Ingram Micro did not make any new announcements at their ONE show this week. They did, however, give a sneak peek at some things partners can expect to see in 2017.
LAS VEGAS – At the Ingram Micro ONE event here this week, the distributor made its top North American executives available to media. While no new announcements were made at the show this year, the execs did discuss some things that are on the horizon.
One of them is further automation that will make it easier for partners to do business with Ingram Micro.
“We are investing a lot of money in systematic processes, to make it easier to do business with us,” said Paul Bay, Ingram Micro’s Group President of the Americas. “Today, we make a high number of calls to the vendors regarding the discounts that are provided. It’s very non-productive. That’s the most ineffective process imaginable, given the margins we work with. The issue is how do we automate that whole process. That’s just one example of a systematic enhancement we are working on with our largest vendor partners. We have teams working on it on both sides.”
“We are also putting pressure on vendors to get us more current information on ETA projects,” said Kirk Robinson, SVP, Go-to-Market, Ingram Micro US. “The number of phone calls that go back and forth about this is very inefficient.”
Enhancements are also coming soon to make it easier to do business with Ingram in the cloud.
“We continue to add vendor partners to our automated platforms, and have the ability in real time to provision and manage subscriptions,” said Renee Bergeron, SVP, Global Cloud, Ingram Micro. “We are adding more and more functionality, like integration with their back office systems. The Odin acquisition gave us the ability to control the road map for the software the resellers use, and allows us to continue to improve the functionality directly. In two weeks, we will be going live with a new release that will improve performance. This will set us up for a new control panel in early 2017 that will make it easier to manage.”
Bergeron also indicated that controlling the software themselves will bring about new solutions for partners.
“By being the provider of the software, we have great insight into solutions that are being successful in some other channels, that we can bring back to traditional resellers. It allows us to bring some very different solutions for the reseller channel. A good example is web presence/hosting solutions. These sell very well in the hosting and telecom channels but our traditional VAR and MSP channels have not sold these as frequently. We are now building programs to educate our traditional channel partners and help them take these to market.”
The Odin upgrade cycle is also being changed to make it more partner-friendly.
“Historically, Odin has had bigger upgrades that were heavier to implement,” Bergeron said. “We are moving to more frequent upgrades to make it easier for customers to keep up with new versions of the product.”
“We continue to make improvement in adding specialty technologies, which is more costly, but means partners don’t have to the take risk on the front end,” said Tim Ament, SVP, Advanced Solutions, U.S.
As more individual vendors add their own device-as-a-service offerings, Ingram Micro is working on being able to manage them all, eventually through a single pane of glass.
“We have a very close line of sight on how these different device-as-a-services come together,” Bay said. “There’s a huge opportunity here from a client device standpoint – being able to sell premium products at a lower cost base by bringing in the new technology as a service.” He said that the plan here is to eventually get to one dashboard to manage them all.
“That’s absolutely where we are going,” Bergeron added.
The distributor is also aggressively using its communities –Trust X, which is oriented towards regular inter-partner collaboration on deals, and the somewhat looser and more networking-focused SMB Alliance – to bring new types of partners into the mix and collaborate with traditional ones.
“Because our communities are so strong, we can explore adding new partners with a very specific expertise, like in analytics – partners who are on the edge who we want to pull into the mix,” said Jennifer Anaya, VP, Marketing, Ingram Micro US. “We are exploring how we can do that best through our communities. We have been doing some very creative things there in Brazil and Mexico, bringing everybody together in a very collaborative way, so traditional partners can get to know the edge partners they might be able to add to a solution.”
“It’s not just connecting partners to other ones in our own ecosystem,” Bay added. “It’s getting outside that to bring in new skillsets.”
Changes are coming to allow smaller solution providers who have developed their own service provider offerings an easier route to get their offerings into the Ingram cloud.
“Historically, it has been a challenge bringing VARS who come up with a product into the cloud,” Bergeron said. “We have developed some new technologies to provide more of a self onboarding capability. It’s in pilot right now, but in early 2017, you will see a way for smaller service providers to come into the cloud.”
“I just had lunch with a council member who had been a traditional partner and who now has SKUs on our Cloud Marketplace,” Robinson continued. “We do vet these closely, and not everyone will get up, but it is happening.”
Ingram is also placing more stress on helping vendor partners better communicate their value to solution providers, helping the solution providers make more informed decisions about who to work with.
“We are helping these partners tell their story better,” Anaya said. “We have to get the content out to educate our partners better, and going forward, we will explore some ways to scale this. Many partners don’t have the resources to do that, and we are looking at ways to help them scale that out. We recently helped Juniper crystallize a message to their mid-market partners about what they are about.”