It's Time to Join Your Customers in Embracing a Digital Mindset for the Future

Channel partners must first sync their own service models with digital transformation to help customers.

January 7, 2022

4 Min Read
Change your mindset

By Sanjib Sahoo


Sanjib Sahoo

The IT channel in any industry right now is beleaguered. Everyone is looking for a means to execute on digitization with an eye toward conserving staff resources and realizing ROI with any strategic move. This landscape is an opportunity for businesses in the channel – distributors, providers and partners alike – to step up and embrace a digital mindset that will help their own business as well as those they serve.

Adopting the Digital Mindset

The traditional way of operating in the IT channel doesn’t work anymore. The mindset of the future requires moving from legacy, manual processes that reduce EBITDA margins and using the full complement of technology platforms that bring efficiency, enhance customer experience and improve margins as well.

But the true value isn’t about developing another cool app or tool. It’s in using tools that bring value creation. For example, to get your customers the answers and solutions they need quickly, you must better anticipate their needs, as well as the needs of those they sell to and collaborate with. Then, using machine learning, you can push recommendations and insights to them.

Focusing on business model change, and not just another technology tool in the bag, is a core part of the digital mindset.

Starting from Within

Another aspect of the digital mindset is changing your approach to service delivery. That can entail a major shift from a channel-driven approach to a demand-driven approach. Your ecosystem – including associates, partners, providers, and customers – are all dealing with historic levels of complexity and need answers in a timely fashion. Helping them get what they need on demand is the smart strategy.

A best practice is to offer a single pane of glass to serve your varying audiences through the life cycle of their engagement. This will help reduce the headache of them having to navigate through siloed data files or systems across a myriad of software and offerings. This single pane will also be the repository for the intelligence gained through machine learning and can be used to improve business use cases including pricing, recommendations and renewals.

While collecting the data is foundational, it is equally as important to remember to prioritize the use cases by value creation. Automation can be further used to help expedite recommendations or to send alerts on renewals, for example. Enriching the customer experience through automation will be an asset in pricing negotiations and renewals as well.

Shifting Your Viewpoint

We know embracing the digital mindset, bringing in technology that adds value creation and eliminating headache complexity through streamlined services, helps all of us bring digitization forward. But what about the culture of your organization? How can you make this compelling for all? Taking a design thinking view of the customer journey is an approach that can bring everyone together.

Design thinking is more of a spirit than a process. It is about solving problems in a more collaborative way, about everyone, regardless of position, focusing on how the use case can improve the customer experience. It has application in the way we price, build, and do life cycle management.

Going forward, you can take this collective spirit and create an execution plan that balances risk to current performance with future transformation. It’s about sequencing change to show value incrementally, but not pausing – or even disrupting – your current business.

While you may be tempted to execute short-term technology initiatives, for digitization to work for your company, your partners and your customers, you must architect for infinite business models. The market is always evolving. By shifting your thinking, you will be able to respond to these market dynamics and new competition. This resilient, modern digital mindset is your protection against future unknowns.

Sanjib Sahoo is executive vice president and chief digital officer at Ingram Micro Inc. His more than 20 years business experience includes stints at XPO Logistics and TradeMonster (E*Trade/Morgan Stanley). In October 2021, Sahoo was one of 10 global leaders named to Constellation Research’s Business Transformation 150 Hall of Fame. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program, holds a master’s degree in computer applications from the Institute of Management Technology, India, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Calcutta University, India. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @IngramMicroInc on Twitter.

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