Intel articulates new vision and where partners fit in at Intel Partner Forum

Intel recently introduced new CEO Pat Gelsinger to partners at the Intel Partner Forum, together with his vision for bringing partner-centric prosperity to all. Intel also provided updates on channel issues, marketing, and core areas of the business.

Pat Gelsinger Intel CEO

Intel, under the leadership of new CEO Pat Gelsinger, has a multifaceted strategy to return Intel to broad and uncontested leadership in the semiconductor space. And partners will play a key role in making this happen. In a nutshell, that was the messaging in the recent Intel Partner Forum.

“We are no longer just a CPU company, and offer exceptional breadth and depth,” said Gelsinger, who returned early this year to the company where he spent most of his career, following a successful twelve-year stint at CEO of VMware.

He began by reiterating for the Forum his IDM [Integrated Device Manufacturing] 2.0 mode, an evolution of the company’s strategy which he had unveiled some weeks before, and which has three fundamental components.

“It’s an elegant strategy only Intel can deliver,” he stated. “It consists of Intel’s internal factory network for at-scale manufacturing, building on our strategic third-party foundry capacity, by expanding existing relationships with third-party foundries, and building a world-class foundry business, Intel Foundry Services.”

Gelsinger emphasized for partners that he sees partners as fundamental to the success of this initiative.

“I have asked our partner-facing teams to listen and understand to truly know your challenges and opportunities,” he stated. “I have asked them to be relentless advocates. I also expect you will execute with discipline. My expectations of you is that you will push us to be your best partner.”

Michelle Johnson Holthaus, Intel’s EVP, Chief Revenue Officer, and General Manager, Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, stressed to the Forum that since his arrival, Gelsinger has completely reinvigorated morale at the company, which had lost some ground to AMD following that competitor’s reinvention of itself.

“Pat is so bold,” she said. “He has great ideas, and a great vision for the company. Employees see an opportunity for us to win. Customers and partners now have a different level of optimism about our future.”

Intel had enjoyed a position of dominance in the data centre several years back before AMD’s comeback, but Johnson Holthaus said that the new competitive landscape is better for Intel than the old.

“People talk about competition like we shouldn’t have any,” she said. “But it makes us better. At the end of the day, it makes us better listeners. We have probably the broadest product portfolio of anyone in the industry going to market around this as well. We are now doing more direct hard-hitting marketing talking about the advantages of our x86 ecosystem. Since Pat has come on board we are fired up, and we will win.”

John Kalvin, Vice President and General Manager Global Scale and Partners, emphasized that partners and the new Intel Partner Alliance are central to this.

“I have asked our team focused on partners to focus on helping partners win and be successful,” he said. “We have to make sure we integrate fully across the ecosystem, and bring them together so they can partner with us and partner together to help solve problems. What we do is inherently complicated, but we have to make the choice to make it simpler.”

Kalvin said that Intel is working hard to get technical bugs out of the Intel Partner Alliance  since it went live in January, with its objective of bringing together all Intel’s siloed partner programs into one ecosystem.

“Some partners have had challenges in access to the portal – things like that,” he said. “We are working to get through those very quickly. We also have big ambitions over the next few years to add new capabilities in.”

Lucas Martinez Diaz, Intel’s Channel Sales Director and IoT lead for the Americas, said the IPA encourages specialization, which is critical to partner success.

“The challenge for now is complexity, but opportunity is that solutions are not very easy to replicate,” he noted. “Partners say they are fighting for 1% on pricing to win a deal, but when they get into a vertical, or act as a consultant, the amount of competition is smaller. So if you can solve that complexity, you face way less competition.

Martinez Diaz also emphasized the IPA’s centrality in fostering broad collaboration between partners as well as with Intel.

“It’s always through the ecosystem because we cannot be in every place,” he said. “We rely on the ecosystem for almost everything we do. Moving forward from COVID, we will also need the ecosystem to work together. Some awards we just gave out to partners were based on this working together between ecosystem players.”

The Canadian award winners recognized at the event saw Compugen win for PC Client Solution, Canada Computers for PC Client Platform, Memory Express for NUC Solution, and Evertz Microsystems Ltd for Data Center Solution. Hypertec won for HPC Solution, Videri North for IoT Disrupted Technology, and Baüne for Best Innovative Solution, which was around COVID-19. Softchoice won the  Channel Cares award.

Intel also emphasized that SMB-focused partners are critical to their system during the Forum. They featured Forest Computers of Winnipeg, which does a lot of work in small doctor and dental offices, and their CTO, Paul Profeta, and Ops Manager, Stewart Hayek.

Julie Malloy, General Manager of Global Partner Marketing for Intel, detailed the company’s new marketing initiatives that will impact partners,

“We have made several changes to put the power of our ecosystem in the spotlight,” she said. “In 2020, we relaunched Intel’s brand, transforming the iconic brand with a new logo. We are laser focused on having a prominent voice in B2B marketing.” She also emphasized key messaging around Evo vPro, a  new joint Intel-Microsoft industry campaign, and a new signature event series, IntelON, which will launch later this year.

“We will work alongside you to enable better visibility in your solutions, and we will continue to invest in a robust Intel Solutions Marketplace,” Malloy added.

Intel also provided updates on what is happening in specific areas of the business. Rose Schooler, Corporate Vice President, Global Data Center Sales, emphasized the growth in data centre-focused partner course completions, webinars, and partner solutions in the Intel Solutions Marketplace. Brad Haczynski, VP and GM for IoT Global Sales, stressed the advantages for IOT-focused partners in the new IPA,  with the advantages of access to the broader Intel network. Dermot Hargaden, VP and GM, Sales & Business Management, Programmable Solutions Group, focused on the importance of the new FPGAs and Agilex, stating that the customer base has been waiting for this kind of innovation. Steve Long, CVP Global Sales & Marketing – Client Compute Group, stated that the PC category is alive and well and more essential than ever. Finally, Rob Crooke, SVP and GM NVM Soutions Group, discussed the implications of the sales of the NAND SSD business to SK Hynix, and how partners would be central in this.