Exclusive Q&A: Ingram Micro President Paul Bay Sees Big Opportunities In Cloud, Mobility


CRN: We've been hearing a lot of buzz around Office 365 vs. Google Apps. Do you see that dynamic changing and is it a good thing for the market?

Bay: I think it is good for the market, but the one thing I do believe is that it's an opportunity for the solution providers from a services standpoint. What Google is doing, we sell a lot of Chromebooks to the channel. They've come out with the Chromebox, which they've recently announced, which gets them into video and teleconferencing.

The opportunity really is to be able to service that. How do you bundle the products together and also be able to provide that service on a monthly basis. That's where the real opportunity is. It's not necessarily the products or the apps that they're going to be able to sell, but it’s the solution that they're going to wrap around those apps in the process.

We are seeing success with Office 365 also.

CRN: As a business, how do these apps fit in for Ingram Micro with margins not being very high?

Bay: I mean that goes back to: how do you bundle that? If you're just going to go out and sell those products as standalone, you're probably not going to have a business where you're going to make significant investments. We have to help our partners go out and differentiate [themselves] and make sure we're selling that complete solution. If they're not, then they're going to be challenged...the opportunities from a market perspective [are] not as great as it is if you put [everything] together with all the other [services] pieces.

It ties into both our cloud business and our services business because there's got to be a bundled solution and the services to be able to manage that. That's what we're doing -- how do we look at this? How can we tie in, not just solutions from a traditional distribution standpoint, but how do we [also] tie into that services aspect? That's where we know we have to go to provide our value. It's absolutely tied into the services conversation. The platform we have from a billing perspective, provisioning, that's where I get back into the complexity of all of the pieces. From an end user level, if it's just one product, you're not going to have as much opportunity. 

CRN: What about PC sales? How is that side of the business playing out at Ingram Micro?

Bay: We've had a good run at the PC business. It's been a good category for us because there's still a lot of people that need desktops and notebooks that are out there. That still continues to be a very strong category. If you look at some of our large partners that are publically traded, they will still talk about how their having pretty good business from that aspect also. 

CRN: Do you see that continuing to be a good business going forward?

Bay: I haven't seen anything that tells me to the contrary at this point. I mean if we're talking about this year, I think that what we're seeing and what we're hearing it still looks like it's going to be fairly similar to what we've seen here in the past few months. If that's [the only thing] you're selling, you're going to have a tough time of it, but it's still part of the overall solution that can be made up. 

NEXT: Mobility and What's Up Next For Ingram Micro?