Tech Data has shifted its strategy to focus more on enabling partners rather than distributing hardware, according to group marketing director Andy Dow.
Speaking at Tech Data's Live event at Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey, Dow (pictured) said that the distributor's most important role is no longer supplying products to partners, but making new technologies and solutions accessible to them.
"One of the things we are trying to show here is that it isn't all product," he said.
"We distribute enablement now. We aren't marketing products anymore, we are marketing enablement. It is about how we enable partners to leave here capable of doing something they couldn't do when they came.
"The end user's solution is driven by needing different mixes of technology to come together, and you're going to need someone to pull it together."
While hardware still makes up the lion's share of Tech Data's business, Dow said that products are now being sold as part of an overall solution - rather than in isolated transactions.
He pointed out that there were virtually no products on display from the vendors at the event, aside from a handful of laptops and devices, saying this is proof that partners now need their distributors to help them consult on projects - rather than sell them hardware.
This year's event saw 800 resellers registered to attend, compared with fewer than 200 in 2017.
While the biggest resellers in the channel can bring together technology from multiple vendors, Dow claimed, smaller partners should look to utilise the capabilities of distribution to do this.
"We have tried to build this event around that mixture," he said. "Most of the areas you'll see are combining two or three different vendors.
"Does a reseller have all the skills and knowledge to be able to do the whole end-to-end solution? The big boys absolutely do. They have it and they can invest in it.
"If you go in saying 'I'm only good at this bit' you won't get the same fluid solution that the customer needs."
Dow also claimed that smaller resellers should partner with each other so as not to fall behind their competitors.
"We are at an interesting stage in the market where some of the new solutions are going to be life changing for the end user, but are quite a big step for a reseller to invest in," he said.
"But they have to, otherwise someone else will grab the space, so it is about how we can enable them to get into that technology quickly. That is one of the big drivers for us.
"Quite often in the SMB space the solution is as heavy as a corporate solution and a reseller may be very good at some parts of it, but it is better to collaborate with like-minded resellers which have the part of the jigsaw that you don't have."
Contingency plans follow Carillion's demise earlier this year
Oliver Tuszik says partners can boost subscription sales by taking a customer experience-led approach
Firm says enterprise business has performed 'weaker than originally expected'
Top executives from nine VARs, including Computacenter, Bell Integration, XMA, ANS and Epaton, weigh in on which server, storage and networking technologies will be red hot next year