Ingram Micro CIO: How VARs Should Pitch to CIOs
Ingram Micro is knocking down the wall between its internal IT department and external VARs. Mario Leone (pictured), CIO of Ingram Micro, is on the road telling VARs and MSPs how to pitch their services and expertise to CIOs. Here are the details.
Leone was on stage yesterday at the Ingram Micro Seismic Partner Conference in Dallas, where roughly 250 VARs and managed services providers are learning about new MSP and cloud opportunities.
Among Leone’s key points:
- Inflection points coincide with recessions: Leone pointed out that the recessions of 1974, 1990, 2001 and 2008 each involved technology inflection points — shifts from mainframe computing, minicomputers, distributed PCs and the Internet. His key point: Capitalize on inflection points and have a flexible IT model that scales up or down amid macroeconomic changes.
- Focus is shifting away from structured data (databases) to unstructured data (such as email). “Email remains the most strategic platform we have,” said Leone, but that doesn’t mean businesses need to run their own email platforms internally, he added.
- IT budgets are shifting. Previously, CIOs spent 30 percent of their IT budget on funding innovation and 70% on maintenance. Now, 35% of the budget goes to new funds for innovation (I assume this means research), 30% goes to funding the actual innovation (actual development) and 35% goes into maintenance, Leone said. (Note: The VAR Guy’s figures are correct, but our resident blogger needs to double-check the definitions tied to each figure…)
- The next wave of IT will involve HD video, cloud computing, security and mobility, Leone said.
- CIOs want service providers to (A) run day-to-day operations without downtime and impact to the business, (B) to deliver on financial targets with a variable cost model, (C) to execute strategic initiatives, (D) to define IS strategies and SLAs for platform management in a mixed on/off premise model and (E) to leverage new technology introductions.
- Basically, VARs should serve as a technology filter for their CIO customers. Filter out the noise and focus on targeted opportunities.
Also, Leone said, old IT questions and old IT myths are starting to die. But new ones are emerging. Among the old boardroom issues CIOs faced:
- IT is a Black Hole: Leone claims otherwise, based on the productivity boosts that IT can offer.
- IT does not have a customer focus: By hitting the road and speaking with VARs and customers, Leone says, he’s proving IT can have a customer focus.
- Should we outsource?: CFOs used to push hard on this, Leone said, but fully outsourcing causes you to lose sight of your business. “Full outsourcing or full-insourcing is probably a dieing breed,” said Leone. “It’s probably a mix going forward.”
- We don’t understand technology: CIOs are finally doing a better job of describing the value of technology to help businesses make informed decisions.
- Why do we spend so much time and money on IT?: What people think they spend is actually much less than what they actually spend on IT because of the convergence of voice, video and data, Leone said. But the IT spend is offset by productivity gains.
- Cloud computing – is it a solution to everything?: “Cloud computing will be an answer,” said Leone. “But cloud has to have a good business reason to use.”
Bottom Line, VARs need to (A) understand their customers’ businesses (B) build open communication relationships with their customers (C) be agents of change that deliver new and emerging technologies because change is constant and (D) help CIOs to manage training, education and change management, Leone said.