The Ingram Micro ONE Fall 2017 conference is underway in Dallas, Texas. More than 1,500 attendees -- spanning vendors, partners and Ingram leaders -- are on hand. As is ChannelE2E. Here's a live recap covering the major themes and trends as they unfold today.
The lineup includes...
Five Biggest Trends in Business and Technology
Paul Bay, group president and EVP, Ingram Micro, covered the top five trends across the business and IT world. He pointed to words like disruption, convergence, revolution: "Are those words really negative? I'm a glass-half-full guy and there are some opportunities in those words."
Then, he moved onto those five trends:
- Connections and Cash: You have to embrace a connected world -- from the device to the connection to the collaboration, he asserted. Then, Bay connected the dots between devices and services -- and the opportunity to make money doing it. Eighty percent of businesses are using at least three critical applications to run their companies, and they can't afford disruption, he asserted. To support that shift toward services, Ingram Micro continues to roll out special financing for as-a-service offerings.
- Convergence: "You will hear that word a thousand times here, and it's driving consolidation." It's not just happening at the vendor level but at the IT service provider level, he noted, with consolidation and M&A accelerating across the market. The big opportunities -- focus on customer experience and deliver it on next-generation pipelines line 5G, he asserted. And of course, he drove home the 'ONE Ingram' theme.
- Change and Community: It's a global reality. For instance, the SMB sales cycle is getting longer -- now at 10 months. And it's 12 months to enterprise. "It's because of the complexity and the delivery methods" -- on premises, hybrid, cloud, and how do you want to finance, he pointed out. Profitability is stable with a continued reliance on professional services. But too many partners are focused on legacy products, and that will pressure profits, he asserted. That means focusing on new ecosystems like developers, ISVs, and telcos. To bring that all together, lean on Ingram's TrustX Alliance and SMB Alliance communities, he noted.
- Expertise and Partner: Businesses will pay for an expert who delivers upside outcomes. "Specialization and expertise are winning," he asserted. To gain that expertise, partner with Ingram to fill those gaps. Here again, he pointed to Ingram professional services as a way to move forward.
- Get Back to Basics: You've got to simplify and focus on operational excellence. "Fail fast and move on with a 'kill it' mentality if something isn't working."
Be Disruptive (The Right Way)
Kirk Robinson, senior VP, Ingram Micro, described how partners can navigate multiple market disruptions and actually profit from them.
- "The disrupters aren't always the winners, and sometimes they're not sustainable." He pointed to MySpace, Palm and the original BlackBerry as examples of disrupters that were first to market but didn't survive in their original form.
- Channel Disrupters: Robinson pointed to Tommy Wald (an early MSP leader who now runs Xcellerate) who opened his doors more than a decade ago to show peer VARs how to build recurring revenues. Similar partnerships are now emerging in the Ingram ecosystem, as partners leverage big data, analytics, cloud and financing expertise, and more, he asserted.
- Born in the Cloud Service Providers: Watch for Ingram to deepen those relationships with ISVs. He pointed to Jason Bystrak, a key Ingram leader who is driving those new cloud-centric ISV solutions for partners. Ingram already manages more than 2 million cloud seats, and is rapidly marching toward 3 billion.
- Robinson also pointed to the company's core priorities for 2018, and how they will empower partners to ride disruptive waves -- rather than drown beneath them (see image right).
Era of Intelligence
Cisco Systems VP Nirav Sheth with special customer and partner guests addresses the so-called era of intelligence. Cisco's role: Deliver a secure, intelligent platform for digital business, he asserts.
Sheth pointed to Cisco's end-to-end security platform, stretching from endpoints to the cloud -- and the ability to rapidly detect issues, typically in three days or less, compared to an industry average of 100 days.
His messaging reinforced recent themes from Cisco Partner Summit 2017. And his presence at Ingram Micro ONE is an important indicator of Cisco's commitment to SMB partners. At Cisco Partner Summit in October, the company launched an MSP- and SMB-centric partnership with ConnectWise.
