SYNNEX execs outline where they are placing their bets

In two wide-ranging executive panels at Varnex, SYNNEX’s top executives indicated where they see the industry heading, what SYNNEX is doing to capitalize, and how solution providers can best leverage both the changes and the distributor.


From L to R: Kevin Murai; Bob Stegner; Tim Rush, Mitchell Martin, Alan Buttery, Peter Larocque

ATLANTA – On Tuesday at SYNNEX’s Varnex event for their top SMB-focused partners, the distributor’s most senior executives took the stage in two panel discussions where they outlined where they see the industry going and how SYNNEX can best respond to the changes

“One session is called ‘Business’ and one is called ‘Strategy,’ but it’s really about the opportunities, where we think the market is going and where we are making our bets,” said Kevin Murai, SYNNEX’s President and CEO.

Murai emphasized that SYNNEX and its customers need to balance that fine line between seeking out new opportunities while remaining strong in the legacy businesses which still return the majority of revenues.

“In the 27 years I’ve been in the tech industry, I haven’t seen change as rapidly as in the last couple of years,” Murai said. “However, with all the exciting growth technologies, there is still a large legacy tech we sell every day that is going to continue to be big and continue to grow. You have to have an eye on that, and what is going to be growth going forward.”

Murai indicated he thinks today’s ‘hot’ technologies are still several years from being the major money-makers, but that it is coming.

“The core technologies are still the biggest part of IT, but 3-5 years out, the majority of growth will come from cloud, mobility and Big Data,” Murai said.

Peter Larocque, SYNNEX’s President, North American Distribution, also noted that SYNNEX is still investing heavily in its legacy operations.

“We have a business to run day to day, and we invest in our inside and outside sales teams, engineering tales and product teams,” he said. “In 2013 and 2014, we grew our investment in headcount in the core by over 10 per cent. Our basic core growth areas continue to grow like crazy. We have doubled down in the core, and beyond it. We have a lot of new services we have added that will really prop up your business.”

Larocque then outlined where, beyond the core, SYNNEX is putting additional investment to drive growth.

“The first area is mobility, where we continue to make significant investments,” he said. “When folks like Intel get behind things like the Internet of Things, that really moves the dial.”

The second area is the cloud, and SYNNEX’s CloudSolv business.

“Kevin Murai has gone on record in saying it is our number one investment,” Larocque said. “Rob Moyer [who leads SYNNEX’s Microsoft global business unit] is driving a community of our CloudSolv business, and the number one priority is to get all of you [Varnex members] to participate in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program.”

Larocque also indicated that with Microsoft Server 2003 support coming to an end, SYNNEX is putting new investments in the data centre business. Security and compliance are also receiving priority investment, as are solutions relating to Big Data and storage.

“We are seeing our server business go through the roof, because a lot of it is appliance-based storage,” Larocque said.

Kirk Nesbitt, SYNNEX’s VP Design & Support Services, counselled Varnex members that the distributor is seeing Big Data opportunities that go well beyond the conventional perception of where this market is developing.

“Big Data opportunities are materializing all over,” he said. “We have seen one with a local newspaper — not a mammoth organization. We are building out a program to support this and the hybrid cloud, where we will have training for you and support you in the field with technical and training resources. For many of you, Big Data and private clouds are likely new, and you won’t have the resources initially to take advantage of them.”


From L to R: Eddie Franklin; Keith Jalbert; Bob Stegner; T.J. Trojan; Kirk Nesbitt; Steve Jow; Peter Larocque

Eddie Franklin, VP, Sales, Public Sector, at SYNNEX, stressed the need for solution providers to be proactive and bring new trends to their customers.

“Don’t get caught up in the next quarter,” he said. “Look down the road. Don’t wait for the customer to bring you the vision – the business problem to solve. Look at the trends that are out there and take those trends to customers. In the public sector, that trend is the movement from regulated to the Smart City and the Digital City. How do we as an ecosystem make the Smart City a reality, not just a concept? It’s where the cloud was 3-5 years ago. By delivering a vision of what it could be, you can future-proof your business, and make sure you are part of the go-forward.”

Developing the capability to provide a full solution offering, not just one part of it, has become more important than ever, in a time of such rapid change, said T.J. Trojan, SYNNEX’s SVP of Product Management.

“If you are just providing one part of the solution, you are at risk someone else will provide the whole thing, with the convergence that is happening,” Trojan said.

Alan Buttery, SYNNEX’s SVP, Financial Operations, reminded solution providers of the importance of using SYNNEX’s financial leverage, particularly SYNNEX’s RISE!

“SYNNEX RISE! takes the credit limit part of a transaction off the table, and gives you another element in your toolkit,” Buttery said. This can sometimes mean bumping up the limit to do a deal, sometimes extending special terms, and can even involve greatly outstripping the customer’s normal limit, to the point where it is larger than their equity, working capital or even the total assets of the company.

“We can become your back office across any vertical market, including the federal space, Buttery said, noting that federal business-focused solution providers are making the most use of RISE!.

Bob Stegner, SYNNEX’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, North America, re-emphasized a theme he stressed throughout the entire event, that SYNNEX and its Varnex partners need to intensify their collaboration, and become more like a retail voluntary association of independent businesses, like True Value Hardware.

“It’s important as we go forward that we become more of a single entity, to make sure we are looked at as one by the vendors,” he said. “That should be your key takeaway from here – working together more effectively as a group. Our next goal is to put a service network together for you, that will give us the ability to go on to version 2.0 and the things we can put in place for that.”

Steve Jow, SYNNEX’s SVP of Sales, remarked that over Varnex’s history, the spirit and feeling has already changed significantly, to that of a community working together as opposed to a bunch of individuals.

“When we first started this community, I didn’t get it as much,” Jow said. “As we have progressed, I’ve seen how it’s getting people together to come up with a lot of good ideas, which we can turn back into programs.”

Canadian Varnex members were specifically told to leverage the distributor more, in the U.S. as well as Canada.

“We are a North American community, and to a degree the Canadians are missing out,” said Kirk Nesbitt. “Leverage us! Presale support tickets have seen a spike, but are still not at the levels they could be. The support is there for you in the US and Canada both.”

“You have our phone numbers, you have our email addresses,” said Keith Jalbert, Vice President, Commercial Sales, at SYNNEX Canada. “Pick up the phone. It automatically forwards to my cell phone and the same is the case with most of the other executives.”

“Relationships matter,” Peter Larocque concluded. “We can’t help you if we don’t know you.”