Ingram Micro thinks global with virtual ONE event

Bill Brandel, country chief executive for Ingram Micro Canada

Being as it’s 2020, any events are going to look very different than their organizers probably initially wanted. Ingram Micro is among those taking the circumstances of the year as an opportunity to reimagine what its flagship event is at its heart, as the distributor today will open the “doors” on a virtual version of its Ingram Micro ONE Experience event.

While the ONE name itself was likely chosen to suggest unity — as in ONE event for all of Ingram Micro — the reality prior to this year was that ONE was a series of regional events, a nod to the fact that getting solution providers around the world to the same place and still providing content and information relevant to them is a significant challenge. But with travel ruled out by the pandemic, Ingram’s going for ONE in a sense it has never been able to before.

“It’s going to be 74 countries, 140 broadcast sessions, 270 speakers and over 20,000 attendees are expected to be at this event,” said Bill Brandel, senior vice president and country chief executive for Canada at Ingram Micro. “It’s going to be done in ten different languages, and luckily, I can speak one of those.”

That luck secures Brandel much sought-after main stage time for the second year, as he’ll join his U.S.-based counterpart Kirk Robinson in hosting portions of the virtual general session.

The global and virtual nature of the event also means it’s easier to attract top-level presenters — among the non-Ingram main stagers will be Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins and IBM chief Jim Whitehurst. 

And while a more diverse, and higher ranking, main stage crowd is significant, the real win for Ingram might well be in the larger, and more diverse audience. While ONE events are focused on various aspects of Ingram’s business, the lion’s share of solution providers in attendance at the event have historically been members of the distributor’s solution provider communities, such as Trust-X Alliance. Brandel points out this was in part due to limits on attendance, but mostly because of the cost and time involved with travelling to the event, typically taking up most of a week, and occurring somewhere in the U.S. With the need to travel — not to mention the ability to travel to the U.S. — taken away, Brandel said he expects “an amazing turnout” of Canadian solution providers, both those in the Ingram communities and those who have never been to one of the events.

So what will that expanded user base see and hear at this week’s event? Brandel provides some hints.

In terms of content, the sense of unity is strengthened by the fact that solution providers are tackling the same issues at the same time — namely, the response to, recovery from, and running a business during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. That gives Ingram a unique opportunity to present a very similar message that will resonate with solution providers worldwide.

“I do believe that it’s technology that’s going to pull us through and get us to the other end of whatever the new normal is going to look like,” Brandel said. “It’s going to be a showcase of those technologies, and we’re going to really help our global technology community embrace and adopt some of these new technologies to take the market.”

The format of the event will also be different than what one might have seen at previous ONE events. Brandel said to expect more produced presentations, and more dialogue and interactivity, aimed at getting away from some of the “Death by PowerPoint” that still dominates events. The distributor will also intersperse presentations with bits of entertainment and arts from around the world to further bring home the idea of it being a global event this year, Brandel said.

And while the overall feel of the event is definitely global, there will be lots of local content and networking as well, ranging from Brandel hosting a roundtable with his leadership team to help provide the Canadian context behind the discussion, to fireside chats with senior Canadian executives including HP Canada president Mary Ann Yule. 

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.