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The state of integration

July 12, 2021

The state of integration
Ingram Micro’s futuristic integration centers are tasked with fabricating some of the most advanced B2B hardware computing solutions produced anywhere in the world. There is seemingly no limit to what they can build and deliver to customers, and that’s because they can do more than just place software on pretty hardware. Our integration centers can manage logistics, R&D, support and shipping. And by partnering with other Ingram Micro business units, Integrated Solutions is poised to offer the sort of comprehensive solutions that no one else can match.
For details we caught up with Daniel Grelle, director of Sales for Ingram Micro’s North American Integrated Solutions group. Here’s what he had to say.
What is Integrated Solutions’ main differentiator?
DG: I believe our strongest differentiator is being able to offer comprehensive solutions by partnering with other Ingram Micro business units (BUs). Our Emerging Business Group (EBG) BU is a great example. EBG works with a lot of emerging companies, whether OEMs or ISVs, that want access to our route to market, aka the Ingram Micro channel. What we're finding is these emerging companies have IP (intellectual property) they're pairing with hardware to deliver a product to market. Our value prop for companies like this is not only can we give them a route to market, but also we can operationalize their needs.
For example, one of our vendors sells a cloud storage solution and a cloud computing solution. They already had a sales team and were using another company to do integration for them, and we were having trouble convincing them to move from their current integration solution to ours. We solved this by partnering with EBG, which allowed us to offer a focused sales campaign, access to an exclusive customer base, in addition to building and delivering their hardware solution to their end users. The ability to offer a comprehensive solution like that changed our entire conversation with this vendor and we were able to sign them. But it was this holistic approach that changed how they viewed our value proposition and ultimately landed us the deal.
John Marinick, director of Sales & Integration Services, mentioned Integrated Solutions has experimented with recurring revenue models. Are there plans to expand that in the future?
Recurring revenue models are going to become more and more common for us and our industry. Software has to live on hardware, and in our experience, newer companies see hardware as something they want to invest as little in as possible. They don't want to take on the financial burden of designing, managing and reselling hardware. Influence and control over the hardware running a company’s IP is important, but how companies are acquiring and consuming hardware is changing rapidly, and the financial landscape has a lot to do with that. I think we're going to see an increase in consumption models and just paying for what you use. Yes, leasing models are in place today, but our team is still figuring how to bill that sort of consumption. We have to figure it out quickly though because the industry is moving toward an integration as a service model.
What is your 5-year vision for the future of integration at Ingram Micro?
Ingram Micro has a lot of great opportunity to expand its integration footprint. Currently, we have three facilities: Millington, Greenville and Mira Loma. While our integration business has been around a while, it hasn't been optimized into a growth engine for us, from a value proposition perspective. In five years I expect us to have not only a true global footprint (by building additional integration centers around the world), but more importantly, a unified, consistent experience for our customers. That means no more separate shop floor control systems, but instead consistency in how operations run within our separate facilities. Also getting our integration footprint to be viewed as its own profit center and global business. And that comes down to delivering a consistent customer experience, whether our customers are using two of our North America locations while also executing in EMEA or APAC. It needs to be one global experience—how we do it here looks and feels the same around the world as well. And that’s important if we want to catch and surpass our competitors. We need to build a footprint and an operational customer experience that's consistent. That's the future of integration at Ingram Micro.
What do you foresee happening industrywide in the next few years?
The speed at which technology is emerging is incredible. Whether it's 5G, EDGE, containerization, hosting—or traditional markets like healthcare or public sector—the need for hardware and solutions is exploding. But I don't view what we do as selling integration. The future is about engaging with customers to understand what they need, what their challenges are, so we can enable their business. Some customers need a robust global supply chain, they might need integration, engineering, financing or a logistics footprint—the needs are different for everyone. The future will see integration centers becoming more specialized and focused. We need to stop thinking of ourselves as a channel distributor, and start developing specialized solutions for EDGE, 5G, etc. We need to think of ourselves as solution engineering specialists and solution design architects.
We need to bridge into professional services and offer comprehensive packages to customers. There are plenty of companies that know they have a need but aren't sure exactly what that need is or even what the possibilities are in terms of solutions that we can offer. It’s up to us to steer them in the right direction by leveraging our vendor relationships and expertise to deliver solutions that satisfy those needs. That's the true end game for our industry, and that's where we need to go to stay competitive.
For more information on how your customers can benefit from integrated solutions, contact the experts at Ingram Micro.


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