10. Expect updates throughout the day.