As the world's largest chipmaker, Intel has very well established relationships with the multinational systems vendors and local builder community. But despite all of its products being sold indirectly through a wide variety of channels, it has historically had limited engagement with systems integrators and value-added resellers. In the first part of an in-depth interview with ARN's Brian Corrigan, Intel's local general manager, Philip Cronin, reveals plans to build bridges.
What can we expect to see from Intel during the next couple of years in terms of engaging the channel?
We are looking at a couple of key areas for our local business and the evolution of channels is an important one. We currently have a relationship with large multinational customers that are manufacturing product, and the local PC building community, but there's this large group in the middle that we haven't really engaged with.
We are now looking at how we go to market through the value-added reseller and integrator community. This will include establishing programs that reach out to them, education and training, and company development work. I want to understand how they go to market so we are doing a lot of research with companies like Data#3 and PKBA.
As the market changes over the next 3-4 years to an increasingly mobile model, with the introduction of new legislation around broadband in the next few years and the implications of that for business as well as the suppliers of product, it's important for us to be ahead of the curve. If we are to be serious about technology leadership, which we pride ourselves on, we have to be part of the dynamic change within those segments of the market.
How does a component vendor engage with resellers and integrators?
It's arguable that the value on either side of the equation is not quite understood but we have value to add at the product and sales engagement level. It's too easy to step away and say the product is already built into system so there's no need to worry about it. Unless we are advocating the user benefits of the technology, and the applications of that usage from the healthcare industry through to the education sector, then it's easy in time for people to take the lowest common denominator and just sell whatever is cheapest. Frankly, that doesn't serve anybody's purpose - you can't make money as a systems integrator from selling a rock-bottom product. You have got to add value at all levels and part of that is the hardware whether it's a server or a fleet of laptops.
Allied to that, we are bringing new technology in. What we are starting to see in some of our products on the desktop is this management capability we call vPro. This piece of Intel-based software sits on the chip and enables a CIO to manage a fleet of systems very easily from a single console. It's a very simple concept and will be on just about every PC that is manufactured, including those from the local guys, and all the laptops because we introduced it with the Centrino Pro launch.
So you start to see all of those devices coming onto the network, which is a value-add to the user but also to the reseller or integrator because they can sell that as a managed business service. They can start to think about selling software-as-a-service over the top of that. So the proposition to that mid-channel is very clear to us. We can add value both at staff level, in terms of training and knowledge, and at the customer level because of the products we are starting to bring out. When you put the two together it starts to make a great deal of sense that we have to address this community.
How quickly do you think managed services will become the norm for the integration channel?
I think they are going to be first because they already have the knowledge and capability to deliver them. Our role, if we get it right, is to help them get a message to the customer that this is important. How they then turn it into a business is going to be very interesting. Some of the discussions we are having with people like John Grant at Data#3 are around how they can take what we have and build it into their business as a feature that creates value.