Preserving progress under new leadership, Ingram Micro’s much-publicised turnaround continues to shake-up the channel in Australia.
ARN went behind distribution lines with newly appointed Ingram Micro Chief Country Executive A/NZ, Felix Wong, uncovering the company’s next phase of market growth.
Typically, comebacks are a rare and fleeting thing, seldom seen in the world of technology.
Due to the troubled SAP rollout, 2011 will be forever dismissed as an ‘annus horribilis’ in the eyes of the Australian division.
Yet five years on, the distribution giant is gearing up for phase two of its bid to rebuild its fallen empire in the local market.
“After the World War, all the territories were divided and Australia is no different in that sense,” Wong said. “The landscape has changed because we let people come in and the market shifted due to changing customer demands.
“By coming back we are now putting more pressure on our competition, which I hope we can continue to do.”
Directly citing the work of outgoing Managing Director Matt Sanderson - who returned home to head up the distributor’s UK and Ireland team - Wong said the turnaround of the Australian business lies with the former charismatic leader and his executive team.
“This is a relay pass, not a hospital pass,” Wong smiled. “Change is ruthless and if you don’t keep up you get left behind and it’s painful.”
Under Sanderson’s leadership, the distributor arrested a dramatic financial slide following the troubled SAP rollout, with revenues plummeting from $2.1 billion in 2010 to $1.2 billion in 2012.
In replacing Jay Miley in the Australian hot-seat, Sanderson steadied the sinking ship during his three-year tenure, cracking $2 billion revenue in 2015, prompting global praise from CEO Alain Monié.
“Everyone talks about SAP,” Wong admitted. “It’s something that our vendors and partners remember but through Matt the business has grown back and our confidence in the market has returned.
“We remember it, of course we remember it, but it’s something that we have learned from and from my perspective, the next phase is focused around delighting our customers so they can delight their customers.
“We have a desire to grow our share back and become significantly the largest distributor in the market.”
With the media and increased distribution competition acting as a constant reminder, Ingram Micro executives have become experts at fielding SAP-related lines of questioning, such is the channel’s inability to forget.
“We’re focused on providing better service, better delivery, better range and better interaction with our customers,” Wong answered.
“Yes our customers wanted this 10 years ago, but people got away with just moving boxes and when we couldn’t move a box, people came in who could and took our business.
“But we can all move boxes so now the question shifts to how can we grow our market share in new ways?”
In a newly created role, Wong remains well-placed to lead Ingram Micro into a new chapter of growth, building on the company’s core competencies around distribution, Cloud, commerce and fulfilment and lifecycle services.
“Previously, every core competency and business unit reported vertically into region, and then into global,” Wong explained.
“As a result every country had four or five business units and functions all working together, but reporting to different departments at regional and global levels.
“While this was strategically necessary at the time, the process didn’t collectively unite all of our capabilities. Now each division has grown and prospered, the time is now right to unit all areas of our business.
“We’re not just a distribution company anymore and through this new Chief Country Executive role, all business units and functions now report into each country leaders.
"It’s my responsibility to bring these business units together and leverage the capabilities in each across all customer sets.”
Fresh from bolstering management ranks with the appointments of Chris Price and Rob Wilkinson as Senior General Manager Vendor Management and General Manager Retail Sales respectively, Wong returns to the market having held a number of senior executive roles at Ingram Micro, and formerly BrightPoint.
“My brief is to run the country how we need to run the country, making decisions locally to be successful,” Wong explained.