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October 4, 2017
At the recent Global Technology Distribution Council (CTDC) Summit, where distributors discussed the latest industry trends and developments, Channel Partners caught up with Ingram Micro executives Paul Bay, executive vice president and group president for the Americas, and Kirk Robinson, senior vice president, Go to Market.
Bay and Robinson discussed some industry trends and the impact on both the distribution community and partners.
Ingram Micro’s Paul Bay
Channel Partners: When it comes to telecom, what’s Ingram’s relationship with telecom companies and what telecom offerings are in the Ingram portfolio?
Paul Bay: Ingram Micro has such a vast offering of products and services, and we touch a majority of telecoms on a global basis, and a lot of time that’s through our cloud platform. We’ve been very inquisitive and active in acquiring technology on our cloud platform such as Ensim and … Odin, now called the Ingram Micro platform, and we sell through many telecoms — meaning they buy our cloud offering that goes through them as a telecom and out to the end user.
We’re solving a need for the end user because we have the capability to do that. I think the telecoms, they’re looking at – what do they want to be too – so as they expand their services and offerings, do they become a different customer to us?
That comes back to, who are our customers of the future and where are [we headed]?
We’re active on the telecom front in a number of ways, which varies somewhat by – I’ll call it geographic location – because of the skill sets at some of the telecom companies. That’s an area we weren’t in just a few years ago, but because of our activity in cloud and that consumption model, we’re very active there.
CP: Would you be more specific about how Ingram is active with telecoms?
PB: We’re providing services and solutions that are being delivered through our cloud platform through telecom agents out to the end user.
Ingram Micro’s Kirk Robinson
Kirk Robinson: We also made an acquisition of Bright Point about five years ago, and that put us in a different position where one out of every three handsets in the U.S. was touched by Bright Point, and their full life-cycle service on the handset, that’s working with all the major carriers, imaging, asset tagging, recycling, refurbishing, from the mobility side. So that’s a bit different angle when you say telecom, but still within that world of mobility.
CP: What do you want partners to know about Ingram bringing in new technologies that will help them move their businesses forward?
PB: They should continue to look at Ingram Micro as an opportunity regarding some of the new technologies that are coming to market. We have an emerging vendors initiative within our company to make sure that we …
… know who is going to be the next rising star. So, as a trusted adviser to the channel, Ingram Micro makes sure that we’re vetting how those solutions fit in, whether that’s from a cloud standpoint or the next physical storage – whatever delivery that it’s going to be – and how that fits into the overall solution.
We’re a good place for partners to come because of the bellwether and the access to all the different information that we have as to where the opportunities are.
CP: Could Ingram Micro look like too big a company to some partners, and get a little overwhelmed by all that the company does?
PB: A $43 billion, 20,000 person company is a big company. We’ve worked very hard, and Kirk’s team specifically, focusing on the customer and how we make sure that whether you’re big or small, you have a way to come into Ingram Micro and [a way] we [can] service you. All partners’ needs are going to be different … for large customers it may be about efficiencies and getting from point A to point B, and it may be more about volume. A small business owner is looking for us to be their IT outsourcer as they go to the end user because they are the trusted adviser to that end user.
So, hopefully, for people who look at us and say your too big, I’m going to go somewhere else … we have most of our resources today focused on go to market, so supporting the customer and the experience in some aspect, i.e. sales, marketing, vendor management, inside sales, field sales.
KR: I would hope that we don’t look too big. When I hear customer feedback, and that could be from an SMB customer all the way up to an enterprise customer, feedback about what we’re doing for them, then there are some people who probably think we are too big … but that’s a shame. We have people coming on board every day and we’re probably going to net out 2,000 more new customers this year than last year.
CP: There’s been a lot of consolidation in the distribution channel. Do you think it’s good for partners?
PB: I think it’s the evolution of business. Economics would tell you that two to four [companies] is where large, mature businesses land, and we’ve had as many as a half-dozen to a dozen distribution channel providers over the last many years and now its consolidating.
The one thing that I think is different is that everyone [distributors] is placing their bet a little bit differently. So, how we look bigger wasn’t necessarily through consolidation of partners who do business as we do. We’ve been investing organically, and in skill sets and in geographic expansion versus trying to take two of the same types of distributors and trying to make the company bigger.
So, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing because there [are] still many choices in the distribution community.
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