The channel is at a major transformation point. Innovation is driving more creative and complex solutions. Service-provider business models continue to evolve to better support their customers' continually shifting needs and priorities. And collaboration is on the rise as more partners look to their peers, manufacturers and distributors for additional support and expertise.
Those changes are just the tip of the iceberg. In order to help enable those changes, the distribution model has to transform as well. Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monié shared his insight on the trends shaping business decisions around the world, as well as the evolving channel model, during a Q&A session on the main stage at the recent ONE event in Las Vegas.
With the distributor’s recent acquisition by the HNA Group on the minds of many providers and vendors, Monié emphasized why the move is a positive one for everyone involved. “Some things will absolutely not change, including the way we work with partners and vendors. But other things will change for the better. We will be able to be somewhat less risk-averse in what we do since we won’t be publicly listed anymore. We can invest in ways we haven’t been able to do before and bring new solutions the market for our partners.”
Not only will the company be outside the scrutiny of public stock markets, which typically respond negatively to major tech investments, but the team will have access to additional capital to grow and better leverage its partnerships. That’s a win for the channel. “For example, we accelerated our investments a couple years ago and the market did not respond positively. Our stock price went down. But we have to invest seriously today in order to face the future challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. This acquisition allows us to invest faster and be more intent in our strategies. And, since H&A has no business like ours, so they will allow us to do what we do well.”
When asked about the future of Ingram Micro, Monié was optimistic that the distributor was more relevant than ever and would continue to expand its presence and value in the channel. He discussed the growing opportunities with the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence and other technological advances. The need for channel partners who can support it will be critical, and Ingram Micro is developing and expanding its programs to help.
There are two specific channel changes he believes are crucial and relevant. “The first is the growth of the as-a-service model and investing in it. The skills you have to develop are more along the lines of vertical market expertise than technology. For example, you have to know how the health care industry works if you want to sell them cloud.”
The second change involves the evolution of the partner business model from traditional services to managed or cloud services. “You get paid over time now rather than up front, so you may need funding until you get the revenue. Everyone is struggling with that aspect, with the financing options we are putting in place, it will make that easier for our partners.”
Monié also noted a key value proposition that the Ingram Micro team continues to focus on. “We work hard to understand our vendors’ offerings, technologies and strategies, and then help you work with them.” That includes investing “in knowledge” of the channel supply chain and everyone who takes part in it. From training programs and staging, to financing and implementation, the role of the value-added distributor has never been bigger.