Ingram Micro Canada has announced executive and structural changes that show the role the distributor sees for mobility in its business going forward.
Wireless industry veteran Steve Roberts will join Ingram in January in the newly created position of vice president of mobility, with a mandate to grow that part of the business. The distributor also announced that longtime executive Tim Billing has left the company, and his role leading vendor management will be consolidated under current Ingram Micro Logistics chief Lang Moffatt.
In Roberts, Ingram Micro gets an executive with 25 years in the mobility business, and “a bit of a reputation as a mobility guru,” Snider said. Having spent significant time with both Bell and Rogers, he should be able to bolster the distributor’s connections with the carriers on the mobility side. While Ingram is no stranger to either carrier, most of the relationship on the past has been on “the traditional networking side,” Snider said.
The fact that Ingram Canada would shuffle the deck like this – the distributor says it likes to keep things lean with just three vice presidents in the Canadian business – shows that it sees mobility as a key opportunity growing forward.
“It will change the nature and mix of Ingram Micro significantly over the next three years,” Snider predicted of the mobility business.
The mobility play is broad, and while Snider admits there’s an obvious opportunity around the retail market, the distributor’s channel roots show its focus.
“It’s the VAR channel that’s compelling to me,” Snider said. “We do a lot of data service activation with our VARs, but a lot of them are still looking for ways to make money out of this coming convergence.”
A big part of the job for the new mobility business will be in helping those VARs identify and reach profitability in the mobility space. Although the division is still spinning up, Ingram Canada’s investment in the space is already mounting. The distributor this year spent $1.5 million on retrofitting parts of its Mississauga, Ont. warehouse for the mobility business, and has been adopting the system used by Ingram Micro acquisition Brightpoint, a global mobile device distributor that did not previously do business in Canada.
The very fact that Brightpoint, which was based in Indianapolis and operated globally, did not open shop in Canada illustrates that the Canadian market is a challenging one, but it’s a market whose time has come, Snider asserts.
“It’s not an easy market to crack, but we’ve got the synergies to do it,” he said. “There are opportunities in the VAR market, with DMRs, and with the major and emerging telcos as well.”
The challenge for Ingram has been a chicken-and-egg one. Do you build out the infrastructure for a mobility business and then seek the contracts to support it, or do you ink the deals and then build the infrastructure and processes to support it? The distributor clearly has broad plans, but it will be up to Roberts to determine the best route forward for Ingram, Snider said.
Already, the investment is starting to work. Snider reports the distributor launched with its “first major customer” in the mobility space last month, with another one coming on board in the new year. “We’ll build from there,” he said.
As tough as it has been, mobility is a bit of a land grab in the Canadian distribution space right now. Synnex is well underway on its roadmap for bringing its MobilitySolv business to Canada, while new Tech Data Americas chief Joe Quaglia has identified bringing its U.S.-based TDmobility practice to Canada is a top priority.
The mobility push is just one way that the business is changing for Ingram Micro. IM Logistics has been another significant shift for the distributor. At the company’s Ingram Micro Experience event last week in Toronto, Moffatt said that the logistics business – the portion of the business where Ingram supports logstics management but does not take title – now runs neck-and-neck with the traditional distribution business, and some months, is even larger.
Moving vendor management under Moffatt’s logistics-focused bailiwick makes sense because many of Ingram’s vendor partners engage under both traditional distribution and the logistics business, Snider said, particularly its largest customers.
“Now we don’t have to pass them around to different parts of the company to make that happen,” he said.