Between membership groups like VentureTech Network and SMB Alliance, and special interest groups around system architecture, physical security, data capture and point of sale, and more, being fully engaged with Ingram Micro can result in a solution provider being on the road a lot.
That won’t necessarily be the case this year, though, as the distributor is looking to streamline its event schedule, combining the majority of its biggest events into spring and fall gatherings under one roof and under the new IMOne name.
IMOne events, slated for May 7-10 in New Orleans, and September 21-24 in Las Vegas, will combine VTN and SMBA, as well as groups focused on healthcare, public sector, physical security, Ingram’s Systems ArchiTechs group, and more under one roof.
“Think of that as one main-stage presentation, a week-long event,” said Mark Snider, general manager of Ingram Micro Canada, on a recent edition of the ChannelBuzz.ca Podcast.
Among the distributor’s major events, only its annual Cloud Summit – which last year surpassed its VTN Invitationals to become the distributor’s largest annual event – remains a standalone show, slated for April 7-9 in Hollywood, Florida.
Ingram has a number of reasons to combine the shows. It makes travel schedules easier both for its customers and its own team, and it introduces economies of scale. Snider hinted that with the shows combined, and a total of some 1,600 solution providers slated to be in attendance for IMOne, it will be able to bring in more high-profile keynoters for the event, further raising the profile of the show.
Bringing the shows also has the potential to allow solution providers to “mix and match” their schedule, and to broaden their horizons to the distributor’s offerings. A solution provider may not be involved enough in DC/POS or physical security to warrant at least two or three days out of the office to attend a topic-specific event hosted by Ingram, but when the time commitment is a couple of hours during an event they’re already attending, that solution provider is much more likely to see what it’s all about.
This is especially true for Canadian Ingram Micro partners. While not all elements of some of the focus groups will be relevant to Canadian solution providers (its U.S.-centric public sector events come primarily to mind), the IMOne approach should afford attending Canadian solution providers an option to check out parts of Ingram’s practice that haven’t yet grown to the point of having their own Canadian chapters (or events) as yet.
The distributor appears to be planning show-wide main stage presentations, with various groups then going out and holding their own meetings during the week. While there is definitely potential benefit to this kind of cross-pollination, there is also some risk to the approach. A good part of the “magic” of groups like VTN, for example, comes in the relationships built amongst members. And those relationships are largely forged and reinforced during the twice-annual meetings. Will the larger scale of IMOne be as supportive of those connections and relationships as the smaller scale VTN Invitationals have proven? Only time will tell.
But Ingram is clearly betting that an easier schedule, and access to more and varied content will trump any challenges the new event model may bring. Plus, it will allow Ingram to boast events of a huge scale compared to those run by their competitors.
“We’re going to have more than 1,600 customers out to this. It will really show the strength and scope that Ingram Micro can provide to the community,” Snider said.