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Ingram Micro’s Kirk Robinson: New Ownership Means New Channel Investment

‘Platinum [Equity] is in the business of making great companies greater, and they’re fully prepared to leverage their resources and experience to help Ingram Micro grow. And now that we’re U.S.-owned again, we have additional opportunities, not the least of which is in the public sector market where Platinum has proven experience,’ says Kirk Robinson, Ingram Micro’s chief country executive for the U.S.

Ingram Micro, fresh off its acquisition by private equity company Platinum Equity, is making the investments it needs to help channel partners grow now and in the future.

That’s the word from Kirk Robinson, Ingram Micro’s chief country executive for the U.S., who told an audience of solution providers at this week’s 2021 Best of Breed Conference, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company, that Ingram Micro’s acquisition by Platinum Equity from its previous owner, China-based HNA, is an amazing opportunity for the channel community.

“Platinum is in the business of making great companies greater, and they’re fully prepared to leverage their resources and experience to help Ingram Micro grow,” Robinson said. “And now that we’re U.S.-owned again, we have additional opportunities, not the least of which is in the public sector market where Platinum has proven experience. And of course, we’re also making significant investments in our Advanced Solutions business, including security, data center, IoT and professional services, our cloud services and our consumer business, which now include our mobility business formerly known as BrightPoint.”

[Related: TD Synnex CEO: Tech Data, Synnex Integration Lays Ground For Growth]

To meet the demands of 2021 and the future, Irvine, Calif.-based Ingram Micro has added over 400 people to its U.S. bench to help continue to provide the best possible customer experience to channel partners, which in turn helps them do the same for their customers, Robinson said.

Ingram Micro is now a data-led services, focused-technology-invested and people-devoted company, he said.

“What does that mean?” he said. “It means we collect, manage, automate and use our data and applications to help enhance your end customers’ experience. We develop and leverage a services portfolio that augments our ability to present you with the services you need when you need them to help you maintain and grow your margins. We lead through thought leadership on the best technology solutions for our ecosystem to help you deliver sustainable value to your clients and know where to invest. We hire, develop, equip and empower a diverse and highly skilled workforce to position us to exceed your expectations every day.”

Security is a good example of the kinds of investments Ingram Micro has made, Robinson said.

The distributor has developed new vendor partnerships with meaningful investments to expand head count and resources with its newly formed Emerging Business Group to bring new data center, storage and data protection vendors to market to help fulfill end customers’ security needs. The distributor also is continuing to invest in expanding its engineering team to have deeper conversations around security measures, he said.

“Additionally, we’ve invested in a dedicated channel CISO for strategic partner engagement in consultations, as well as expanding our services business, including post-sales support training and implementation services,” he said.

Ingram Micro has also invested heavily in the ability to analyze a couple of decades’ worth of data through its business intelligence practice where a team of about 40 Ph.D.s or master’s-level data scientists run analytics on 20-plus years of data the company has to help create an IT footprint for end customers, Robinson said.

“This shows us all the IT services, software and hardware that’s in use by your end customers,” he said. “We’re able to predict their analytics for a full year forward, giving us an accurate sense of where your customer has come from and where they’re likely be in the future.”

Ingram Micro also recently acquired CloudLogic, a cloud data center consulting company, which Robinson called a game-changer.

CloudLogic advises on the most efficient and effective way to run businesses’ applications, as well as reports on customers’ technology, software licensing and cloud spend to help identify things like excess software licensing and obsolete or underutilized platforms to help customers save money, he said.

Ingram Micro can also use CloudLogic to look at end customers’ operating systems and help them modernize, transform and even spot compliance issues that might arise by using third-party products, Robinson said.

“The goal of all this is to help you take costs out of you and your customers’ business, which obviously fosters long-term profitable customer relationships,” he said.

Channel financing remains a key offering and a major differentiator for the distributor by freeing channel partners’ cash flows, Robinson said.

Ingram Micro financial services lets channel partners put capital to better use by hiring sales staff, building their technical infrastructure or investing in marketing strategie, and helps lift the burden of financing customers’ technology and as-a-service solutions, he said. Ingram Micro’s Direct Express lockbox program, for instance, lets partners go after larger deals without the constraints of a credit line, he said.

“We help you finance the technology that is needed to support managed services solutions so that you can better align the cash flow from their services agreement and not have to worry about paying for all that up front or leveraging their bank financing,” he said. “In this past year, we’ve extended $1 billion in financial support to our partners in the U.S. alone, and customers who leveraged our channel financing programs experienced 11 percent growth.”

Ingram Micro also continues to educate partners on the data center enterprise side on how to sell, particularly with the shift toward the consumption model, said Victor Gallego, senior vice president of field sales for the U.S. at Technology Integration Group, a San Diego-based solution provider.

“They’re really educating us on how to sell that because at the end of the day, customers are really buying around consumption and as a service,” he said.

Despite Platinum Equity’s acquisition of Ingram Micro and the merger of Synnex and Tech Data into TD Synnex, it has been business as usual from distributors in general, Gallego said.

“Coverage-wise, it’s been pretty steady, especially around security,” he said. “Distributors are a very important part of our ecosystem because they’re bringing in vendors that may not be well-known into the market. Security is full of niche offerings. You’ve got people providing ransomware applications, cybersecurity, so you have to help connect them together, especially with the security monitoring piece.”

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