Ingram Micro seeks to bring B2C experience to B2B channel: CEO

Ingram Micro North America president Paul Bay

Paul Bay, CEO of Ingram Micro

Ingram Micro wants to be “the business behind your brands,” new CEO Paul Bay told the company’s solution provider customers at its ONE Ingram Micro event in Orlando Tuesday.

The most significant value the company can bring its partners, he said, is to make business easier for its solution provider customers. That’s why the distributor has spent so much time investing in and talking about customer experience. Bay said Ingram will strive to “take a B2B industry and give it a B2C experience.”

There’s plenty of opportunity, but running a business is complex, and the pace of innovation in the technology sphere only adds to that, Bay said. So partners should depend on Ingram to make it easier. Bay made the case that too many solution providers spend too much time on aspects of the business that add little value to what they bring to their customers. For example, he said, the distributor’s U.S. organization takes 2.4 million calls from solution providers asking after order status a year.

“What happens if we free up that time so you can have proactive conversations?” Bay asked. “We’re going to get way more proactive, apply all of the information we have, and we’ll be able to have a different conversation with you, and you’ll be able to have different conversations with your end users.”

He said Ingram is transforming itself into “a platform business.” And if all of this pitch sounds like what the distributor is saying about its newly-launched Xvantage digital twin, that’s because it is. Xvantage is clearly where Ingram is betting the industry is heading, putting all of its tools and information under one roof and applying as much machine learning and AI as possible to streamline the everyday and surface new opportunities.

Distributors have long sought to reinvent how they present themselves in the market. In his presentation at the event, Kirk Robinson, president of Ingram Micro’s North American business, reminisced about the days when the main value distribution brought to the table was in the number of products it could deliver and the points it could shave off the price for those products.

“Oh, how times have changed. And so has the value that you add,” Robinson said. Now, that value is increasingly around the business value that technology unlocks.

Robinson credited partners with their role in delivering “two of the best years in the company’s history” over the last two years, despite the laundry list of challenges that ’20, ’21, and ’22 have thrown at all of us. He noted Gartner numbers projecting global IT spending growing at a five percent year-over-year clip for the next few years.

“More and more enterprises will spend more on digital transformation,” Robinson said.

That does not mean they will spend that money well. Sanjib Sahoo, chief digital officer at Ingram, noted that more than 80 percent of digital transformation efforts are considered failures, putting the price tag for those flunked efforts at $1.9 trillion.

“Failed digital transformation is the 9th biggest GDP in the world,” he said.

But that won’t, and shouldn’t, discourage companies from pursuing those investments. Sahoo made the case they just had to make them smarter.

For his part, Bay stressed that Ingram would invest in its digital transformation and that of its solution provider customers.

“We’ve got a multi-year plan, and we’re investing. No matter what happens in the industry that we can’t control, we’re investing,” Bay told attendees. “We want to have the right business outcomes, at the right time, with all of you. That’s what’s important to us.”

There’s still a lot of transformation to come at Ingram and in the channel, Bay suggested. In his estimation, the industry needs to move from a model built around transactions to one based on interactions.

“We’re still in a transactional business, all of us,” Bay said. “We need to change that.”

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.