New tools. Continued momentum. Unwavering focus on partner transition.
That’s the message that distribution giant Tech Data is sending this week at its TechSelect Partner Conference underway in Henderson, Nev.
The TechSelect organization, which is Tech Data’s advanced group of key customers including VARs, solution providers and IT consultants, turns 15 years old this year. Some of the company’s most progressive partners, the TechSelect organization represents roughly one-quarter of Tech Data’s business in one form or another. In the second quarter of this year, they grew as a group a healthy 6 percent, based on Tech Data’s bookings.
Joe Quaglia, president of the Americas business unit for Tech Data, made the case that Tech Data is the best distribution partner for advanced IT solution provider organizations. Quaglia reminded attendees gathered here this week of the company’s market advantages and core strengths in areas such as product breadth, financing, inventory, IT systems and more.
Tech Data has the lowest SG&A in the business and the most efficient supply chain in the industry, he said. As a proof point, he said nearly 99 percent of orders received on any given day are out the door by day’s end. And he said Tech Data will never compete with partners by selling directly to end customers, “[un]like other organizations.”
As for systems, Tech Data announced enhancements to its Software License Selector, its online tool for managing software order inquiries. Introduced in 2011, the Software License Selector was developed to reduce the software licensing process from days to minutes, offering customized solutions and order accuracy, according to the company.
The enhancements provide solution providers with improved order accuracy thanks to a new, intuitive interface, advanced address book with search capabilities and broadened browser support.
“We want to go back to grass roots and try to help you become more effective leaders and better businesspeople,” said Pete Peterson, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Tech Data.
To that end, Tech Data showcased a number of thought leaders who provided unique perspectives on the state of the industry. Cisco senior vice president Carlos Dominguez, for example, purposely set out to make partners feel “uncomfortable” and “see the world from a different perspective.”
His message to TechSelect attendees: Partners have to learn to simultaneously discover new things and deliver on existing promises. The yin and the yang of these different pursuits is difficult to realize because they require different skill sets and ways of thinking. But partners who can operate efficiently and effectively while also peering ahead and anticipating customers’ needs and business trends prevail over those who focus on short-term opportunities exclusively.
As a reminder of how far computing has come in recent decades, Dominguez pointed out that NASA went to the moon in 1969 with less computing power than what could be found in a year 2000 Gameboy. He also said that by 2020, three quarters of the companies that comprise the S&P will be companies that “we haven’t yet heard of.”
Change management, he then went on to say, was one of the most important skills partners need to develop.
“Why do most companies fail?” he asked attendees. Because they are unable to keep up with demographic changes, new technology and alternative business models that challenge how they presently turn a profit. Those partners who can master change will not only survive but thrive as well.
“It takes a lot of guts to know the world has shifted because experience is so much of what we rely on to make decisions,” said Dominguez. When you think about successful futurist such as author Arthur C. Clarke or technologist Ray Kurzweil, they are able to do three things that most people cannot, he said. That is, understand the power of exponential growth, track trends and embrace new technology.
In another address, Lenovo sales ambassador Stephen Miller said his company was outgrowing the market and defying expectations because it was doing these three very things effectively. The company’s success in PCs, tablets, and servers didn’t come from having a lower cost basis than its competitors per se, but instead came from better anticipating customer needs and demands.
“Everyone loves the story that we’re able to take a business (PCs) that was costing IBM $1 billion per year and turn it into a profit center. But they don’t always understand how. I don’t mind that people see us as a more efficient operator than IBM or Google, but there are broader reasons why we are becoming the successful brand that we are,” said Miller.
His company’s goal in the immediate future: turn the money-losing IBM X-based server business and the money-losing Google mobility business, both of which Lenovo acquired this year, into winners.
“With partners’ help, we can get there,” Miller said.