Partners Look To TD Synnex’s Incoming CEO For AI Leadership

‘Moving forward, I hope Patrick will continue to prioritize AI and other emerging technologies, ensuring that TD Synnex remains a leader in technological innovation. Continued support and investment in these areas will be crucial as we navigate the future of the IT landscape,’ says Inacomp Chairman and CEO Michael Kanan, who is also president of the TD Synnex CommunitySolv community.

Partners said they expect incoming TD Synnex CEO Patrick Zammit, a 30-year technology-savvy channel veteran who takes the helm effective September 1, to power them forward into the AI solutions era.

Ned Engelke, chief technology officer at Evotek, a San Diego-based solution provider and TD Synnex channel partner, said he expects Zammit’s leadership to help partners offset the heavy data science investments necessary to compete in the AI era.

In fact, Engelke said he would like to see TD Synnex’s AI initiatives include access to the kind of data scientists who could help companies like his do a proof of concept for customers.

[Related: TD Synnex CEO Talks 2024 Growth Plans, AI Bets]

“They could help with things like, is this project viable?” he said. “Can your data be used just even just a little bit? Can we do something with it for you? We want to help customers make their internal justification to do all the other things they need to unlock the value of their data. This seems like it'd be a perfect thing for TD Synnex to offer.”

AI has really become a data problem because customers have accumulated so much data but struggle with multiple formats, locations, and levels of suitability, Engelke said.

For that reason, many solution providers’ first experience with AI is helping customers deal with their data and make sure it’s useful for AI.

“Customers have to solve their data problems before they can even start to think about what data science looks like against whatever AI work for them,” he said. “We think a lot of our discussions with our customers starts with this data, the challenge of data. How do you use it? How do you store it? And then what do you do with it? And then we can design and secure the infrastructure required to go do this. This is all stuff that you have to solve before you can start working with a data scientist on what you would call artificial intelligence.”

It is that last step where Zammit, a nearly three-year TD Synnex veteran who late last year was appointed chief operating officer, could help channel partners better engage with customers to deliver AI solutions, Engelke said.

“It's very difficult for me to justify maintaining a data scientist on staff, because they're very expensive and very difficult to get,” he said. “And it’s a very competitive space. As a result, I can't easily do that work for a customer, if we get them there. I have plenty of people with data backgrounds and people who understand the architecture around the data for AI. We know how to architect that. But the challenge is, again, we don't have ready access to data scientists.”

Zammit, for his part, told CRN that TD Synnex has already launched an initiative called Destination AI that is aimed at helping partners capture the AI solutions opportunity.

“Destination AI is inheriting all that know-how we've built over the years,” he told CRN. “Basically, it's an enablement tool to help our partners to build their AI and data practice. AI is an algorithm that works only if you have a data lake. Our partners who want to become active and successful in that space not only need to master AI, but they also need to master how to build a data lake. And we have both competencies.”

Softcat, the U.K.’s largest solution provider and a long-term TD Synnex channel partner, has already been working closely with TD Synnex to refresh its technology offering with reference to the AI revolution, including working with the distributor for its key AI technology providers including Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said Graham Charlton, CEO and executive director of Softcat.

Softcat will be looking to support from TD Synnex as it gradually expands its AI initiatives, Charlton said.

Charlton said he has known Zammit for about three years and said the distribution veteran brings a lot of experience over a very long career in the channel across different geographies.

“Softcat has seen good growth with TD Synnex,” Charlton said. “We've tweaked our approach to how we manage our relationships with distributors, and we've seen TD Synnex respond really well to those and very positively take advantage of the changes. And they've been competing well.”

Looking forward, Charlton said he expects to see a refreshed perspective on the channel as TD Synnex’s new CEO takes over.

“But I think they've been doing a great job on a great journey, and working with us very well,” he said. “So we're probably looking for more continuity than any key changes, because they've been getting a lot right.”

Charlton said outgoing TD Synnex CEO Rich Hume, who led the company for the last six years, will leave a lasting positive impact on TD Synnex.

“Softcat has built a business on a strong culture,” he said. “I know a lot of companies say this, but if you ask around the industry, Softcat is known for this in the U.K. Our culture and the way our people are engaged with the businesses have been the reason we've been successful over the last 31 years. And I think it's very clear that Rich Hume has transformed the TD Synnex culture very positively. So I think we will continue to see TD Synnex doing well because of the way that people operate and work together. And I think that's probably his greatest legacy.”

Michael Kanan, chairman and CEO of Inacomp, a Southfield, Mich.-based solution provider, told CRN via email that Zammit’s appointment has sparked a wave of optimism and excitement within the IT community.

“Patrick brings a wealth of experience and a visionary approach to leadership, which many of us believe will propel TD Synnex to new heights,” said Kanan, who is also president of the TD Synnex CommunitySolv community. “His appointment is seen as a strategic move that will strengthen the company's position in the global market and enhance its ability to innovate and deliver exceptional value to its partners.”

Kanan said TD Synnex has already been an AI solutions ally, and he expects Zammit to continue to “prioritize AI and other emerging technologies, ensuring that TD Synnex remains a leader in technological innovation.”

Kanan said continued support and investment in AI is crucial as partners navigate the future IT landscape. He said that Zammit told him he plans to transform the distributor into a cutting-edge, modern solution aggregator.

“This transformation will be driven by seamless collaboration, innovative custom-connected ‘digital app development,’ and strengthening partner relationships,” he said.

Kanan said he expects Zammit to drive digital transformation and operational efficiency at the distribution powerhouse.

“I expect Patrick's entrepreneurial characteristics and customer-focused persona to foster a culture of innovation, encouraging bold and creative solutions to meet the market's evolving needs,” he said. “Additionally, I foresee enhancements in customer engagement and support, emphasizing building robust partnerships within the TD Synnex ecosystem.”