New Intel Canada Chief Bullish on Economy

Intel Canada country chief Graham Palmer

Intel Canada country chief Graham Palmer

It’s been just a month since Graham Palmer arrived in Canada to head up Intel’s business here as country manager, but he’s already noticing the difference. Not so much the linguistic or cultural differences – Canada’s not all that different from his native U.K. – but the economic differences.

Arriving from a country where the recession has been hard-felt, and where government has been tied up in bailing out a flagging economy, the situation in Canada looks pretty good to Palmer.

“Folks here may not appreciate it, but the GDP growth we’re enjoying here in Canada forms a strong foundation for business growth going forward,” Palmer said. “I wouldn’t say the situation is wildly positive here, but it’s more positive than a lot of the world. And that’s a foundation we can build on, an opportunity for Canadian businesses on a global platform to gain a greater footprint.”

The 25-year Intel veteran arrived in Canada in early April, moving from country manager for the United Kingdom and Ireland, to country manager here. While it’s new territory for him, the move does bring some family links closer – Palmer’s wife is Canadian-born.

His new role is a familiar one, and a comfortable one. Palmer said he likes the “holistic, integrated approach” that having a country manager in charge of both sales and marketing in a given country affords Intel execs.

“We’ve got from consumers through to the enterprise, channel, and everything in between,” Palmer said. “It gives us an end-to-end view.”

The Canadian market is far more SMB-centric than is the market in the U.K, and Palmer said he’s been impressed with the partners he’s met so far.

“This is a very agile group that’s very innovative,” he said. “And when it’s turbulent, there’s lots of opportunity from a partner perspective.”

Aside from getting acclimated to his new homeland, Palmer said he has his eye on two major initiatives. The first is “understanding the breadth of our resources” in Canada, a market he considers one of the company’s best-kept secrets. For example, Intel owns Toronto-based CognoVision, which makes audience measurement software for digital signage – but that story is probably under-told in the market in general, and in the channel in specific.

“We need to understand the breadth of value we can bring to our mutual customers,” he said.

The other major opportunity is the PC refresh. While various numbers of the millions of PCs globally that are getting long in the tooth, Palmer sees a tremendous refresh opportunity closer to home. The company recently completed a survey that showed that almost half of Canadian consumers have a PC in use that is four years or older.

“We need to help our partners understand how to go faster in that area,” he said.

Is there a “killer app” to drive the upgrade? Maybe not a single one. But Palmer said that between the advances in mobility, security, horsepower, and power consumption over the last four years, there’s certainly a compelling story for partners to tell.

After all, during transition is where market share is gained or lost, and Palmer believes that the channel is innovative enough, and nimble enough, to make those transitions and realize the opportunity around trends like cloud, tablets, and other mobility technologies. And then there’s the aforementioned economic climate, which “shouldn’t be underestimated” in Palmer’s estimation.

“We have a head start on the rest of the global economy, and we need to build on that.”