Riding through the storm

Riding through the storm

Channel Choice Distributor, Hardware Distributor, Best Distributor Initiative - Ingram Micro

Ingram Micro was caught in a whirlwind of economic forces this year, and its newly installed Australian vice-president and general manager, Jay Miley, found himself quickly anchored in the middle of it.

In a year in which Ingram celebrated its 10-year anniversary in Australia, Miley came on-board to replace former chief, Guy Freeland, and was faced with difficult decisions almost immediately.

First came an organisational restructure. General manager of solutions group, Stuart Ellis, was one of a number of people made redundant, and the distributor shut its Adelaide and ACT offices. It also closed its niche communications division and then announced the last of its yearly Expotech convention tours, Instead, the distributor will replace it with a virtual event and regional support shows going forward.

At the same time, Miley guided Ingram Micro towards new opportunities. It acquired point-of-sale specialist, Vantex, in May, and unveiled a $6 million datacentre in September.

Through the chaotic blur of economic activity, Ingram came out strong and picked up a number of accolades at this year’s ARN awards: Channel Choice Distributor, Hardware Distributor of the Year, and Best Distributor Initiative for its LicenceTracker solution.

These three awards essentially boil down to the distributor’s belief in close engagement with its 100+ vendor partners, and the commitment of its staff to the business in general, Miley told ARN. Also critical to Ingram’s success is its 5000 active reseller partners, and creating a quality engagement experience for those partners with Ingram staff.

“Predominantly, it [Ingram’s awards achievements] has a lot to do with the employees that we hire and keep on staff here – I think their commitment to customer service and the marketplace would be what I would put as why we picked up the awards if I had to pick one thing,” Miley said.

Miley has worked for Ingram Micro in three extremely varied geographies, holding positions in the US and New Zealand before landing in Australia. The big difference between the three, he said, was the very different sense of scale – 390 million people in the US, compared to 4.5 million in New Zealand and 21 million in Australia. Despite this, the basic rules of engagement are the same.

“It’s clear to me what it takes to be successful,” Miley said. “You need to have strong vendor partnerships built on trust and integrity, and then you need to have good linkages with the vendor community so you work well together.

“Then you need to have as much, if not more, of a relentless attitude towards innovation and customer service when it comes to serving the needs of the reseller market – because their needs are varied and change pretty rapidly based on technology innovations that are current in the market.”

Ingram Micro’s Asia-Pacific operations outperformed the distributor’s other geographical interests in the second quarter of 2009 ending July 4. Although results still showed a drop in revenue to the tune of 21 per cent, Miley expressed confidence in the market’s resilience and its ability to rebound over the next year.

“The next 12 months seem to be positioned to be significantly more robust – I’m quite optimistic about what I’m starting to hear in the marketplace from our resellers, vendor partners, and some of the analysts as well,” he said.

According to Miley, the main opportunities in the market are around networking of security, along with taking advantage of the opportunities presented in licensing and the complications implicit with the technology.

“I think the mid-range and enterprise server and storage field is an opportunity we’re well-positioned to capitalise on as businesses begin to reinvest in productivity tools and in applications that help drive sales and more customer intimacy,” he said.

Miley said LicenceTracker, its now-award winning tool, fits closely in with this strategy.

“The whole licensing process and the business processes behind the scenes to enable licensing transactions is quite complicated and it’s quite labour intensive historically. I think anything that helps resellers save time and money and take costs out of their business will hold general appeal, and I believe the licensing tracker solution hit a home run in all those solutions,” he said.

SMB will continue to be a breadbasket for the distributor going forward, Miley added.

“That [SMB] opportunity was never affected as much as the higher-end of town, and we’re going to continue to put resources in the market and created business development opportunities for us and the channel,” he said.

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