Distributor Avnet Technology Solutions is changing up its go-to-market a bit, aligning its business around some of what it feels are the biggest opportunities for the channel going forward.
Under its new model, Avnet has announced global business units focused on data centre, cloud, security and enterprise networking, data analytics, cognitive computing and Internet of Things, and mobility solutions. The distributor will also continue to focus on training partners on key vendors’ solutions with an Education Services division in the Americas and EMEA.
In all, the distributor says it has more than 450 technology specialists on staff to help solution providers tackle those opportunities, and that number is set to grow.
“We feel this approach is what the market needs, and it will empower our customers and suppliers in these areas, with the ability to draw upon our dedicated resources to drive better outcomes for their customers, and greater revenues for their firms,” said Gavin Miller, vice president of marketing and strategy for Avnet Technology Solutions.
The change will see the distributor offer a more similar set of specializations worldwide, although regional leaders will still be able to decide on priority areas in their market, Miller said. In the past, while some areas (data centre) have been worldwide in nature, Avnet has also had some technology specializations that are stronger than others in certain regions. For example, its cloud business has been more advanced in North America than elsewhere, while its security practice has been more established in EMEA.
In the past, Avnet has most closely identified itself with the data centre piece of things, with other technologies stemming from that. With this change in go-to-market, the distributor seems to be putting an emphasis on software and on changing models that value subscription and -as-a-Service types of sales more highly than capital expenditure. Brian Aebig, vice president of Avnet Technology Solutions Canada, said the model continues on Avnet’s traditional stance of specialization, a stance which has “proven to be successful wherever we’ve gone.” But with the market shifting so rapidly to new business values and new sales models, the distributor had to make a change, even if it may feel like the distributor is a bit ahead of some of its traditional customers in so doing.
“The market is changing so rapidly that it’s demanding the supply chain innovate, and compensating the supply chain for that innovation,” Aebig said. “This shift may feel difficult and premature in some resellers’ eyes, but we’re providing a vehicle to help them do it, to take advantage of the innovation that their customers are asking for.”
Miller said that especially in the Americas, the distributor has been acquiring a number of services-centric companies over recent years, and it’s from those acquisitions that its services and technical abilities will come, particularly in areas that are newer to both the distributor and the channel, in fields like analytics and Internet of Things.
At first glance, the shift would seem to downplay the importance of vertical expertise. Indeed the distributor is aligning itself more closely to technology areas, whereas under its previous SolutionsPath go-to-market, there were a mix of technology and vertical practices. But Miller said he believes vertical expertise within a technology area is “a key to how a partner can articulate their value and the solution in the industry,” and that vertical expertise will remain an important element within the technology specializations, particularly in areas where vertical segmentation is important, such as Internet of Things.
“We’re not abandoning our previous approaches to vertical markets,” Miller said. “This continues to build on the success we’ve had around that, while focusing on the next-generation technologies that are driving the market around the data centre.”
While the major focus vendors — the HPs, IBMs and Ciscos of the market — continue to be important keystones in Avnet’s line card with this alignment, new areas of focus will likely result in new complimentary vendors being brought on, as Miller suggested that finding the right accompaniments to core technologies “drives those core suppliers even further” with both channel partners and customers.
Aebig suggested that the changes the channel has seen to date are likely little towards those they will see, and said Avnet sees a role in working more with solution providers ranging from ISVs to system integrators to cloud solution providers to traditional resellers to cobble together solutions that meet customers’ business needs.
“I believe the current definition of the IT supply chain will be revisited, and in the third platform, supply chain will no longer be defined the same way. It’s about producers and consumers, and you may be a producer in one areas, and a consumer in another, and then back to a producer a third field,” Aebig said. “In that kind of environment, it’s a community of people brought together across the Avnet community that will most effectively solve customers’ business problems. With these changes, we want to break down the walls and make it easier to collaboratively bring solutions to market, moving towards that end state.”
While the specialty areas mentioned above are the initial focus for the distributor, Aebig stressed the model is designed to be flexible, for new units to emerge as technology and business trends continue to shift.
“I fully expect the number of specialty business units to grow over time, and more units to emerge within each unit as well,” Aebig said.