This year Odin (formerly Parallels) changed the format of the previous Parallels Summit shows for a more intimate, smaller, yet high-quality attendee conference. The show was hosted in Seattle not far from their HQ in Renton, WA. I was excited to attend the show for three main reasons, (1) connect with several customers, prospects, and industry folks, (2) meet with Odin to learn more about APS2 module development, and (3) reconnect with my eNom.com colleagues (when I was at eNom, I lived in Seattle, WA for 5.5 years). Happy to report I was able to achieve success in all three categories! So, lets review the highlights.
As part of our launch plan, I knew we had to build several modules to ensure that Resellers of all types could adopt Weebly. We have already launched a CPanel plugin and our WHMCS plugin will be ready by the end of May. The next stop was an Odin module. My main question was should we build both a Plesk module and an APS module? Both could be necessary because historically most shared hosts used Plesk as their main control panel. However, as Odin evolved, they introduced APS and there seemed to be wider adoption of this platform by both hosts & telcos. In the keynote session, Birger highlighted the new features + user flow of APS2. It was great to see the new direction Odin is heading in driving cross-sells and easier automation. My biggest take-away from the keynote, chats with Odin, and attendees in general is that we should focus on the APS2 module. Over time, if we see larger demand in our channel specifically for Plesk, then we can turn our focus to building a Plesk module. But for now, it is clear to me that APS 2 is the long term platform and big partners like Ingram Micro are already running their cloud marketplace on it. Another great takeaway from the event was learning about all the various vendors out there that are doing APS development on behalf of Odin. Lots of good options for VARs should they not have the staff to build the module on their own.
2. Partner focus
Odin is definitely ratcheting up the partner focus. The new format of the show is a big sign of this new approach. Smaller crowd but lots of focus from Odin on the needs of ISVs, VARs, etc. As someone that is building our own Reseller network, I share the same philosophy about taking great care of our key reseller partners. Odin is going beyond just supporting these key accounts. They are very focused on their customer's product feedback, usage of APS, problems they see in the channel, and suggestions for improvement. It sounds like an obvious approach - but most companies can't execute on this type of laser focus on key resellers. I definitely want to incorporate this customer philosophy in our approach to Reseller development, growth, and support. Another key observation is how this focus is shared at the very top by Birger down through the entire organization. For those of you who know me, you know I am crazy about providing excellent service to partners. My stretch goal here would be to host a Weebly Reseller event at some point.
3. Industry feedback
In my discussions with various industry folks, there was one major common denominator - improving the upsell. This was a constant topic in the hallway conversations. It makes sense. Look at the profile of these companies in attendance - large shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud focused companies. Hosting and managed services is their core focus. Upselling to them is enabled through control panels like APS2. Thus improvements in the sophistication, intelligence, and ease of upselling in to these panels, is critical. Everyone is looking to increase ARPU. The panel has become a critical tool for success now -- it is definitely no longer a "nice-to-have". In my last Weebly for Hosts blog post, I talked about how we are going expose "Elements" to our Resellers so they can upsell their own products in the Weebly editor. Our goal here is to better enable our Reseller partners to sell more VAS and make their customers more "sticky". Just like APS, we also believe that when a customer is in the Weebly editor, this is an excellent opportunity to present highly relevant value-added services. These conversations reinforced my belief that we are going in the right direction by offering this functionality to our channel. I even more excited our Elements launch in 2015.
In summary, it was a great show. My best achievement was that I got a selfie with Michele, Blacknight. Now who would've guessed that was possible!