In examining the distribution landscape across Australia, one piece of the puzzle always remained missing.
Forever seen dominating the showcase floor at global conferences, the Tech Data proposition didn’t quite travel to Australian shores.
Until September 2016 that is, when an agreement was struck for the Florida-based organisation to acquire the Technology Solutions business from Avnet in a US$2.6 billion deal.
Fast forward to February 2017 and the deal was complete, paving the way for the world’s second largest distributor to arrive on local shores.
Ending years of speculation in the process, Tech Data enters 2018 aiming to immerse itself deep within the heart of the Australian channel.
“It has been quite a smooth transition as Tech Data did not have a footprint in the Asia Pacific region,” observed Wendy O’Keeffe, country general manager of Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) at Tech Data.
More than three months after being appointed to the role, following the departure of Darren Adams in July 2017, O’Keeffe has overseen the coming together of two titans of distribution, while crafting a new- look channel strategy along the way.
“Our integration team has been busy ensuring we are all migrated to the new systems and are fully enabled in their use,” O’Keeffe said. “We have also moved to Tech Data processes and procedures, and embraced the new Tech Data core values and branding which came as a result of the new brand launch in September.”
For many partners however, a change of logo doesn’t equate to a change of approach, placing an immediate urgency on Tech Data to hit the ground running with new ideas, new solutions and new ways to add value.
This can’t merely be just a rebrand, it must represent a much deeper purpose for partners.
And following a year of wide- ranging change, at leadership, management and vendor level, the Tech Data that has emerged out of the ashes of Avnet will be defined by an ability to distribute differently.
Because Australia has inherited an industry behemoth, operating across 100 plus countries, serving over 115,000 customers through more than 50,000 daily transactions.
Second only to Ingram Micro in terms of size, scale and revenue, Tech Data is a US$36 billion global business.
“Tech Data provides tremendous value in supplier depth both globally, regionally and locally,” O’Keeffe said. “It will be our intention to support our global suppliers by providing a platform for them in this region.
“We will work towards leveraging some of the tools that Tech Data has developed as well as leverage the intellectual property they have built over the past 40 years in business in order to do so.
“We want to become essential in their ability to meet the evolving needs of the technology market particularly as partners require more global reach.”
In a world where success is never final, and failure is seldom fatal, O’Keeffe is spearheading a Tech Data team armed with a refreshed go-to- market strategy.
With the acquisition dust settled, and in looking ahead to 2018, O’Keeffe said Tech Data will be defined by four core areas, spanning people, marketing, cloud marketplace and partner tools.
“Firstly, we are investing in our people strategy,” O’Keeffe explained. “This means we will be hiring more staff to help service our customers and suppliers. “We will be adding more customer facing staff in some key markets in A/NZ, both client executives and technical experts as well as building resilience in our internal support functions.”
Alongside the addition of O’Keeffe, Tech Data also recruited former Insight commercial sales director, Pia Broadley, as new director of sales and operations across A/NZ.
Coming on-board in October 2017, Broadley is tasked with refining the distributor’s local go-to-market strategy and operational models, leveraging more than 15 years of channel experience.
Previously, Broadley held sales and operations leadership roles with Express Data — and then Dicker Data — operating as partner services manager and, most recently, commercial sales director for Insight.
Furthermore, David Charlton joined as director of business innovation across A/NZ the month prior, recruited from telephony reseller, ABTC Group.
In this role, Charlton is tasked with driving net-new supplier business across the data centre and next-generation technology sectors, focusing on technologies such as cloud, mobility, security, networking and the Internet of Things (IoT).
“Secondly, our marketing efforts and activities will be centred on creating and building lead generation, focused on solutions which align with our suppliers needs, in particular around the mid-market and commercial,” O’Keeffe added.
“Thirdly, we will be driving aggressive expansion of our cloud marketplace, with the addition of new suppliers and growing out our channel partner community.”
O’Keeffe said the marketplace acts as a “one-stop shop” for partners, offering solutions from cloud service providers, backed up by flexible payment models and a cloud management toolset.
The marketplace represents a full range of industry-leading cloud and technology provider solutions that can be combined and managed together for greater efficiency.
“And finally, Tech Data has some amazing partner tools that we can leverage, so we will be selecting those tools that will have the greatest impact on enhancing our customer experience,” O’Keeffe added.
In an increasingly competitive market, O’Keeffe — who was inducted into the ARN Hall of Fame in 2011 — acknowledged that differentiation will be key to partner success.
“It’s obviously an incredibly competitive market out there so being able to differentiate their offering to include, services, pre-sales support and key next-generation technologies is critical, as well as leveraging their distribution network to help fill gaps in expertise,” O’Keeffe advised.
Leveraging wide-ranging distribution experience, following roles at Westcon-Comstor, Tech Pacific and Dicker Data, O’Keeffe said partners must create specialised plays centred around deep levels of expertise.
“It’s about determining where their strengths lie,” O’Keeffe added. “Look to distributors that are already specialists in this area to take them to the next level, faster.”
But distribution is a crowded market, so how does Tech Data stand out from the competition?
“Our passion is for connecting the world with the power of technology,” O’Keeffe said. “This year our partners can expect to see an increase in value as it relates to technical know-how, providing more support to help generate business opportunities and enhancing our line card offering.”
From a solutions perspective, Tech Data’s strategy during the next 12 months will be shaped by a blend of core and emerging technologies, such as big data and analytics, cloud and security, alongside networking and the Internet of Things.
“By sharpening our focus as a solutions specialist in these areas, we help our partners take advantage of these technologies to transform their own businesses both in terms of technology and the way they consume these new technologies,” O’Keeffe said. Consequently, O’Keeffe said business consumption models continue to change across Australia, driven by “disruptive” technologies and business models.
“End-users are also demanding rapid transformation and availability, requiring solutions providers and distributors to be more strategic, understanding how technology affects their customers’ end-user clients,” O’Keeffe added.
“This way they can deliver technology in the way that the customer wants to buy, and provide it on-demand through cloud and subscription services.”
Since the acquisition closed in February 2017, the new-look Tech Data has continued to bolster vendor offerings locally, evident through the unveiling of Informatica to the Australian channel in June 2017.
Alongside new partnerships with Datadobi and Pitney Bowes, the distributor is now an authorised reseller of VMware’s education services locally, alongside winning distribution rights to the Red Hat Mobile Application Platform.
“2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Tech Data,” O’Keeffe said. “We are reinvigorating the way we work with our current vendor partners to drive enhanced outcomes for our reseller partners.
“We are always looking to expand our portfolio and with Tech Data’s vast line card we intend fast tracking some of those vendor relationships to ensure we can provide the best comprehensive collection of data centre and next- generation technology solutions to meet every aspect of our partners’ needs.”