Ingram Snags Former Avnet EVP, Plans Health Care Vertical Push

Ingram Micro has signed longtime Avnet executive Tony Vottima to lead its vertical market, business intelligence and asset disposition expansion efforts.

Vottima started in late January as the executive director and general manager of the vertical market business for the Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor. He will be responsible for rolling out an advisory council and in-depth education program for the health-care vertical.

"Ingram is investing in all the right places to help their customers grow faster," Vottima told CRN during an interview at 2015 XChange Solution Provider in Dallas. "They're going to be in the right place at the right time."

[RELATED: Ingram Micro Vertical Markets Exec Mike Humke Leaves To Start Consulting Venture]

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Vottima spent 26 years at Avnet, working his way up the ranks to become the senior vice president of solutions marketing and development, HP solutions and Avnet's services division, respectively, since 2006. He left the Tempe, Ariz.-based distributor in July.

Vottima replaces Mike Humke, who left Ingram Micro after four years in October to start his own consulting practice.

Vottima will have additional responsibilities as Ingram Micro has launched new vertical practices in retail and finance just as Humke was departing. What piqued Vottima's nterest in joining the $46.5 billion distributor was its newfound focus around customer growth even though Ingram Micro has long been a well-known supply-chain company, he said.

Specifically, Vottima was impressed by the investments Ingram Micro has made in subject matter expertise, business intelligence and attracting new vendors, all of which he said should make it easier for customers to design high-quality solutions.

Ingram Micro will be making significant investments in health care under Vottima's watch, the first of which will be putting together a council of health-care-oriented solution providers to serve as subject matter experts.

"Diving into vertical markets requires making investments in the reseller," Vottima said.

The distributor also plans to build out an intensive training program to help solution providers understand businesses that include hospitals to clinics to ambulatory settings.

Vottima said he hopes the training will make it easier for channel partners to design solutions that best fit the particular health-care environment.

"The more they understand about the market, the more solutions they can provide," Vottima said.

End users living inside a certain industry feel like they're experiencing unique business problems, and are, therefore, looking for an IT consultant that understands their particular vertical as opposed to a general technologist, he said.

Additional compliance requirements and more rapid technological changes have strengthened the desire of many businesses to look for IT support from someone who has vertical expertise.

"Many industries can no longer wait," Vottima said.

Next: Vertical Demand Limited Among SMBs, Ingram Partner Says

Port Chester, N.Y.-based Ingram Micro partner Consolidated Technologies, however, has found that most of its SMB customers aren't looking for vertical expertise.

Harry Abt, the company's director of managed services, said he has found the desire for vertical knowledge doesn't normally kick in until solution providers are dealing with businesses at the upper end of the midmarket range.

Consolidated Technologies has more of a traditional relationship with Ingram Micro, Abt said, and primarily leans on the distributor to procure hardware such as servers or Ethernet cables.

But for those partners interested in vertically aligned solutions, Vottima said Ingram Micro also is planning to deepen its involvement with education and retail.

Additional governmental regulations and grants have driven much K-12 spending on devices and networks to create digital classrooms, Vottima said.

On the retail side, Vottima said IT opportunities exist in everything from protecting information from hackers to making the web experience equivalent to that of a brick-and-mortar locale to creating customizable digital signage based on demographic preferences.

"Technological change represents new opportunities for the channel," said Vottima, noting that vendors, too, are making investments to incentivize a vertical approach.

In addition, Ingram Micro is bolstering its business-intelligence tools to help resellers better understand the markets they currently serve as well as where future market opportunities might lie. The practice offers both intelligence on prospective customers and a marketing plan to help engage them, Vottima said.

Some solution providers are attuned to new market openings, Vottima said, while others are much more horizontally focused and not aware of opportunities within a particular vertical.

As far as asset disposition goes, Vottima said customers are becoming much more concerned about getting equipment out of the data center than they were in the past.

"With today's cybersecurity issues, people are afraid to take equipment out," Vottima said.

The technology refresh cycle, however, continues to accelerate, Vottima said, and end users are interested in taking advantage of the latest technology, which is why they're increasingly looking toward the channel for help.