The new division is focused on digital operations, as part of what Ingram sees as a modernization of the distribution industry by using AI and machine learning to improve the customer experience.
Distributor Ingram Micro has announced the hire of four senior executives from outside the company to join its newly formed Global Digital Solutions [GDS] organization. Each brings long-standing digital skills commensurate with their new roles at Ingram
The new team was assembled by Sanjib Sahoo, Executive Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at Ingram Micro, who joined the company in June 2021. He came from a logistics company, XPO Logistics, where he had been Chief Information Officer, Transport, responsible for digital innovation and transformation. Before that he spent almost a decade as CIO and CTO at ETrade, and had earlier held technology leadership roles at several finserv companies, including Deutsche Bank and Citibank.
“I have been involved in digital transformation in two different industries and then logistics, and am now creating this digital journey for Ingram,” Sahoo said. “It’s not a digital transformation, which is an older and broader concept. It’s digital operations, which is the foundation of what we are doing here. Our focus is creating really amazing experiences with B2B and B2C platforms.”
Sahoo said that this reflects the fact that the distribution industry needs a modernization and a makeover to reflect the extreme importance of data with machine learning and AI.
“Mukund Gopalan, the Chief Data Officer, came from Facebook, but has more than 20 years experience in building platforms around AI and machine learning,” Sahoo stated. He has led the build and operations of end-to-end scalable data solutions for large eCommerce brands. His role at Ingram Micro is to oversee all global data engineering initiatives, including data analytics, AI and machine learning driven engines and data architecture.
Ajay Agarwal, Chief Product and Platform Officer, formerly at Amazon Web Services, and with 25 years in product and engineering leadership, has a key role in spearheading the product and platform management of Ingram Micro’s digital transformation.
“We are trying to solve the problem in the industry where improvement as a whole product mindset is required,” Sahoo stated. “This means moving from a project mindset to a product mindset where you look at the whole product, and not look at it as a SKU that you sell. What this will do is move from creating an eCommerce website to creating an experience to improve the whole B2C experience.”
Zlatan Dzinic joins from Amazon Studios, where he was Head of Architecture, as Executive Director, Enterprise and Solutions Architecture. His job at Ingram will be to architect and oversee the complex development cycles powering Ingram’s new digital commerce platform.
“Modernization really requires focusing on architecting to be nimble on the cloud,” Sahoo said.
The fourth incoming executive is Andrea Chin, who becomes Executive Director, Digital Program Management Operations. Most recently, she managed the Estée Lauder Companies IT Portfolio Book of Work. Her job is to drive all program management activities across Ingram Micro’s digital landscape.
“Planning and governance is critical and she has experience in managing hundreds of programs,” Sahoo emphasized.
While these leaders are new, the GDS organization itself reworks parts of Ingram that existed before, but have been reorganized to improve digital operations.
“We had some of the technology as part of the IT operation, and some as part of the operational business organization,” Sahoo said. “We have consolidated this to make sure we operationalize it better, and we aggregated people from different parts of the organization. Innovation first and adoption second doesn’t work.”
Sahoo said that Ingram’s Flexible Subscription Engine, which rolled out in the U.S. late last year, is a good portent for partners about the kinds of initiatives they can expect to see from the GDS.
“In November we announced our Flexible Subscription Engine, which manages recurring services and product solutions together,” Sahoo noted. “We are working on a series of new engines to give new functionality to partners that will provide a single pane of glass experience. For the vendors, we will help them get more visibility. It all boils down to one thing – an ecosystem which takes complexity out and connects customers with the vendors much more easily.”
Sahoo also said not to expect a flood of new digital-oriented vendors on Ingram’s line card.
“It’s more about improving the focus of our existing vendors – driving more automation, giving them more data back, and helping them structure their solutions better,” he stressed. ‘Our first goal is to help them and improve this experience.”
Similarly, Sahoo said that if the GDS makes it easy for channel partners to work with them, he expects many partners will adjust their business models to adopt them.
“As we build a single pane of glass, our goal will be to get them to engage with us,” he indicated. “If customers find it easy, they will use it. If you make it easy, customers will adopt. We are going in the right direction.”