SPC International recently met in London with Jason Beal, Senior Director, Software and Services, Value Division at Ingram Micro EMEA. Jason discussed numerous topics and provided valuable insight into how Ingram Micro is helping to transform the channel one partner at a time.
Alongside a number of key partners who together play an increased role in the transformation of the channel, especially as cloud and utility-based computing continues to gain traction in the marketplace, opportunity has never been greater for solution providers to succeed.
Ingram Micro and the Channel Transformation Alliance
Ingram Micro has spearheaded the creation of the Channel Transformation Alliance; a consortium of best-of-breed educators, trainers, consultants and vendors focused on providing IT solution providers the resources and guidance they will need in order to achieve business transformation.
The Channel Transformation alliance’s goal is to help providers adapt, evolve, and improve in order to develop more sophisticated business approaches, more mature financial management practices and more rigorous internal operational processes through education, training and vendor relations.
During our meeting, Beal discussed the IT industry at large, the solution provider community, and his vision of channel transformation and Ingram Micro’s role in it.
SPC International: We’ve been hearing a lot about Channel Transformation lately. Can you share with us your thoughts on just what Channel Transformation is?
Jason Beal: Channel Transformation is really represented, really this large effort that the IT Industry has right now because of the transformation around the end user’s appetite and consumption of technology. In the past, businesses would simply purchase the technology, and those purchase decisions were very much based upon what we say, “speeds and feeds” or features and functionality.
Nowadays, as IT is becoming 1) much more of let’s say a utility, but 2) much more of a competitive advantage, that’s forcing the local solution provider, what we call the trusted advisor, to be much more knowledgeable about the end user’s business, their competitive advantage, how their customers want to grow or expand geographically.
As such, that puts really different pressures on the local solution provider. They need to understand the end user’s budget, their preferences, their needs and then be able to position solutions accordingly. The transformation is really this change from an internal business model perspective within the reseller and their external go to market strategy of how they’re going to address those changing needs and those changing consumption habits of their customers.
SPC International: Why did you start with this Channel Transformation initiative, other than the obvious?
Jason Beal: Ingram Micro is there to help the channel, right? We help our vendors by creating channels, recruiting resellers, enabling those resellers and helping them brand and bring their technologies to market.
On the other end of the supply chain, we’re there to help our reseller partners identify new business opportunities, extract costs and grow more profitably. As such, we saw a need to help the solution providers make this transition from being either primarily product resale organizations or break/fix service companies transition to more proactive and service-centric models, help them move to monthly recurring or annuity-based sales and support models.
A lot of partners asked for our help, we understand their business very well and it’s our role to help them make that transition. That’s why we saw the need for Channel Transformation.
SPC International: So a paradigm shift is now well underway where today’s business IT investments and purchases are now made with the mindset that technology is more of a utility. This utility mindset allows solutions that are now well within the reach of even the smallest of companies through cloud computing, even though those same solutions were once only designed for enterprise corporations. What options does the Channel have, really in adopting some Cloud technology for their practice because that seems to be a big initiative for the next couple of years.
Jason Beal: One of the biggest value propositions of the Cloud is that truly you can bring enterprise-sized technology to the SMB without the enterprise-sized price tag. So for instance, a few years ago small businesses may not have been able to afford a CRM package when they needed to buy let’s say some expensive licensing and servers and technical account managers and configure a CRM solution.
They may not have been able to afford a true unified communication solution if they needed to buy those bits and pieces independently and the hardware and the software onsite. Nowadays with some Cloud-based solutions, whether it’s Cloud-based, UCS, hosted CRM, the average business can afford those now on a price per user per month and the reseller community can afford then to deliver those technologies to the end users.
So that’s what we see, Cloud, there are many green-field opportunities for the resellers to expand their business within their current customer base by adding those Cloud Solutions.
Ingram Micro has 31 years of experience working and partnering with solution providers to understand their business needs. Together with other members of the Channel Transformation Alliance, Ingram Micro is dedicated to being not just a resource, but a partner in their ascension into the Cloud and on into the future, assisting them in transformation as a new IT-as-a-Service provider.
Learn more about the Channel Transformation Alliance at www.channeltransformation.com.