At the time, ChannelE2E openly wondered if Cisco would truly follow through with a renewed SMB push beyond the Umbrella platform. One week later, Sheth surfaced at ConnectWise IT Nation to reinforce the partnership. And now he's onstage at ONE, talking up a range of products and services -- including the ConnectWise relationship (again). It's a healthy, steady drumbeat to drive home Cisco's SMB partner commitment.
Security and Multi-Cloud Management: Sheth drove home key examples of how Cisco is addressing security across multi-cloud environments. That includes relationships with AWS, Google and more. The graphic at right/above captures Cisco's overall cloud partner strategy.
Ingram Cloud Strategy & More
Richard Dufty, senior VP, WW sales and services and support for Ingram Micro Cloud. He reinforced that Ingram has more than 2 million overall cloud users. "We're the largest operator and provider of cloud platforms," he asserts. "We don't just service the platform for the customers, but we also run it ourselves. We built it on behalf of our customers -- including Ingram."
A quick start program, moreover, allows ISVs to integrate within days. The goal is to iterate fast -- and keep iterating, rather than building slowly and launching on mass, he asserts. Ingram will continue to curate the marketplace based on customer needs -- particularly multi-vendor bundles for specific verticals or back office applications. The simplified mission, by the way: "Help business do more." And on the ISV front, he wants to help software companies to see, understand and value the channel.
In terms of differentiating from Salesforce, AppDirect and AWS Marketplace, he points to these unique attributions:
- Access to infinite ecosystem: The company has relationships with 1,700 vendors and 400,000 partners worldwide. And roughly 40,000 to 50,000 are on the Ingram Cloud Marketplace. The ecosystem includes everyone from small reseller.
- One Scalable Platform: Ingram has merged Odin & Ensim, the company's cloud software, and more than 700 engineers are developing for it.
- Support for Go to Market and Enablement: That's already in Ingram's DNA.
PS: Dufty doesn't shy away from the fact that Ingram is a 'distributor.' The difference is Ingram will now help to sell, curate and support digital distribution.
And to priorities for 2018? Not necessarily chasing new customers and partners. Instead, it's doubling down on existing relationships. "I want to spend the next year making sure all existing partners, resellers and ISVs are extremely successful."
Greg Richey, director of professional services, Ingram Micro: Among the big opportunity areas is outsourced project management -- where Ingram manages to keep you (the partner) on schedule and on budget with an end-customer engagement. The company has a couple dozen project managers or more managing such services.
Richey also touched on a 10-step guide to building a security practice. ChannelE2E is tracking down some highlights from that guide and will update this blog when we have them.
Media Q&A: Ingram Micro Executives
2:30 p.m. ET: We're stepping into an extended media Q&A now with the following Ingram executives.
- Paul Bay, EVP and Group President, Americas
- Kirk Robinson, SVP, go-to-market, US
- Jennifer Anaya, VP, marketing, Americas
- Anthony Mackle, Chief Financial Executive, Americas
- Greg Richey, director of professional services
- more names coming
On partner churn: Bay explained that the traditional Ingram partners are still in the house, but new types of partners focused on business analytics and services-driven outcomes are emerging. And there's more activity in terms of M&A conversation of partners than ever before, he added. PS: For a list of VAR & MSP M&A deals, check out this ChannelE2E link.
Net New Partners: Robinson described strong double-digit growth in net-new partners working with Ingram. Some of those partners are long-established businesses that are now engaging Ingram, but many are born-in-the-cloud partners that want solutions that run atop public cloud IaaS.
Internet of Things: Repeatable, scalable solutions are on the way in specific verticals. Ingram is re-working its vertical market strategy to address the IoT opportunity in healthcare, manufacturing and more, according to multiple executives.
Total Technology as a Service: Ingram is actually funding managed services contracts for partners -- paying the partners up-front so that partners don't have to wait for monthly payments over a 36-month term, for instance, according to Mackle.
Also, Ingram is connecting the dots between its cloud, financing and hardware partner business. The idea is to help partners build total technology consumption models that help customers "have it their way."
To ChannelE2E, it sounds like the financing, cloud and hardware relationships will greatly converge so that partners can eventually see a single version of the truth -- hardware, software and associated consumption models -- for each of their customers.
More: The interviews continue. Stay tuned for meeting recaps from several guests. We'll reveal details soon.