Ingram Micro has always prided itself on the level of service it provides its partners, but within the last year, it has taken multiple steps to up its services game. A range of new services, combined with existing Ingram Micro offerings, enables solution providers to stretch their reach—geographically and technically—and increase their bottom line, all without putting a strain on their resources.
“Today, we have a solution for whatever the solution provider needs, including installation help, technical resources and assessment services,” says Scott Zahl, general manager and vice president of the Ingram Micro Advanced Computing Division.
Scale Your Reach
First, IM Link has been expanded. IM Link has historically connected partners from different geographies, enabling a partner in one region to do business in other areas of the country. In the last 18 months, the program has grown both in the number of solution providers participating and in terms of the kind of technical help available. Membership grew 68 percent year-over-year in 2013, and is on pace to exceed that this year, says Greg Richey, Ingram Micro’s director of professional and training services. In addition, Ingram Micro has expanded its portfolio of technologies available through IM Link to address the needs of increasingly sophisticated solution providers and end customers.
The IM Link program now has two categories: Select and Preferred providers. Select providers do traditional break/fix help and standard deployments like desktops. Preferred providers offer specialized assistance in particular technology solutions, such as data analytics or unified communications and collaboration. Ingram Micro vets partners to make sure they are qualified in their particular specialty, says Richey. Ingram Micro also helps to manage the financial engagement, so the customer deals with a single invoice.
Build Your Bench
Second, with its recent acquisition of Chaska, Minn.-based IT services company Rollouts, Ingram Micro has increased its ability to provide partners with qualified contract labor that delivers consistent, predictable and high-quality service.
“Ingram Micro is maximizing value for our channel partners by bringing to market the solutions, services and support they need to compete more effectively, scale their market reach, and expand their technical expertise and professional services capabilities with ease and greater cost efficiency,” says Paul Bay, president of North America Technology Solutions, Ingram Micro. “Adding Rollouts’ proven and highly scalable workforce and project management services to our professional services portfolio will further enable our channel partners to pursue larger deals with confidence and look to Ingram Micro Professional Services as an extension of their own IT services practice.”
The acquisition adds a network of more than 15,000 IT technicians that solution providers can tap into via IM Link. Coordinated and managed by Ingram Micro’s deployment services team, the new capability ensures that all technicians deliver the same “meet, greet and treat” service for all engagements, Richey explains. That means there are standards for the way technicians handle each job, including how to greet the customer on-site. They also are required to demonstrate proof of performance, which includes taking photos of the work and getting certain sign-offs.
“With IM Link, we have a pristine way a seller and buyer can work together, and the buyer can be assured that the work has been performed, that the customer has accepted it, and it’s managed the same way across the country,” says Richey. He notes that even small and midtier solution providers are using the service to do large deployments—some involving thousands of sites—across North America.
Grow Your Expertise
The third area is assessment services, called IM Expert Services, which Ingram Micro has expanded as well. The program started with wireless network assessment and virtualization health checks, and Ingram Micro recently added web vulnerability assessment, voice/video network readiness check, and penetration testing to the portfolio.
Under the IM Expert Services program, Ingram Micro provides a team that performs a third-party assessment of a customer’s technology. This is usually perceived by the customer as being more objective and of greater value than if the solution provider did the assessment, notes Zahl. “This gives the customer a professional and objective report,” he says. Then the solution provider can discuss the results with the customer, and together they decide what needs to be done.
The wireless network assessment, for example, evaluates whether the network is appropriately configured, with wireless access points in the right places, to minimize radio-frequency interference. Wireless LANs are increasingly strained, says Richey, not only by interference from many sources, perhaps by another office tenant’s wireless network, but also by the dramatic increase in Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the last few years.
Nathan Stahlman, managing network consultant at Sikich LLP, an accounting services and IT services provider based in Naperville, Ill., recently used Ingram Micro’s wireless network assessment service. A customer was having a variety of technical issues across its five office and warehouse locations, and engaged Sikich to perform an infrastructure assessment of each location. The assessment showed that the wireless LANs were not properly configured, which was particularly problematic for the customer’s warehouses, where operators of forklifts and barcode scanners were relying on wireless connections.
Sikich needed to dig deeper, but wireless site surveys fell outside the core technology services provided by Sikich.
Stahlman called in IM Expert Services. “Ingram Micro has the tools and expertise to fully understand all of the operating variables within a wireless network infrastructure,” says Stahlman. “The information provided by Ingram Micro visually depicts how wireless signals are behaving in that environment.”
Ingram Micro made recommendations that enabled Sikich to improve the customer’s network coverage by 30 percent to 40 percent. “The final reports that Ingram Micro provides present a clear picture of what needs to be done,” he says. “Ingram Micro was instrumental in helping us create a plan of attack for resolving the customer’s problems.”
Richey notes that the wireless assessment, in particular, has “proven to be an extremely valuable assessment that solution providers can provide to their end users to help them appropriately build an infrastructure that will support the needs of their particular business.”
But all the services are designed to help solution providers become—and remain—trusted advisers for their customers, he adds.
Learn how to stretch your business without putting a pinch on resources with Ingram Micro. Visit http://www.ingrammicro.com/professionalservices.