Big data and analytics are big, and getting bigger. Analyst firm IDC estimates that worldwide revenue from software, hardware and services related to big data and analytics will grow to $125 billion in 2015. Solution providers might think these technologies are too ‘big’ for them to tap. But the advantage is not so much in the big as it is in the analytics.
“The term ‘big data’ is an odd and ill-defined buzzword,” says Jeet Mukherjee, global vice president of business intelligence and analytics, Ingram Micro. Even Ingram Micro—a $42-billion company—doesn’t do the biggest of big data. “Our database is fairly small compared to other companies that go through hundreds of terabytes of data from things like social media feeds,” he says.
But the right analytics done on the right data at the right time can deliver a big return on investment for solution providers and their customers. In 2014, the average return from analytics was $13 for every dollar spent, up from about $10 the previous year, according to estimates by Nucleus Research.
A Rich Opportunity
Ingram Micro helps solution providers profit from analytics in several ways. First, Ingram Micro offers technical support and advice to solution providers on data analytics solutions and even appliances, which are basically servers packaged with analytics software. Some solution providers sell these appliances to their clients, while others use them in their own businesses. Either way, the key to getting the most business value out of analytics is formulating the right questions, says Michael Gunzelmann, technical solutions engineer, Ingram Micro.
Start by focusing on one area of the business that needs improvement. Define the business goal as specifically as possible. “Ask clients what would move the needle for them,” says Gunzelmann. The answer will guide you to the data you want to analyze, and how. Perhaps fraud is dinging the profits of a retailer. “What if analytics could cut those losses by 40 percent?” says Gunzelmann. Numbers like that prompt clients to sit up and take notice. They also convince them to make a big investment in analytics. After all, savings like that could pay for the investment in the first year.
Perhaps a solution provider wants to identify prospects that potentially are the most profitable. By crunching the data on current clients, analytics can identify their characteristics. Then predictive analytics can flag prospects that fit that profile, and the solution provider can focus its marketing and sales resources more efficiently.
“Success is all about having the right data, asking the right questions, and using the right tools,” says Gunzelmann. “It’s not rocket science, but it does require thinking in a different way. But once people understand the power of analytics, they tend to take it and run with it.”
Stake Your Claim
Most solution providers have yet to take advantage of this power, however. Gunzelmann estimates that less than 10 percent of U.S. resellers have moved beyond spreadsheets and are truly mining and analyzing data strategically. One reason is that it requires an investment of money in the technology and an investment of time in learning how to use data analytics. But that’s another area where Ingram Micro can help.
Technical staff like Gunzelmann can guide solution providers, not only educating them about analytics, but also helping them to team with other partners to deliver a total solution. Lack of expertise should not keep a solution provider from discussing possibilities with an Ingram Micro representative. “If you’re not an expert in certain areas, we’ll find partners to team with you,” says Gunzelmann.
Use Analytics to Fill the Pipeline
Even solution providers with zero knowledge of data analytics can avail themselves of its power by tapping into Ingram Micro’s business intelligence capabilities. The company collects and analyzes end-customer data that yields insights that Ingram Micro, its manufacturers and its solution providers can use to sell more products and services.
For example, analysis shows that many customers buy certain products together. So if a customer buys Products X and Y, Ingram Micro knows that customer is likely buy Product Z. The distributor can notify solution providers of this trend and even offer special promotions to encourage sales of Product Z. Using analytics can reveal insights like these.
“We have the ability to predict which end users are going to buy what and when, and we can help the reseller target that purchase,” Mukherjee says. “With no analytics, the close rate on leads is 1 percent to 2 percent,” he explains. “But if we’re able to analytically identify who should be buying that product and target those individuals with automated emails, that number goes up to 12 percent to 20 percent.”
Data Center Warehouse is one solution provider that is using leads generated from Ingram Micro’s analytics. The Irvine, Calif.- based company, which focuses on midsize to large enterprises, was founded just two years ago but is growing fast—300 percent in just 24 months, according to Dan Parris, general manager and vice president of sales, Data Center Warehouse.
“We are acquiring customers as fast as possible, so all our reps are in hunting mode,” he says. Over the last three months, the company has been using Ingram Micro’s leads and found them to be of exceptional quality. “A lead from Ingram Micro is a million times better than a cold lead from a website,” says Parris. “The results have been very encouraging.”
Ingram Micro also uses analytics to design data-driven marketing programs on behalf of the manufacturer, providing white papers and other educational information to targeted end users. This helps create demand at the end-user level, which Ingram Micro directs to the appropriate reseller, adds Mukherjee. “We are pulling that business through on a continuous basis, sometimes without the reseller even realizing that we’re doing that,” he says.
But solution providers that want to do their own analytics or sell analytics to customers should be prepared to invest time, money and energy. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” says Gunzelmann. “It’s much easier to sell a server than it is to talk to clients about their businesses.” For those solution providers willing to dive into a new and booming specialty, however, “there are many, many potential applications.”
Drill into the Possibilities Now
In short, Ingram Micro provides a variety of ways for solution providers to take advantage of data analytics. Whether it’s using analytics-generated leads from Ingram Micro, implementing your own internal data analytics, or selling analytics appliances to customers, there is opportunity in that data. “You’ll be amazed at what the data will tell you,” says Gunzelmann.
For more information on Ingram Micro’s analytics capabilities, call Andrew Cossentine at (714) 382-4654.