Twilight Zone Time? Dell EMC touts value of distribution to partners

Dell EMC’s VP of North American Distribution emphasized why partners need to sell more through distis at the Dell EMC Canada Partner Summit, and while it had the something of the air of preaching to the converted, there was a clear theme being stressed.


David Miketinac, Dell EMC’s VP of North American Distribution

TORONTO – There’s something almost vaguely surreal about Dell EMC  emphasizing the value of distribution to the company’s partners. That was, however, displayed in full force on Wednesday at the   Dell EMC Canada Partner Summit here. David Miketinac, Dell EMC’s VP of North American Distribution, took the stage in a solo keynote to impress upon partners of both Dell EMC’s continued commitment to distribution as the future, and the advantages to partners of working with distribution.

Miketinac is an American who was moved to Canada as VP and GM of what was then the SMB division of Dell Canada in 2011, and became such a champion of the Canadian market and its distinctive characteristics that many people assumed he was Canadian. He returned to the U.S. three years ago, and a year ago, at the end of Q4, he assumed the distribution head role.

“This position was created at the inception of the merger between Dell and EMC,” Miketinac said. “The Dell distribution business had seen such fantastic growth and with the Dell EMC combination, was big enough to have its own business unit.

“Distribution is the future for Dell,” Miketinac stressed. “It’s how our partners want to buy.”

Legacy Dell, of course, was a very different story for years. When Dell introduced its PartnerDirect program – the name being a not-so-subtle hint about the role of distribution in that strategy – they initially announced plans to work with both Ingram Micro and Tech Data on some product lines, but that initiative soon fizzled and Dell dealt direct with its channel. Dell only made a return to distribution in 2014, with Ingram Micro and Tech Data in the U.S., and initially Ingram in Canada, later followed by Tech Data. Synnex was added later in both countries. Arrow handled EMC’s distribution, and that relationship became part of Dell EMC with the merger.

Thus, while outside of North America Dell EMC had — and still has to a lesser degree – an almost bewildering array of distributors that they are still trying to reduce, North America still has those same four distributors.

“We have a challenge globally in having a large number of distributors, and we are rationalizing that around the world,” Miketinac said. “We do not have that problem in the U.S., and we do not have that problem in Canada. We have the “Big Three” – Arrow, Tech Data and Ingram Micro – and a ‘local hero,’ which is Synnex in both countries.”

There is some variation in what each can sell. Tech Data has all four product groups – client, server, storage and networking. Arrow has no client business. Synnex has no storage business, and Ingram Micro has storage in the U.S., but not in Canada.

“Distribution hasn’t been pick, pack and ship for over a decade,” Miketinac said. “The future for distribution is incredibly bright. There are still markets and partners we haven’t reached yet with distribution, but that’s because we haven’t shown up.”

Getting partners to show up – to drive more Dell EMC business through distribution – was the theme of Miketinac’s address to Canadian partners It is doubtful that any of the partners, who from a show of hands universally seemed to use distribution in their business, would need to have an epiphany about its value. Using the full breadth of distribution services effectively to ramp up their Dell EMC business – that’s another matter.

“We had 98 per cent year over year growth for Canada in distribution sales – and that’s coming off a high number, not a low one,” Miketinac said. “Even in a quarter where storage was down in the market overall, the amount of storage we sold through distribution grew. The growth was small, but we still grew.”

Miketinac cited other data extolling the value of distribution. He noted that 96 per cent of orders to distribution ship the same day, and that distributors extend $12 billion in credit globally. He then reviewed the recent data by product group. Clients were good, with revenue up 16 per cent year over year. Servers were not so good, even though there were some positive nuggets.

“Servers are completely underserved,” he said. “Less than 10 per cent of the ISG number is servers,”

Storage was also mixed.

“With storage, we hit our plan and we grew,” Miketinac said. “There is still so much opportunity to take share from our competitors though. Midrange and data protection continue to stall.”

Miketinac concluded with five takeaways going forward for the channel business in Canada through distribution.

“We have to drive server and storage upsell in Canada,” he said. “Being in the number two position in Canada is a clear opportunity. We are losing millions by not showing up.”

Secondly, while there is clearly a need for Dell EMC process improvements to improve ease of doing business with them, Dell EMC partners using distribution tend to be more satisfied.

“Partners using distribution have higher NPS scores,” Miketinac said.

Next came reinforcement of two constant Dell EMC themes since the merger – sell more services, and sell a broader range of the portfolio.

“Focus on upsell services attach,” Miketinac stressed. “Accelerate growth across lines of business.”

Finally, Miketinac counselled partners to drive a best of breed customer experience by not being shy about asking him or his team for support, complete with slides giving their contact information.

“Let us know how we can assist you,” he said.