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Experts’ Corner: Interview with IT Channel Oxygen Founder, Doug Woodburn

By March 14, 2024No Comments

According to analyst firm Canalys, IT technologies and services delivered through partners comprised over 70% of the global total addressable IT market in 2023. In cybersecurity, this figure is even more pronounced, with total cybersecurity spend through the channel accounting for an enormous 91.5%, demonstrating the critical role the sector plays in  the survival of countless companies worldwide.

For the channel, staying abreast of industry transformation is crucial for success. Enter IT Channel Oxygen, an exciting new platform with a mission to track the UK IT channel and its sustainable transformation. Since its launch last year, it has offered members free access to premium content, encompassing market reports on the UK’s IT solutions providers and distributors, alongside insightful interviews with industry-leading CEOs and commentators.

In an exclusive interview with Doug Woodburn, Editor of IT Channel Oxygen, we delve into why the former Group Editor for CRN UK felt the need to launch a site, and what sets it apart from other titles, and Woodburn’s goal to become the most trusted source of high-quality news and information for the UK IT channel.  

When asked why he launched IT Channel Oxygen, Woodburn shared the unconventional reason; “I am hopeless at job interviews. It was an elaborate way of avoiding having to do any. There was also a clear gap in the market for a fresh, editorially-focused title dedicated to the UK IT channel and  its sustainable transformation. Launching Oxygen seemed like the obvious answer.”

Discussing the site’s mission, he said it was; “To be the one website UK IT channel professionals visit to keep tabs on what is actually happening in their industry.”  

“Editorial is the heartbeat of the business”

Given the strong foothold of competitors like CRN and Microscope, Woodburn explained the challenge was to produce content that distinguished itself within the industry. He continued, “Someone once described Oxygen as the channel’s answer to the Huffington Post – I’ll definitely take that. I wanted to show that it’s still possible to have an IT channel title where editorial is the heartbeat of the business, not in thrall to sales, marketing or events. Our mission is to elevate the level of information and content available to channel pros.” 

“We have a big focus on market data like Oxygen 250 – our rundown of the UK’s top channel partners by revenue), and Big Interviews with partner CEOs. We also get the odd exclusive,” continues Woodburn. “Topic-wise, we will cover whatever the partner CEOs find interesting and are talking about. In 2024, this means sustainable transformation, GenAI, and recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent, among other things.”

Targeting the C-Level

Talking further about the site audience, he mentioned; “Our target reader is very much partner CEOs and C-suite. Looking at our over 2,300 registered ‘members’, 46% work for IT resellers, MSPs or consultancies, 18% for vendors, and 22% for distributors and channel services providers. Probably the stat I’m most pleased with is that 41% of all the above are C-suite.”

Seizing the channel opportunity 

Having access to numerous influential figures in the channel sector, Woodburn is well-positioned to discuss the industry’s specific themes and trends. He notes, “Sustainable transformation is the big one. Despite some backsliding from the government, net zero and decarbonisation has become a mainstream topic for the IT channel in 2024. It’s important to partners and their end-user customers. That’s why IT Channel Oxygen is all over this topic.”

What does he see as  the most prevalent misconception about the channel? “That its salad days are behind it. Industry stalwart Phil Doye put it quite nicely when I interviewed him last month, noting that IT is either the first, second, or third biggest spend line of every organisation on the planet. The amount organisations are spending on IT is only going to grow, and the channel will be the major beneficiary.”

With the industry gradually regaining its confidence in networking again, we asked about the essential events for the channel sector. He remarked, “For me personally, I will probably only ever attend events where I feel everyone from the channel will be there. Canalys Forums is the big one I’d name check, although Marc Sumner is causing a bit of a stir with his Channel Chat Live events.”

How to contribute to IT Channel Oxygen

Highlighting the significance of grabbing readers’ attention while curating content from contributors, Woodburn stresses the value of originality, stating, “It all boils down to eyeballs on the page. The main question I ask myself is: will it get read by hundreds, if not thousands of channel professionals? If the answer is ‘no’, we pass it over. Also, you won’t see us regurgitating press releases – we like to give things our own spin.”

However, the platform is also actively seeking partnerships, with a distinct approach. “We are 100% inbound when it comes to commercial partnerships. Despite only launching in July, we are close to saturation point, which shows just how well the concept of Oxygen is resonating with the channel.”

IT Channel Oxygen has emerged as a breath of fresh air for the UK channel, offering a unique blend of editorial focus, insightful content, and a commitment to sustainability. As it continues to establish itself as a trusted source  among the channel, it’s evident that IT professionals are finding value in making IT Channel Oxygen a constant presence on their browsers.

To discuss how Eskenzi PR can help you get in front of the channel and engage the media that matter, please do get in touch.