GTDC CEO Vitagliano: Distributors Are Evolving To Be ‘Ecosystem Orchestrators’
Joseph F. Kovar
‘The ability to do the compatibility testing, the ability to have the interaction with the vendor community, the ability to help you all navigate all of the providers that are out there, particularly in the security space, somebody’s got to be able to help with that. And distributors can and will have the capability to do that,’ says Frank Vitagliano, CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council, at XChange March 2023.
COVID-19: Distribution Proved Its Unique Value
GTDC in October 2019 published a study called “IT Distribution 2025” as a way to look forward to what distribution would look like in the future. That study, which included talking to venture capitalists, vendors, solution providers and even some end users, came out shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Vitagliano said.
The survey showed how distribution had evolved from the simple shipping of products to providing complete offerings that solution providers and MSPs could take to customers, he said.
“There’s billions of dollars of investment that’s been put in place over the years,” he said. “And [distributors] built on that, and it enables them to operate and provide operational excellence to all of you at scale. And that has continued and those investments have continued.”
The impact of those investments were never as obvious as when the global pandemic struck in early 2020, Vitagliano said.
“The thing that I want you to really understand here is within three months, four months of this study being released, we were now in the pandemic, which was one of the most significant events in my lifetime, and certainly many of us,” he said. “And one of the things, if you think back, that was really interesting is the IT supply chain kept flowing.”
Part of that was the fact that distributors typically carried 45 days to 60 days of inventory and were able to use that to keep products flowing to the channel, Vitagliano said. But at the same time, distributors quickly moved their employees to work-from-home mode and figured out how their warehouses could get products out the door.
“The supply chain kept flowing,” he said. “And it kept flowing amazingly well. We heard stories about food supply chains, paper goods supply chains, all kinds of issues in other supply chains. And the IT piece flowed pretty well. And obviously, we hit a little wall a year and a half or two years later with some of the supply chain issues that we encountered. But the role that distribution put in place … worked extraordinarily well.”