At the Intel Solution Summit this week, Intel’s transformation from being a chip maker for PCs and servers to a do-all, be-all tech giant in the consumer and embedded technologies space seemed more tangible than ever.
And as the Silicon Valley staple continues to extend its reach into new markets, it’s striving to ensure its channel partners can extend a reach of their own.
C.J. Bruno, vice president and general manager of Americas Sales and Marketing at Intel, told solution providers during the event’s opening keynote that the company is investing $12 billion this year alone in R&D efforts. He flipped through slides and played videos that highlighted new uses for Intel technology, ranging from automated farming to infotainment systems in cars.
He said Intel has even placed anthropologists in the homes of PC users around the world to identify human computing patterns and help define future form factors. The Ultrabook, in other words, is just the beginning, Bruno stressed.
"We are enormously grateful to you for your work in 2012," Bruno told solution providers. "And as we look forward, we see no limits. We see tremendous opportunity for us together to harvest."
Steve Dallman, vice president of sales and Marketing Group and General Manager of Intel’s Worldwide Reseller Organization, also spoke recently about growing opportunities for partners in the digital signage and enthusiast markets, sending a message of transformation similar to that of Bruno’s.
In an interview with CRN, Dallman expanded on the topic of transformation, explaining that Intel is "blessed" to be a company with the R&D bandwidth to "look out in the future" and spot new market opportunities on the horizon. Its global reach also helps generate new product ideas, he said, recalling the day Intel Japanese employees told him SSDs would be a big hit in enthusiast markets – a concept that may not have surfaced so quickly in the U.S.
But while moving into new markets ensures solid growth and an ever-expanding product portfolio, it can also mean partners are caught in a constant game of catch-up, Dallman noted. Even with robust training programs in place, some resellers simply fail to evolve and their business suffer because of it. Or, worse yet, their businesses end because of it.
"I always kind of regret and worry about… do they [Intel resellers] grab the next things and move forward?," Dallman said.
NEXT: Intel's Advice On 'Grabbing The Next Thing'A reseller’s ability to "grab the next thing" depends on two things, he continued: the supplier they work with, and their own R&D investments.
"What I tell these guys is that they need to invest their personal time the same way that they invest money. They need to spend time with their peer groups and some of their key suppliers," Dallman said. "And 'key' doesn’t necessarily mean the biggest dollar one. They should look at ones that are more futuristic, where they will hear about new products and new paths to market. And kind of pick them pretty carefully. I think some suppliers do that well and some do it less well."
He said that Intel takes pride in showcasing and communicating the value of its latest and greatest solutions "because it’s addicted to technology." He pointed to the large, hands-on showfloor at the Intel Solution Summit as an example. Customers and partners alike could test out new digital signage, server boards, and even Intel-fueled gaming systems first-hand.
"It’s not just good products sitting there," Dallman said, "but good ideas sitting there."
In addition to ensuring partner exposure to Intel’s newest and soon-to-launch products, the chip maker strives to keep its resellers up-to-date through training. In fact, partners must meet a specific quota of training credits to even stay in the program. Every quarter, Intel maps out what it thinks the hottest new market segments or products are going to be and hosts new training courses for each, across all its geographic locations, and in a multitude of languages.
Dallman said the company measures the effectiveness of its partner program not by how many new courses or training materials are published each quarter, but by how many are actually attended or read.
Supplier efforts aside, resellers themselves need to dedicate a portion of their time to studying new market trends, and learning about them at channel-related events such as this week’s Summit, Dallman explained.
"I think the ones that I’ve always found seem to grasp the next new idea and run with it are those that we run into at events this this," he said. "They are searching out new things."
But even with all the buzz Ultrabooks and Intel-based mobile devices have created in the consumer world over the past year, Dallman said that the enterprise market remains and will continue to be a big focus for the chip maker – it just tends to move more slowly than its consumer-based counterpart. But that doesn’t mean it’s not significant.
It was a message that tied back nicely to Bruno’s keynote address Monday.
"The PC business has been challenged for years. And it’s easy for the Intel guy to stand on stage and declare that the PC is not dead. But look at yellow line," Bruno told the crowd. "Together we deliver more than a million computers every single day as the market creeps to close to 400 million units this year… we have seen an explosion in demand for other devices, as well. But the PC business is alive and well."