GTDC’s Curran Talks Industry Past, Future on Eve of Exit



This week we learned that Tim Curran, CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) for the past 16 years, is stepping down.

Given the enormous changes in the technology industry – from a shrinking distributor footprint as a result of mergers and acquisitions, to cloud computing. digital disruption and born-in-the-cloud vendors and partners, the GTDC board has much to consider when selecting its next CEO.

In the interim, when Curran retires on Jan. 2, Kavita May, senior vice president of planning and operations at GTDC, will fill the slot.

GTDC's Tim Curran

GTDC’s Tim Curran

“Pricing, credit and on-time delivery remain critical, of course, yet by no means define what distributors and solution providers are all about in the digital era,” Curran said in a keynote at the consortium’s 2018 summit in September. “It’s now about strategic problem solving that distributors, solution providers and vendor partners conduct together on all fronts.”

That’s not the only change taking place in the distribution sphere. How about distribution as a service? The landscape of services offered by the tech-distribution industry has multiplied over the past few years; for example: vendor planning and marketing; solution offerings and education; financing and channel management; deployment and post-sale services, and life-cycle renewal and disposition.

Channel Partners sat down with Curran to discuss the challenges ahead for distribution, the GTDC, as well as his tenure at the organization.

The GTDC is a worldwide industry organization dedicated to defining and promoting the role of wholesale distribution in a successful and healthy information technology channel. Its mission is to articulate the value of distribution to the vendor community. The lion’s share of channel partners rely on distribution for products and services.

Curran, who has been teaching at the University of Florida St. Petersburg for the past 10 years, will continue to teach there after wrapping up his tenure at the GTDC.

Channel Partners: You’re at the end of your road with GTDC. Reflect back on the early years with the organization and why you took the job.

Tim Curran: Very early in my career, I got a Ph.D. from Columbia in international political economy, so I’ve always been a passionate globalist who thinks that the world can benefit if we all work together.

I took the job because I was interested in global affairs. I built out the organization into Europe, Latin America and Asia. Our biggest event of the year is the GTDC Summit that takes place in California, and last year we had 70 IT vendors attend, covering hardware, software and cloud. In one day, they could meet with key distribution partners.

We also hold a big event in Europe, a smaller meeting in Latin America, and we’ve had some preliminary meetings in Asia to try to do the same thing.

CP: What was the GTDC like when you joined — the days of pick, pack and ship?

TC: It had just gotten off the ground and was struggling a bit. We built it out. I started a database program whereby all the distributors submit their sales-out data (they can’t see other distributors sales data) but they can figure out their own market share. The databases are used by distributors to track their performance. That helps to financially support the organization.

When we started, we had six or seven distributors — and now we have 24. To be a member, if you’re a U.S.-based company, you have to have $1 billion in sales, and if you’re an international member, you have to have a minimum of $500 million in sales. We wanted to create an organization that …

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