By Brian Sherman
Innovate and strengthen your capabilities. Those were two points that were heavily emphasized during this week’s Ingram Micro ONE event in Nashville. Whether a solution provider, vendor or other player in the IT channel, the message coming from the distributor’s executive team was one of support and new opportunities.
Paul Bay, executive vice president and chief executive, Ingram Micro U.S. and Export, stressed that innovation is the key to success for not only end users, but their providers, vendors and the distributor as well. “It’s still all about mastering the four C’s: change, consolidation, consumerization and complexity. We need to focus on what IDC terms the partner the future, managing customers across multiple platforms and becoming true business specialists rather than being a simple technology provider.”
Shortening the sales cycle is crucial, and Bay emphasized several ways Ingram Micro is helping its channel partners and vendors accomplish that objective. “We layer services across the board and go deeper to add value to our partners’ businesses.” He continued citing that according to CompTIA research, 48% of solution provider revenue comes from professional services, and that number is expected to climb over the next few years. “Those who know their customers and are better positioned to uncover these type of new opportunities. We all need to work on acting and thinking differently, getting outside our comfort zones to improve success. IM professional services can help. After all, it’s not just about growth with your customers, it’s about the value you offer,” he said.
Helping Navigate a Continually Changing Channel Landscape
With a flurry of mergers and interesting new alliances, many partners are wondering if and how all the changes will affect their end users and their own bottom lines. Should they be concerned about losing key business relationships? Perhaps, when it all shakes out, but right now it’s a great opportunity for providers to review their vendor program details and discuss any true concerns with their distribution representatives.
Kirk Robinson, SVP of Commercial Markets and Global Accounts for Ingram Micro, noted several examples of these unusual relationships on the mainstage, and acknowledged the confusion some of these activities are causing. “While walking the tech fair at Dell, I noticed a number of competitive vendors and they even had Microsoft’s CEO take the stage with Michael Dell. Are they friends or enemies? In this strange new world, they are friends who strategize regularly, but compete in other areas,” noted Robinson.
Apple and Microsoft have a similar relationship. Two companies battling at one level and partnering on another. Intel works with (and competes with) a number of IT vendors. When you add in Dell’s proposed acquisition of EMC, the industry seems to be in some disarray (cue the Ghostbusters “mass hysteria” clip).
Of course there’s no reason to panic. “One company can bring you back to reality and help clarify all the chaos: Ingram Micro,” emphasized Robinson. His teams stay in close communication with all their vendor partners and update roadmaps and program specifics regularly. If you have a question or concern about anything that could affect your end users or your own business, contact your Ingram representative. “We’ve got your back.”
Make Cloud Easier (and More Profitable)
It may be one of the fastest growing revenue segments in the IT industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s been a dream come true for solution providers. As a matter of fact, many are still trying to find their way selling and managing cloud solutions with their specific customers. That’s a major reason why Ingram Micro Cloud exists, to build a portfolio of solutions and support services optimized for channel partners (and their business customers).
Renee Bergeron, VP of Global Cloud stressed that point in her main stage presentation, outlining five of the top reasons (David Letterman style) Ingram Micro Cloud will shorten your sales cycle.
5. The Cloud Marketplace --- Available in the US, Canada, UK and 13 other countries, this store makes it easy for your end customers to find and purchase new services that you provide. Fifteen vendors are already fully automated on the site, with Acronis and Dropbox as the latest additions. It will soon be fully integrated with leading PSAs and can be white labeled to create your own online cloud store.
4. Cloud Partner Enablement Program --- Leverage Ingram Micro’s more than 700 associates across the globe, all dedicated to the cloud. 24/7 customer service is free to all cloud partners with a single 1-800 phone number to simplify the process.
3. Cloud Channel Programs --- Unique practice opportunities for your own particular business needs. Billing and support options are available, as is the referral program.
2. Cloud Elevate --- Ingram Micro’s Cloud Loyalty program with various support services and rewards for participation.
1. Cloud Ecosystem --- Helps you cross sell and grow wallet share with existing customers. More than an SKU, it’s about providing all the solutions and services you and your clients need.
Looking for more great insight on building or building out your cloud business practice? Attend the 2016 Cloud Summit at the JW Marriott in Phoenix, April 11th-13th. Registration opens soon.