Each year, our sister publication Computer Dealer News hosts the Channel Elite Awards to recognize IT Solution Provider for their innovation, leadership, and commitment for creating value for their customers. As Canada’s leading IT channel publication, CDN invited solution providers to submit their best work to nine different categories for 2013’s awards. Here, we present the case studies these award nominees put forward to us. Find out who the big winners are on Sept. 11 when CDN presents them at the CEA Awards Gala.

Learn more about CDN’s Channel Elite Awards 2013

Nominee: Gibraltar Solutions from Mississauga, ON

Describe the initiative

Gibraltar, Citrix and HP Networking hosted an End User event on May 29th at the CN Tower. Using CN Tower metaphorically, the event (Workshift to the Cloud) was designed to showcase the power of mobility in a Cloud Computing era. End Users were invited and treated to a breakfast at the Horizon Restaurant. After the breakfast, attendees were encouraged to work in the cloud with their computing device of choice. Experts from Gibraltar, Citrix and HP Networking were on site to demonstrate the latest mobile/cloud technologies and to also assist users with mobility issues.

What makes this initiative innovative or original?

Our event, Workshift to the Cloud, might have been the first of it’s kind (sponsored planned social engagement) to foster the creation of a community of highly mobile employees. Working with our Partners Citrix and HP, we wanted to create and host a community event to celebrate the era of Mobility and Cloud Computing. We believe advances in mobile and cloud computing technologies have fundamentally change the physical relationship of employees and their work environment. A workplace is no longer a fixed address on a business card. Instead, the address is fluid and made up of a set of “favorite” venues that is inspirational and convenient for the mobile employee. These venues include the office, neighbourhood coffee shops to restaurant lobbies. To illustrate the flexibility of the new workforce, Gibraltar, Citrix and HP hosted a complimentary breakfast and co-working session for mobile employees at the top of the CN Tower on May 29th, 2013. The Workshift to the Cloud event was a social success. We had over 40 mobile employees co-working at the event and sharing best practices with each other. Conversations span from cheapest place to park in Downtown Toronto to employee engagement best practices for Millennials. Consultants and engineers from all 3 companies were on hand to answer questions and help address issues attendees may have about mobile and cloud computing technologies. We also had a “hands on” demo environment setup at the back of the room for those interested in future mobile technologies.

Describe how this initiative was a benefit to the solutions provider and provide metrics to demonstrate it.

We have received an unprecedented amount of enquiries and kudos from attendees of the event. In additional to closing 2 professional engagement opportunities with a handful more in the pipeline, the event also generated 2 Press articles and numerous social mentions in Twitter. The fresh format of the event and the “social” interactions it generated is very unique and we think this made it memorable and ROI positive for attendees.

How did the solution provider strengthen its relationship with the vendor?

The unique nature of the event allowed us to tap into new marketing resources at HP and Citrix. In addition to the channel marketing team, we were able to leverage and had the pleasure of working with their product and corporate marketing personnel. In the case of HP, we tapped into their Networking Marketing Team which opened additional “doors” to help sponsor the event. With Citrix, we were able to work directly with their PR organizations to generate “buzz” with the media. After the event, both Citrix and HP have enthusiastically asked us to organize another similarly structured event.

What social media tools did you use for the initiative and how did this enhance it?

We used the strength of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to augment the traditional means of advertising this event. Historically, all Gibraltar organized event can be found on our website. Rounds of email invitations would be deployed followed by phone invites from our sales executives. We augmented this traditional setup with Event advertising in Facebook, consistent and sustain mentions in Twitter, LinkedIn and Google advertising blitzes. As an anecdotal story, a travelling executive (VP of Sales) based out of California saw our Facebook ad and registered for the event. In his registration signup form, he noted that he is not a client but would like to “check out” the event since he is in town for the day. This anecdotal story proofs the fluidity of the workplace that we find ourselves in today and the power of social media

In what ways did this initiative go above and beyond industry norms and expectations?

From the timeliness of the theme to the format of the event and the selection of the venue, we believe everything was just right. It was not a perfect event, by any stretch of the imagination. There are definite room for improvement from an execution perspective but the uniqueness of the event and the engagement of the attendees made it memorable for many people. It is for this reason we think this initiative exceeded the industry’s norm and expectation.

How does this solution further your customer’s green or environmentally friendly plans?

We hope the conversation generated at the event and subsequent Press coverage help to further educate the benefits of mobility and cloud computing to enterprises in the GTA. When done correctly, deployment of mobile and cloud technologies can increase corporate information security and governance, employee satisfaction, engagements and overall retention. It can also lower the cost of capital investment through subsidized BYOD programs, employee turnover. It will also reduce unnecessary commute allowing employees to work anywhere convenient and conducive for productive.

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