Ingram Micro’s Xvantage platform has gained another audience, as the distributor has extended its AI-powered user interface to its vendors.
Launched last year, Xvantage is positioned as the new way for resellers, Ingram employees, and now vendors to interact with the distributor. It promises seamless access to all parts of the user’s interaction with Ingram and more insights. The vendor experience is now available for select Ingram vendors in Canada, the U.S., and Germany, the first three launch regions for the platform. Sanjib Sahoo, Ingram’s chief digital officer and the primary architect of Xvantage said the goal is to expand the vendor side of Xvantage to as many of the distributor’s vendors as possible over the rest of 2023.
“The most important thing is that it gives channel visibility to vendor partners for actionable data insights like performance, velocity, and real-time business planning,” Sahoo said of the vendor Xvantage experience. “The platform can help vendors design their go-to-market and marketing campaigns and really helps them get an understanding of supply and demand.”
Like the two other “faces” of Xvantage, the vendor side of the platform will be updated regularly with bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features. But at launch, one of the key features is the ability of Xvantage to quickly bring entire vendor catalogues into Ingram’s systems and make them accessible to the channel.
“It eliminates a lot of the manual work and mapping” between vendors’ systems and Ingram’s own involved in adding new SKUs to the distributor’s linecard, Sahoo said.
So while there’s potential for smoother integration between vendors and its largest customers, many of whom have their own platforms for managing such data and information, one of the most significant opportunities around the switch to Xvantage may be the ability to streamline the process for smaller vendors and those new to the distributor. The ability to let AI and ML handle the onboarding of products should make it easier for those vendors to get up and running with the distributor. Ingram has experience on the cloud side of the business in automating the onboarding of new vendors, which will inform how it expands on those capabilities as it moves to Xvantage.
While there will always be some limitations on what vendors can get mind share and shelf space with a distributor, the move to Xvantage combined with the industry-wide move towards subscription and consumption models could change both how vendors work with the distributor and even what vendors get onboarded with Ingram.
Sahoo describes that approach as a broader redefinition of how Ingram thinks of its role in the industry.
“This is how we are becoming more of a platform company,” he said. “A platform company has both the supply and demand side, connecting the OEMs and vendors with the VARs and MSPs. That’s the direction we are moving.”
Sahoo said that just like on the reseller side, the distributor sees Xvantage becoming the primary way vendors interact with the distributor. While there are complexities with onboarding the companies that sell to Ingram rather than those who predominantly buy from it, the Xvantage track record suggests the rollout could be faster than expected. When it launched in Canada last fall, Ingram Canada chief Bill Brandel said its entire Canadian reseller base was onboarded much faster than expected.
Xvantage will likely be in the spotlight next week at Ingram’s first-ever Global Cloud and Innovation Summit in Las Vegas. The event is the successor to Ingram’s longstanding Cloud Summit series, rebranded to highlight critical areas of opportunity outside the cloud as the lines between the cloud business and the overall business continue to fade.