Synnex Plans for Bright IoT, Cloud Future

Craig Galbraith**Editor’s Note: Click here for our image gallery from the Synnex Varnex fall conference.**

I attended my first Synnex Varnex event this week in Anaheim, just down the road from Disneyland. I’d been to the distributor’s national conference before, but this was smaller – about 650 attendees, mostly members of Synnex’s elite partner community – and it made for a more intimate event. The company’s partners could get very pertinent information on industry trends, new technology and more, not only from Synnex executives, but also vendors such as HP, Dell and Lenovo, as well as advice from their peers.

One of those trends, of course, is machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“We’re really seeing the opportunity for our customer … exploding,” Tim Acker, vice president, Mobility, told me. “[But] there’s a lot of hype around IoT and M2M. It’s our job to demystify it.”

To accomplish that, Synnex has a dedicated staff of mobility/M2M specialists to help its partners. If it’s IoT – or any technology for that matter – that a solution provider doesn’t understand, “we engage with them,” Acker said. “That’s a big value-add and a differentiator for us that has paid off.”

Since the lines are blurring between technology trends these days, Synnex has developed a cross-company platform that’s been integrated across divisions. Take its public-sector business, for instance, where IoT, mobility and cloud sales are all growing. This part of the business covers government, health care and K-12 education.

There are a seemingly endless number of ways that IoT and mobility are being applied in these areas. Synnex wants to be part of getting a mobile device in the hands of every K-12 student; penetration is still less than 50 percent. The opportunity in public safety is just as big: Think about the growing call for body cameras worn by police – a trend that’s likely to spread to other parts of the public sector.

“Good, bad or indifferent, there have been incidents that have shown a [technology] gap … a body-worn camera is a great example of something that protects the officer and the citizen at the same time, said Eddie Franklin, Synnex’s vice president, Sales, Public Sector and Vertical Markets. “It’s going to be a new standard, not just for police but for school administrators, social workers, etc. These are all new paradigms … that really start to resonate.”

Partners will play a key role not only in the sales of such devices but also in helping customers understand the large volume of data that they create.

“Anything that has an IP address will be connected,” Franklin added. “It becomes ubiquitous. You don’t think of putting a device out there that doesn’t connect to something that can be monitored.”

To make sure it’s on the right track in the public sector, Synnex has hired some consultants — no, not tech experts – but a police chief and some teachers who can help with the development of solutions based on real-life experiences.

Talk of future growth would be incomplete without a discussion about the cloud. Rob Moyer, vice president, Microsoft Global Business Unit, Software and Cloud Services, noted that cloud, too, is entering the plans of just about every type of business. And he says many partners have passed from the novice stage to an intermediate level.

“We are crossing the chasm,” Moyer said. “The business is moving so rapidly. All you have to look at market caps and technology. Two or three years ago, ‘it’s coming, it’s coming.’ Now it’s here and we’re going to the next level.”

His advice: Don’t stray too far from your core competency when tackling the cloud.

“You have a core business,” he said. “You’re trying to build an adjacent business.”

Varnex panelists shared their challenges and experiences that might help their peers.Helping partners help their customers with cloud adoption is a significant part of Synnex’s professional services unit. The distributor introduced migration services for Microsoft Office 365 at its national conference earlier this year. Synnex assists with managed services, security and more that are major components of a cloud migration.

“I think we’re going to see a real spike helping people [figure out their cloud needs.] We’re going to help them avoid mistakes when they move to cloud,” Kirk Nesbit, VP of Design & Support Services, told me. “Once it’s there, we’ll be able to help them manage performance. We think is a real tip of the iceberg of [how we’re going to be able to help people with cloud.]”

There’s little doubt about the need for those types of services. While solution providers’ are getting more knowledgeable about the cloud and other new technologies, there’s still a gap that can keep them behind the 8-ball if they don’t stay up to date.

“It’s daunting,” said Bill King, VP of Sales with Direct Dial, during a keynote panel featuring Varnex members. “It’s understanding how the landscape is changing – making sure we remain relevant. While we’re optimistic, there’s trepidation on how me move forward.”

And that trepidation could mean losing business.

“The new technology that’s constantly changing … I just want my [salespeople] to be educated,” said Tad Rzonca, president, V3Gate, also a Varnex panelist. “They might uncover the opportunities but won’t be successful if they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Follow senior online managing editor Craig Galbraith on Twitter.

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