The successful distributors and resellers of tomorrow will sell either datacentre kit or client devices - but not both - as BYOD increasingly forces procurement of the latter outside of the IT department's realm.
That is according to Fabian von Kuenheim, the outgoing boss of pan-European VAD Magirus, who caught up with CRN as he gets set to take on his next challenge in the industry.
Both Magirus and the global distributor which acquired it - Avnet - focus on the datacentre space but many of its rivals straddle both the PC and enterprise IT markets.
Von Kuenheim - who is already sizing up several potential roles in the industry across Europe - said distributors and resellers must quickly choose one or the other as BYOD transforms the device market into a consumer/retail-only business.
The skills involved in marketing to the enterprise IT buyer and consumer are vastly different, meaning that anyone attempting to do both would have to at least split their business in two, he argued.
"Consumers are taking over the purchasing of devices and this means this business has become a consumer/retail-type business and will completely disconnect from the classical enterprise-focused datacentre business," he said.
Those pursuing the former route will provide datacentre equipment and the software needed to integrate the devices, perhaps even defining a framework for which devices employees can purchase, von Kuenheim said. But it is the user that will own the purchasing decision, he added, even if their employer bankrolls the purchase.
"I think resellers - and automatically also distributors - will have to adapt to this reality very quickly. They have to decide if they are datacentre focused or consumer focused, but they cannot be both," he said.
A fond farewell
Von Kuenheim (pictured, below) called time on his 25-year stint at Magirus last week and is already assessing several potential projects in the UK, Germany, Benelux and Italy that straddle IT and the manufacturing world in which he cut his business teeth.
The Magirus name was retired in January but von Kuenheim claimed the Magirus culture lives on and argued that - despite a few "hiccups" - the integration process has so far progressed smoothly.
Even in the UK, where Magirus and Avnet both had a relationship with EMC, headcount has fallen just 10-15 per cent, he said, with total staff numbers down from just over 600 to about 550.
"It's mostly management- and some minor back-office - functions that have been streamlined and there will be more, but this is not a dramatic cut. Most of the back-office streamlining was in Germany, which from a social point of view was easy as there is no unemployment in Stuttgart."
This relatively small number of redundancies should be no surprise, he added, given that the duo's line cards were mostly complementary.
"In the UK, and Austria, there was an overlap with EMC and there was an overlap with VMware in the Middle East. Most of the business was additional. Huge layoffs haven't happened yet and I don't see that happening."
Von Kuenheim said there is a potential for Magirus to integrate the two firms' logistics capabilities - Magirus has a warehouse in Strasbourg and Avnet near Brussels - but any decision on this would not be taken until at least the end of next year. Customer-facing roles are not under any threat though, he said.
"We were a fast-growing business before the acquisition and growth has accelerated since the acquisition," said Von Kuenheim. "We are the largest EMC distributor in Europe and are growing above 20 per cent with them and we are growing at over 30 per cent with Cisco. If you grow, you need more people. Avnet and Magirus both had very loyal customers and it has been relatively easy for Avnet to say ‘now we've bought Magirus we also have direct access to EMC'."
Avnet also bought Magirus' HP and IBM business in 2007, meaning that former Magirus staff now form the rump of most of its European operations, the exceptions being the UK and Benelux.
"In the UK, after we sold the IBM business to Avnet several people who left and we rehired didn't want to go back [to Avnet] again. It's a cultural point and a normal part of the process," he added.
While there is a lot of talk of the "fourth industrial revolution" in the manufacturing industry - where machines, industrial equipment, work pieces and system components will soon be able to exchange data in real time - von Kuenheim said this concept had not yet been interconnected with the IT industry.
Several of the potential roles he is now looking at are at firms that can bridge the gap between these two worlds.
"At the end of the day I am an entrepreneur so it will be something entrepreneurial," he said. "I am more interested in taking a share in a company than being a hired manager."
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