At the helm of Ingram Micro

At the helm of Ingram Micro

Ingram Micro CEO, Greg Spierkel, took timeout from a visit down under to chat with ARN about the global economic slump, cloud computing and his instructions to incoming managing director, Jay Miley.

In terms of acquisitions, are you looking to pick up in this market climate?

GS: We never telegraph what we are going to buy and no public company would because it just makes the acquisition targets more expensive potentially. But, and it relates to the points I made before, we’re cash flush and have the ability to acquire if the opportunities look interesting. If you follow us, this year in the past 11 months we have made four acquisitions all in the point-of-sale data capture space: Three of them in Europe and one in China. So we are still acquiring, some of these companies have not been large; they branch anywhere from basically $20 million to $100 million [Australian dollars]. They are not small but not large. Four in the last 11 months means we are still looking and two of those in Europe are closing as we speak.

We are active, but it has to be things that complement the strategy and where we are trying to take things and we are not going to say too much about that. What we do say is there are three or four major areas that are interesting to us. Whether we are going to pick up companies is a function of what’s available in the market and what the seller wants to part with the company for. We look at a lot – there is probably a company a week approaching us in one shape or form globally. We’ll do three, four or five deals a year. A lot of people are hurting right now so a lot of people are interested in selling. Whether it is interesting or not or whether the price is right or not, we make determinations on what makes sense for us.

One of the big trends at the moment is software-as-a-service. How do you view this trend and the way it influences your relationship with resellers?

GS: It is presenting opportunities but every time there is a degree of confusion, it is presenting challenges. I think on the opportunity front we do a very good job with software licensing solutions; we provide services that help customers. We have been looking at software-as-a-service for a while and reselling it to some extent for some partners throughout the world. In other instances, we have tracked it carefully and in North America where it is probably a little more advanced, we haven’t seen a lot of change in the market place.

At least in the SMB market we haven’t seen a lot of change. Some large corporates may be taking out these longer-term contracts and lease structures but we put pieces of that puzzle in place already in North America. We do have networking solutions or operating solutions on a leased structure for software, and network operating centres under a program called Seismic Managed Services, and we are adding software-as-a-service offerings to that portfolio.

Ideally we will try and roll that capability out into other geographies over the next year or two. It is something we are paying attention to but I would say it is not touching the market in a major way yet. But you have to pay attention to these trends and there is a lot going on with cloud computing; you could spend a lot of time just talking about it and what it means to different players. People have been doing that for a long time, it is just getting a different spin right now.

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