Ingram Micro’s dominant position in the Australian channel landscape is undeniable. But the question of whether a distributor is providing true value to its resellers is just as relevant to a broad-based player like Ingram as a specialist one.
For Ingram Micro’s managing director, Guy Freeland, the distributor proved its value proposition after becoming one of just two organisations to receive double honours at this year’s ARN IT Industry Awards – Hardware Distributor of the Year and Channel Choice Distributor. While he was enthused by the expert voting panel’s decision to pick Ingram for Hardware Distributor, Freeland said the greatest compliment was being named Channel Choice Distributor.
“In many respects, it was the Channel Choice award that was the popular award and was a real buzz for me and the organisation – anyone and everyone has the opportunity to win that category and there’s no way of lobbying. It’s genuinely what people in the channel think about who is providing value for them,” Freeland said. “It pleased us a lot.”
One of the things Ingram has focused on over the last couple of years is building out its Solutions Group.
Freeland said the past 12 months had seen it re-investing and promoting technical support for resellers through its configuration centre and labs.
The distributor’s configuration centre is 500sqm, or the “size of an SMB tenancy”, Freeland said.
“We have realised over the last 12 months that configuration support is a real value-add and the competencies and scale of our facility is something which we didn’t initially appreciate enough as a reseller service,” he said. “The facility was originally built to allow IBM to configure and rollout equipment for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, which gives you a sense of scale.”
Ingram’s HP lab has also been running for some time and the distributor is now working on an equivalent IBM facility to launch early next year. Other technical-led initiatives include implementing SLAs around reseller support. Ingram has also been ensuring its business development managers get out with more resellers who need additional bandwidth to get larger customer deals over the line, Freeland said.
Marketing support was another key differentiator, he said. Ingram now has 10 staff dedicated to marketing initiatives.
“The key to being successful as a distributor is to provide skills and value at a low cost or that are more scaleable than they [a reseller] can do by themselves,” Freeland said. “This year’s awards are a pat on the back for us over 2008 and proof that we managed to achieve this.”