Ingram's Bradley Sees "Pockets of Opportunity" for VARs

Ingram Micro executive Keith Bradley says the distributor is developing a framework that will help make its VAR customers more targeted and successful.

February 11, 2009

Al Senia

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A top executive with distributor Ingram Micro (NYSE:IM) believes there are still "pockets of opportunity" in the current downturn that VARs can capitalize upon, but to succeed channel partners "must be much more realistic" about how they center their efforts.

Keith Bradley, president of Ingram Micro North America, said in an interview with ITChannelPlanet that server, storage and datacenter virtualization represent the strongest opportunity for VARs, along with mobility and networking technologies.

"This downturn is very different than the downturn in 2000 and 2001," Bradley said. "There are still pockets of opportunity out there."

To succeed in the current challenging environment, however, Bradley warned that VARs need to demonstrate to business customers "a very compelling return-on-investment."

One concern is that businesses might postpone their IT spending decisions this year, underscoring the importance of demonstrating a strong ROI when VARs make their technology pitches to customers.

Top Technology Growth Areas

Bradley added the distributor is culling its own end-user database to identify the top 10 technology growth areas, a process that could take several months. The company intends to develop a "strategic play book" for its VAR customers that will highlight the growth areas and provide the framework that helps VARs successfully sell these technologies. "It's going to be a much smarter and very targeted approach (to sales)," explained Bradley.

He said Ingram Micro will become much more proactive in identifying and equipping its VAR base to successful make technology sales. "We want to do a better job identifying the framework by finding the (growth) areas, building a compelling ROI and suggesting the products," Bradley said. "We'll play a much larger role at Ingram to aggregate this framework and make it more affordable to do it, as opposed to saying to the VAR customer, 'You are the VAR. Just go ahead and do it.'"

Bradley noted that the current emphasis on SaaS and managed services is "one silver lining" that businesses are willing to consider as they downsize operations. However, to capitalize on such hosted solutions, VARs must be willing "to change their business model in a small way."

The Ingram Micro executive also noted that the economic stimulus package winding its way through Congress should provide a much-needed jolt to the technology industry. "There is about $100 billion earmarked to the tech sector," Bradley said, noting that automation of health-care records, technology innovation in schools and rural broadband rollouts are all part of the current plan.

He added that Ingram officials will take the next month to study the details of the large package. "We want to understand how the government is going to get involved, how it is going to get that money into the marketplace," said Bradley. "Will it be through grants or accelerated depreciation schedules or some other way?"

(Al Senia is managing editor of ITChannelPlanet.com.)

TAGS: virtualization,datacenter,VARs,Ingram,Storage

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