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How Ingram Micro is innovating to empower channel partners

Ingram Micro helps businesses fully realise the promise of technology – helping them maximise the value of the technology that they make, sell or use. With its vast global infrastructure and focus on cloud, mobility, technology lifecycle, supply chain and technology solutions, Ingram Micro enables business partners to operate more efficiently and successfully in the markets they serve. Dr Ali Baghdadi, Senior Vice President and Chief Executive – Ingram Micro – META and Senior Vice President and Chief Executive – Ingram Micro Cybersecurity, tells Intelligent Tech Channel, how the company has been pushing an innovation agenda to help generate significant business for channel partners. By Manda Banda.

Global value-added distributor (VAD) Ingram Micro is on a mission. It’s mission is a simple one: continue innovation in order to empower the channel in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META). No other VAD delivers as broad and deep a spectrum of technology and supply chain services to businesses around the globe like Ingram Micro.

Over the years, the VAD has been amplifying the value of its position at the intersection of thousands of vendor, reseller and retailer partners by customising and delivering highly targeted applications for industry verticals, business-to-business (B2B) customers and commercial needs.

From provisioning solutions for systems integrators working at the heart of the network to offerings through the full lifecycle of mobile devices, SMB to global enterprise software and computing, point of sale (PoS) to cloud services, professional AV to physical security—Ingram Micro is trusted by customers to have the expertise and resources to help them define and push the boundaries of what’s possible with technology.

The company supports global operations by way of an extensive sales and distribution network throughout North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa (MEA), Latin America and Asia Pacific.

Today, Ingram Micro boasts local sales offices and/or representatives in 64 countries, has 189 logistics centres and service centres worldwide

Representing over 2,000 suppliers, including Acer, Apple, Cisco, Citrix, HPE, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung, Symantec, VMware and others. In addition, the global VAD serves more than 250,000 customers in approximately 160 countries, where it is creating growth opportunities within the hard to reach SMB market as more businesses use technology to add scale, enhance services and improve productivity.

In the MEA market the company has been ramping up channel schemes and readying its army of solution providers to prepare for a post-pandemic business upswing.

Dr Ali Baghdadi, Senior Vice President and Chief Executive – Ingram Micro – META and Senior Vice President and Chief Executive – Ingram Micro Cybersecurity – EMEA, said the state of the channel market in the MEA market at the moment is in good standing and the company had anticipated to see an increase in bankruptcies and industry consolidations because of the Coronavirus pandemic. “I expected to see a rise in bankruptcies and consolidations during the pandemic, but this did not happen. In fact, the demand on technology has risen in 2020 and continues to be on the rise,” he noted.

Baghdadi said one common challenge in the channel is delays in debt collection. “So we as Ingram have had to step in and launched the Ingram Micro Financial Services in the region. Another challenge relates to the cost of logistics and reliability of freight,” he added. “But at this time, a key challenge is based on the global chip shortages. This, however, is driving channel partners to focus on other tech segments like security.”

From the start of 2021 Ingram Micro’s focus has been to capitalise on the opportunities that have emerged or presented themselves as a direct result of the pandemic. This has meant the global VAD has been rolling out initiatives to help solution provider partners navigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

“Our focus has been and continues to meet the demand generated by work from home (WFH) and on securing people working remotely or in the hybrid office/home environments,” he said. “Our chosen solution areas have proven to be right and have helped us and our partners to have record performance. So, we continue to focus on cybersecurity, cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), unified communications (UC), remote service delivery and endpoint technology of all kinds.”

In addition, Baghdadi said Ingram Micro has been helping and encouraging reseller partners to be transparent if they are experiencing any difficulties as a result of the challenging times that the regional channel is experiencing. “We want our partners to know that they can talk to us if they are having financial problems,” he said. “We are also urging them to get enabled in new areas of technology such as cybersecurity and cloud, and we can help them.”

With Ingram Micro ramping up its channel initiatives around cloud services, cybersecurity, financial services and onboarding new vendors solution providers in MEA have been spoilt for choice, technology solutions and IT services available to them. “We established a Central Cybersecurity CoE (Centre of Excellence) to support all of MEA, this was followed by the establishment of a Centre for Artificial Intelligence which has launched our AI Academy. This along with other centres of expertise in Cloud and IoT have been setup to support our channel partners,” he said. “All countries get our focus and each has its opportunities. Our footprint covers Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and all of French speaking Africa.”

Given that some companies have adopted a hybrid working policy, Ingra Micro has been following government guidelines in positioning itself to ensure that businesses in the MEA market continue to utilise solutions within its stable that support remote working.

According to Baghdadi, Ingram Micro follows government guidance in different countries it serves as well as its common safety measures should they be stricter. “That said, we continue to invest in many programmes that support our employees who work from home. It is not easy for some to operate from a home, but we have managed to provide the necessary support in terms of equipment, training, health, advice and more,” he added.

Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, the MEA channel has encountered other challenges not least the currency fluctuations in many emerging market in Africa, lockdown restrictions and limited number of staff  working from the office, all making it difficult for some resellers to forecast and plan for their business properly. “From a technology standpoint, I believe it is chip shortages and travel restrictions. Of course, some market segments which are suffering economically, like tourism and travel segments have a big impact on partners focused on these areas,” he explained.

Looking ahead, Ingram Micro is optimistic that the opportunities that have emerging as a result of the pandemic will foster a culture on innovation and is a huge focus in 2021 and beyond. The global VAD is preparing its channel partners for these new initiatives.

“We have exciting initiatives that go beyond providing solutions from other manufacturers and vendors. We have already tested some products that we have developed which complement and drive our vendors’ technology and generate significant business to our partners. Watch the space,” he said. “We continue to drive AI, cybersecurity, Financial Services, Cloud and much more. New channel programmes and initiatives will be announced and rolled out in a planned and timely manner.”

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