Ingram Micro is looking to make robotic process automation (RPA) an even more significant part of the channel’s future with a partnership with UiPath.
RPA is an increasingly prominent part of the broader move towards digital transformation, a way to more completely automate back-end processes and time-consuming tasks, and it’s been an area the distributor has been focusing on with its Centers of Excellence worldwide. UiPath is an essential vendor in the space and primarily sold in a direct motion until recently. But Sabine Howest, vice president of global partner engagement and IoT at Ingram Micro, said the company is moving more towards a partner-led model to scale in the midsize and smaller business markets where VARs and MSPs dominate the route to market.
“They need a partner like Ingram to really bring scale and efficiencies, to build out the indirect channel business,” Howest said.
It’s a new relationship in much of the world and aimed at a very traditional space in the channel Venn diagram. It’s a vendor that is a leader in its field but comparatively new to the channel, in a rapidly-growing area of interest for businesses, where many solution providers don’t yet have established vendor relationships, skillsets or experiences. It’s an area where Howest said the distributor could fill in a lot of gaps.
“It’s not yet right in the wheelhouse of the standard reseller partner, and we’re offering them an opportunity to get into a very heavy service business they may not have been active in or specialized in,” Howest said.
It’s an opportunity for solution providers to build their knowledge up and start offering new services to customers in an area not yet saturated with partners and a field where many solution providers will find interest in their existing customer base. Howest said even more traditional VARs could lean on Ingram’s bench for the most technically taxing parts of an engagement while focusing on more familiar territory like endpoint attachment and virtualization.
Howest said there’s a lot of “low-hanging fruit” to be found in customers who have large back-office teams ready for automation. In the early days of the partnership, Howest said, the distributor will focus on turnkey solutions to address those obvious opportunities, like building a chatbot or turning Excel metrics into an automated workflow.
From there, Howest suggested Ingram would focus on enriching its RPA offerings through services, orchestration layers, and embracing complementary technologies like OpenShift and other automation offerings.
“We need to bring an end-to-end value proposition, including orchestration layers that are adjacent with other vendors and OEMs,” she said. “The idea is that our country teams will build out a true practice that can help resellers get started, even if it is just going after the low-hanging fruit. We aim to build it out and allow them to go deeper. It’s a great step into AI and coding and building unique [intellectual property] for customers.”
The relationship is new for Ingram in the Americas and most of the rest of the world. But the two have worked together in India since 2018 and have also worked together in China. Howest said that beyond that, Ingram has built up skills and experience in using UiPath solutions with the company as a customer.
“We’ve used it in our own plumbing,” Howest said.