Debate 2020: The Future of Distribution Is Anything but Boring

Distributors and master agents have a lot on their plates.

Lynn Haber

September 2, 2020

4 Min Read

Will the future of distribution look anything like traditional distribution? Not that distributors and master agents have been idle. They haven’t.

Distribution partners and master agents have been busy transforming their businesses over the past decade. At the same time, technology and customers have morphed. Those changes include the shift to cloud and as-a-service to how customers want to buy. The distribution landscape has also been forever altered as a result of mergers and acquisitions, as well as with an influx of new players. For example, look at Amazon. Also, talking about new players, what about all the new partner types jumping into the fray?

If you’re looking for a robust debate, we have it. Join panelists Tim Basa, vice president of sales and operations at AppSmart; Jennifer Anaya, senior vice president global marketing at Ingram Micro Technology Solutions; and Karin Fields, chief executive officer and chief operating officer at MicroCorp, at Channel Partners Virtual. The presentation – Debate 2020: The Future of Distribution – is part of the Business of the Channel Conference Track. Watch it on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 12:10 p.m.

Panelists Anaya and Fields get the debate going here. Then, don’t miss the rest on Sept. 9.

Channel Partners: Distribution is vital to many partners. We keep revisiting the role of distribution because of its impact on the partner ecosystem. So what factors are impacting distribution today, and in the near future? 

Karin Fields: There are several factors.


MicroCorp’s Karin Fields

There’s a need for a much broader, deeper product set. That’s because customers are demanding their “trusted advisers” help them with every aspect of their technology spend or risk the customer bringing someone else to help them. Another factor is having a deeper knowledge of traditionally auxiliary products like security and SaaS.

Anaya and Fields are among the dozens of industry speakers who will “take the stage” at Channel Partners Virtual. Our online trade show is Sept. 8-10. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind event. So register now!

Distribution also needs to keep partners educated on all these new products and services. Our partners have always been solution-oriented, but pretty much solution-oriented within the network space. Now they need to be able to assist customers with everything from voice to applications to infrastructure.

And, one more factor impacting distribution today is working with nontraditional partners. Business is coming from our local realtor, web designers and CPAs. These are people that have little to know knowledge of our space, but they have the trust of the customer.

Jennifer Anaya: Our role is to be a business partner and aggregation point to the partner ecosystem. We see partners constantly juggling priorities around where to invest, where to manage costs, and how to best serve their business customers. Added to this, business IT buyers are changing.


Ingram Micro’s Jennifer Anaya

There are more than 20 influencers involved in any given IT buying decision, an unprecedented five generations working together, and with the impact of the global pandemic, time has certainly been added to the sales cycles.

Also, partners need to better define their technical expertise, carve out their service path, and lower the costs in how that expertise and service are delivered. They need to do this so they can optimize and scale while maintaining, and in many cases increasing profitability.

CP: How has the pandemic impacted distribution today? Will that impact drive new changes in distribution? 

JA: The pandemic accelerated the need for distributors to quickly create change and opportunity on behalf of partners. In the U.S., NPD results show that not all distributors were able to execute well on these three points. And, in the rest of the world, smaller, niche distributors have struggled to manage through the pandemic.

KF: July and August have been our two best months for sales in the last 13 months.  UCaaS, CCaaS and Infrastructure have made up most of these sales. Customers are seeing what they currently have isn’t working. And now that work from home will be our new reality, they are being forced to migrate to virtualization two to three years ahead of plan.

Demand for security, DaaS and SaaS is also growing because of the pandemic. Our partners aren’t ready for these discussions, so they need to rely on their ecosystem – their distributor – for support to have the discussions they need to have.

CP: Why is it important for partners to attend this session?

JA: Partners need to know that they have the support of strong, smart distribution partners that have their backs, and are investing in roads that can lead to profitable growth and future customer acquisitions. This session will demonstrate all of the options they have.

KF: COVID-19 has changed our world in many ways. I believe that being a part of a strong distribution channel is the only way partners will be able to succeed.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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