ChannelWeb: How are you settling into your new role? What has been the first thing you have done with the business and what are your plans and priorities for 2010?
MS: Just over two months into the role and I am pleased to say it’s good to be back at Ingram Micro UK and I am relishing the challenge that the current UK economy brings to our marketplace. Having worked with many of the staff in my previous tenure and with so many recognisable people still in the industry in both the vendor and reseller community it has taken no time at all to settle back in.
One of my first priorities this year was to re-establish my strong links with our vendor and reseller partners and to ensure that we remain integral to each other’s businesses and are therefore building mutually beneficial partnerships. It is also very important for Ingram Micro to remain visible and approachable externally and to this end I have got out and about meeting all our partners so as to listen to what they need from their distribution partner so we can reflect such feedback in our go to market strategies.
Across 2010 we will have a number of plans covering all parts of our business including building on the back of our successful CCD acquisition in the value segment as well as continuing to develop our core business. From a market perspective we will be looking to support a number of areas including SME, which is a segment whereby we have seen solid year-on-year growth and one in which we continue to invest in programmes ourselves and in conjunction with our vendor partners.
ChannelWeb: How is the integration of CCD going? Can you tell our readers how it has fitted into Ingram's business model, how the staff has fitted into the overall Ingram team and your plans going forward?
MS: The integration of CCD has gone well for us. Over the past few months we have successfully integrated the teams and the two businesses now share common systems, physical locations and back office support to bolster the customer facing teams which have remained structured and operating as they were previously. We have further added incremental marketing and credit support to the business unit to provide a stronger go to market package.
The sales and product team reside in our Maidenhead location where we house our “Value” based businesses including networking, server, storage, security, DC/POS and services. This alignment of businesses works well because the different teams can collaborate closely to provide total solutions to a customer’s needs.
ChannelWeb: Are there any new product/vertical areas that you would like Ingram to get into/vendors that you want to partner with? Or existing areas that will be further developed this year?
MS: We constantly review our vendor and product portfolio to try and ensure we have a “one stop shop” range available for our partners which will allow them to be competitive and successful in their market. We currently carry a large portfolio of vendors and associated products that cover the majority of technology areas required, allowing our customers to either procure stand alone products or integrated solutions. In this regard we will continue to look for new opportunities while at the same time are closely monitoring product areas that are underperforming and take action when required.
We recently added the HP infrastructure technology into our networking, storage and security practise and we will continue to look for incremental opportunities in this space as for example investments in the data centre and virtualisation are forecasted to remain strong both short and long term and a lot of VARs are asking us to support them in moving up the value stack in their own business models. Ingram Micro launched its own “Software Asset Management” practise earlier this year as a differentiator and business enabler to support partners in looking to improve their profitability within their installed base.
Other areas such as mobility and the use of the PC and its related peripherals continue to evolve and we will remain at the forefront of this market promoting the latest technologies and looking for the new opportunities that come into the marketplace. We will also look to build on our DC/POS offering as we see growth in that market segment and new entrants are coming into the market as resellers continue to see convergence opportunities in this space.
ChannelWeb: CCD was quite a significant acquisition in the UK last year - are there any more acquisitions in the pipeline?
MS: We are very happy with our CCD acquisition; this was a great opportunity to add a successful and experienced value team to our company, extending our solution offering to our customers. I hope you can appreciate that we’ll only comment on acquisitions when we have something to announce.
ChannelWeb: How do you think the outcome of the election will affect the IT industry?
MS: Probably like most others we are being cautious in our view of the impending impact of the general election; this is a question constantly being bandied around our industry and one to which no one has the answer. We do see some nervousness in the market due to the uncertainty; although, we are currently seeing solid forecasts over the coming months in varying segments.
ChannelWeb: What are the biggest issues facing distribution in 2010?
MS: The challenges facing distribution in 2010 are fundamentally no different to previous years. However, in an unpredictable market I actually see distribution being more important than in more certain times. In more buoyant periods you find companies making their own investments and taking some risk. However, when economic times are tougher or more unpredictable you see a higher degree of outsourcing, and this is when distribution can come to the fore.
In this regard I actually think there will more opportunities that come to the channel via a two tier model and we are already starting to see this in various segments of the market as some of the larger vendors are becoming more channel-centric. The distribution companies that are financially strong will be able to leverage their strengths and capitalise on these opportunities.
ChannelWeb: Is credit still a major issue for the channel this year? How is Ingram planning to support its reseller base on the credit front?
MS: The access to trade credit continues to be instrumental in maintaining the momentum of returning the channel to growth throughout the course of 2010, particularly given some of the responses to the credit crunch by banks and insurers alike. The provision of regular financial data will aid this process and increase the appetite of all involved to provide appropriate credit facilities.
This is an area where we have taken some major actions in supporting the market and we continue to build upon the close partnerships with our resellers to secure additional credit through a series of initiatives. These include the expansion of our successful CreditBuilder program where resellers have the opportunity to grow their credit facility rapidly and we also offer guidance to resellers for leasing programs [including zero per cent finance for some products] to accelerate the purchasing decision. As a market leader, now is the time to continue to support the channel and further enhance our approach as business enablers.
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