Channel partner programs, CSPs, Channel technologies, IT distribution

Avnet’s Emerging Digital Transformation Strategy

Sergio Farache
Sergio Farache

Avnet Technology Solutions is using a mix of home-grown talent and entrepreneurs to tackle digital business transformation opportunities. Among the key players to know: Senior VP Sergio Farache and VP Tim FitzGerald.

Farache was a career entrepreneur in Venezuela -- focused on business process outsourcing (BPO) and financial systems -- until Avnet acquired his company in 2010. Instead of selling and exiting, Farache remained with Avnet and moved to Miami.

Shifting from lifetime entrepreneur to corporate employee was "an impactful transition," he says. "When you're an entrepreneur you gain certain competencies and skills that become assets. But working for a Fortune 500 company requires different types of skills. I stayed because I wanted to learn, a wanted a challenge, and I wanted to create and entrepreneurial culture inside a Fortune 500 company."

So far, so good. In 2010 he became senior VP and GM of Avnet Technology Solutions' Latin America and Caribbean businesses. Fast forward to the present, and Avnet now serves 29 Latin America countries. But the journey -- blending entrepreneur and Fortune 500 skills -- won't end there.

Avnet's Digital Inflection Point

In mid-2015, the company tapped Farache for another strategic role -- senior VP, solutions and strategy, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. The move was part of a bigger digital and IoT strategy that new Global President Patrick Zammit was piecing together.

"Avnet can touch so many points in the value chain of an IT ecosystem," says Farache. "And now, the Internet of Things is probably the largest opportunity we've seen in many years. There's an end-to-end opportunity from the chip to security to the cloud -- plus all of the analytics processes that have to take place."

Going forward, Avnet is trying to help suppliers and service providers to adopt emerging technologies within a vertical approach. The resulting partner base will include:

  • Partners that don't evolve but therefore see a reduction in margins ("Yes, we'll support them," says Farache.);
  • partners that truly transform their business for the age of consumption-based subscription services; and
  • born in the cloud partners, including ISVs that take on numerous, blended roles.

The wildcard in that list involves the ISVs. Sometimes they're partners. Sometimes they're customers. Sometimes they have a hybrid role.

Avnet Cloud Marketplace's Evolving Role

Tim FitzGerald

The other key component to watch is Avnet's Cloud Marketplace. Tim FitzGerald, formerly VP of Cloud Solutions, has played a key role in Avnet's cloud strategy since at least 2010. Fast forward to the present, and FitzGerald is now VP of digital transformation -- a title that signals the next big shift for the company.

FitzGerald reports to Farache, and expects the Avnet Cloud Marketplace to transform from a brokerage to an ecosystem for all things digital. "In the digital world and the IoT world, the new way of interaction will be more of an ecosystem approach rather than two-tier distribution or one-tier sales," echoes Farache.

As part of that evolution, watch for FitzGerald to work closely with Eric Williams, who recently took on the newly created role -- VP of Internet of Things. Along the way, the very definition of a solution provider will evolve, asserts Farache. Avnet's digital team wants to lead that evolution.

Of course, rival distributors are pursuing digital transformation strategies as well. Recent financial results over at Tech Data were especially strong. And rival Ingram Micro is preparing for more globalization, amid a $6 billion buyout of that company.

Goodbye Cloud 1.0. Hello digital 2.0.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.