Digital transformation, third-platform technologies and outcome-based conversations with customers were among big topics addressed during Tech Data‘s Channel Link conference last week in Austin, Texas.
Partners of all types joined 80 vendor partners at the conference. It was geared toward partner opportunities with SMB end users.
The latest opportunities for partners include Tech Data’s Level Up online training and enablement platform, new offerings as part of its RECON security suite, and the #NewTechNow marketing campaign.
Tech Data executives also talked about how the IT distributor has benefited from its $2.6 billion acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions.
Marc McClure, Tech Data’s senior vice president of U.S. commercial sales, said customers’ needs – and therefore partners’ needs – are changing rapidly, and his company’s goal is to help partners make the most of new opportunities.
“If I look across the dichotomy of my base of solution providers, they come in all shapes and sizes, from security-centric to consultant, to data center-centric or network centric, and it’s great to see that specialization, ” he said. “But now what we have to figure out and what we’re working to do is take common solution types that we’re developing, whether it’s under the next-generation technologies or in some of the legacy technologies, and bring them to the right partner — but at the same time, not pigeonholing them into a specific mindset or technology set. So it’s always about engagement and saying, ‘All right, is this still the business you want to be in?’ And if so, how do we enhance it, and if not, how do we help make a transition into a different direction?”
Scroll through our gallery for highlights from this conference.
Name That Tune
Rob Webster, Tech Data
's director of U.S. SMB sales, kicked off the conference with a game of Name that Tune, and told attendees "our No.1 job is to help enable your business and accelerate your growth."
"What's happening is you see that change now where (partners) saw us as a proprietor of products and now they're seeing us as a solution provider to help them with business outcomes, both for them and their business," he said. "And then the end users are asking them for business outcomes, and they may not already know what the answer is, but they know where they can get it now."
Paradigm ShiftMarc McClure
, Tech Data's senior vice president of U.S. commercial sales, said a paradigm shift is taking place in terms of partner opportunities, shifting from 2nd-platform technologies (client/server system) to 3rd-platform technologies
, which includes big data and analytics, cloud, mobility and social, and has evolved to include IoT
, artificial intelligence (AI
) and augmented-reality devices.
"Everything we make an investment in is to help you grow your topline or reduce your costs," he said.
demoed its latest offerings at its booth in the Technology Expo. Phillip Privett, Tech Data’s vice president of technologies and services for Cisco Solutions
, said "when you look at all the product portfolio they have today ... all of [their] offerings lend themselves to 3rd-platform technology," which Tech Data says partners should be focused on with their customers.
"I think Cisco's done a really good job of saying, 'This is where the market's going,'" he said. "And when you look at two companies the size of Tech Data and Cisco, and bringing that IP out to the customer and helping them understand why it's important to make these evolutionary steps, I think that's the value that we bring as a company together."
McClure (left) takes in a demo of Tech Data's Level Up online training and enablement platform. It previously was Avnet's Knowledge Network; Tech Data acquired it in its purchase of Avnet Technology Solutions.
"The intent behind it altogether is, how do we help bring more of our subject-matter expertise, more of our industry expertise to the masses, so to speak, and in a manner that they can consume, and a time and opportunity that makes sense for them?" he said. "We're finding that the consumption of it is very strong. We've launched it in a broader format. The feedback we've received from the TechSelect community is they feel very favorably about it."
Paul Reid, HP
's senior director of U.S. personal systems services and solutions, invited partners to pursue opportunities with the company's device as-a-service (DaaS), which includes 1 million seats under management. HP offers three DaaS plans and has more than 80 DaaS partners.
"Who has a better offering than HP?" he said. "Our scale, our global footprint is second to none. With Tech Data and our (other partners), we can scale globally."
Voice of the Customer
During a Voice of the Customer panel, (left to right) Steven Robb of LaSalle Solutions, Terry Williams of Rhize Tech and
Darrell K. Thomas of Thomas Consultants
talked about how partnering with Tech Data has helped their businesses grow. Williams said Tech Data helped his company "look bigger than we were" to attract customers.
Partners eat lunch and talk shop in the Technology Expo, which featured both big-name vendors, like SonicWal
l and Kaspersky Lab
, as well as smaller, lesser-known vendors out to gain market share and make a name for themselves.
Dell EMCDell EMC
demoed its line of Rugged laptops in the Technology Expo. During the day two general session, Erica Lambert, Dell EMC's vice president of global channel services, advised partners to "dare to redefine," listen and engage deeper, and don't go it alone.
"How you sell is more important than what you sell," she said. "In conjunction with Tech Data, we are unstoppable."
Windows 7 Customer Conversations
In the Technology Expo, partners were shown how to approach and start conversations with customers regarding what they can do to help them with Microsoft’s plan to end support for Windows 7
in January 2020. Tens of millions of SMB users are using devices that are more than four years old, so it’s a “great time to think about refresh” and boost subscriptions, according to Tech Data.
Tech Data, Intel and Microsoft are working together to provide opportunities for partners with Windows refresh.
Day two of Channel Link ended with a party for attendees at Maggie Mae's, a live music bar on Austin's famous 6th Street.
Party Time, Take 2
Partners cut loose during karaoke at Maggie Mae's after a long day of keynotes, breakout sessions, networking and conducting business.