Paul Bay’s four C’s for channel success

Ingram Micro North America boss Paul Bay says the biggest opportunities in the channel come down to change, consolidation, consumerization, and complexity.

Ingram Micro North America president Paul Bay

Ingram Micro North America president Paul Bay

LAS VEGAS – Ingram Micro North America president Paul Bay offered the company’s solution provider customers a simple guide to what he calls the biggest opportunities and challenges the channel faces over the next three to five years. Bay, speaking at the distributor’s One Ingram event at Aria here, said the four biggest factors facing the channel are change, consolidation, consumerization, and complexity.

On the first, Bay told attendees that change continues to accelerate, as does the technology lifecycle, and urged partners to “make sure you’re relevant when change occurs,” speaking to the need to evolve offerings and messaging for changing customer needs and wants.

The second, consolidation, speaks to a number of things, not the least of which is the expected wave of acquisition in the solution provider community as many of the “first generation” of venerable solution provider owners look to cash out in the coming years. But it also speaks to vendor acqusitions and consolidations, and the need for vendors to find those rare partners who can effectively represent all of their wares.

“Our vendors are looking to align with partner who may have been entrenched in one technology, and move out into new areas,” he told attendees.

Consumerization, he said, is a major factor because of the shifting demand it creates. Solution providers would be wise to take a look at the expectations consumer technology is creating in the workforce and “take everything we have in a consumer world and bring it back into the enterprise,” Bay suggested.

And finally, complexity, the longstanding driver of the channel and the driver of the oft-stated “where there’s mystery, there’s margin” mantra.

“Complexity excited me more than anything else, because that’s why we’re going to win,” Bay said. “These offerings we’re trying to solve for create more complexity. And wherever there’s complexity, this industry has thrived by figuring out how to tame that complexity.”

Bay urged solution providers to take a long term view, and to develop and refine long-term strategic plans on a regular basis, one that takes into consideration the solution provider’s core strengths, as well as how marketplace demand is shaping demand for those strengths.

“Know your team and their capabilities, know where you can grow in your markets, know how you can provider that complete solution,” he said.

Bay also touched on Ingram Micro’s recent rebranding and new logo, debuted this summer, and its new slogan “realize the promise of technology.” A brand-centric video to start his presentation took an interesting tack, presenting the distributor to an end-user audience that is not likely immediately familiar with the Ingram Micro brand. “Wherever technology takes us, one thing is sure: you’ll never have a day without Ingram Micro,” the video concluded.

Bay said the rebrand spoke to the changing priority at the company – one seen by its moves in forming vertically-focused units and doubling down on advanced technologies, and even seen on a solutions showcase showfloor that wasn’t built around vendor booths, but rather around technology opportunities.

“IT’s not just about selling products, it’s about selling solutions,” Bay said, putting another (perhaps the final?) nail in the longtime and increasingly false value vs. volume distribution dichotomy.