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Sanjib Sahoo On Digital Operations Vs. Digital And The Power Of The Xvantage Platform

CJ Fairfield

Ingram Micro vice president Sanjib Sahoo says the company’s new Xvantage platform will “create a completely new experience” for partners to do business with the distributor.


Sanjib Sahoo, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Ingram Micro, talks about the importance of digital operations and how the new Xvantage platform will “create a completely new experience” for partners to do business with the distributor.

“What has happened is that digital has changed from automation to experience,” Sahoo said in an interview with CRN. “Today, we start with experience. We start with how should the experience be for our customers, our partners, our employees and then we drive automation in the back end. When you work from an experience-driven model, you have to focus on digital operations.”

Sahoo also discussed the difference between digital transformation and digital operations, keeping the focus on value and value creation and what the secret is to success.

What’s the importance of digital operations and why should partners lean into it?

If you look at digital transformation, the term I think has been a little outdated because we have been transforming for a long time. Transformation will always happen as technology matures. As the digital technology matures, we will keep on transforming. I think what is important is more than 84 percent of the digital transformations fail to deliver the value that they started with. What is important is we have to keep a focus on value and value creation. As these digital technologies are evolving, the ability to create a digital operating model to truly create business value for your customers, employees and partners is the most important thing. By ‘value’ I mean really improving customer satisfaction, improving the partner experience and tangible business value. That’s why the digital operation is so important right now.

Before, it was innovation first and then adoption. You first transform technology and then you try for adoption. That model does not work anymore. What works is you constantly create a digital operating model, which creates more of a digital-platform-led business model and, as your technology matures, you actually keep on refining the model and drive value.

What’s the difference between digital operations and digital transformation?

Digital transformation is more of a journey. For example, a company can do a digital transformation by changing a program. Most of the organizations think digital transformation is automation. You automate from paper to digital. But right now, what has happened is that digital has changed from automation to experience. Today, we start with experience. We start with how should the experience be for our customers, our partners, our employees and then we drive automation in the back end. When you work from an experience-driven model you have to focus on digital operations. The focus on improving the experience doesn’t stop—because experience equals value. The focus on taking complexity out of the business model sometimes creates new business models by virtue of digital technology. So while digital transformation is viewed as a project, digital operations is more of a DNA and a spirit that is ongoing.

Why should partners care about digital transformation and digital operations?

The partner should care about this because as they are having discussions with their customers, that discussion should start with selling solutions, not selling technology, because our partners are trying to solve problems for their customers. If we take it a layer above and become a true partner in solutions and really help organizations to digitally transform by giving them solutions, then our discussion starts from what business problems they are trying to solve. Digital transformation is actually solving the business problem and value. If we start thinking of those concepts and thinking digital transformation is more about spirit and solutions and how do we solve the problem, not the technology, then our discussions with the partners will be different.

Why do many companies fail at digital transformation, and what is the secret to success?

The No. 1 thing is the spirit and the mindset. The biggest reason companies fail is because of the company [itself]. Many times companies focus on that 40 percent chance of failure versus that 60 percent chance of success. If you’re used to doing something in a [certain] way for many, many years, then change is hard. The second reason is that [putting] innovation or transformation first, like a technology project, and then adoption second doesn’t work anymore. Why? Because the world has changed, the pace has changed. Companies are transforming, and digital journeys have changed from automation to experience.

What is the business value around Xvantage for Ingram Micro and its partners?

Xvantage is a digital twin of Ingram Micro. What we mean by that is we are actually creating a completely new experience for our employees and for our partners to actually do business with us. It’s a new way of doing business with Ingram Micro. It’s a different experience. It takes complexity out. It actually uses machine learning and AI to push insight, recommendations and personalize the experience either for our vendor partners or our customer partners. It personalizes the experience based on their needs. It’s a self-learning platform, which actually learns as you interact. So as you’re interacting, it really creates a differentiating experience, which means that it aims to make, in the distribution industry, the buying of technology easy. It combines hardware, software, cloud consumption models, Everything-as-a-Service models, everything under the same ecosystem. It creates a single pane of glass for our customers. By using digital technologies it [creates] that frictionless experience for our partners and makes technology buying easy. It actually helps you with algorithms to create that bundled solution in a single pane, taking all the complexity and legacy out from the back end.

How can Xvantage turn into revenue growth for your partners?

They can really get insight, which is fruitful for their business. They can use the recommendations, which understand their DNA. Instead of searching all solutions, we can push the solutions for them, which makes it easy. It can take a lot of mundane work that they do out of their books so that they can focus on [building solutions] and they’re not figuring out basic stuff. It’s like taking the whole manual e ort out. With automating all of that, the partners can focus on really [building solutions] with their customers and having productive conversations with the insight that Xvantage is giving. This actually makes them a solution provider to their customers by helping them grow their business with the power of the platform and data insight that we’re giving them.

How will Xvantage impact the experience your partners and providers have with Ingram Micro?

Xvantage actually creates a completely new experience layer. It’s more of an experience-driven organization that you want to become. And it ties all the experiences together by virtue of our data. We have worked really hard on taking the data and creating architecture that synchronizes all these experiences in such a way that the employee experience, the partner experience, the vendor experience is all synchronized together. For the partner, they can get a truly personalized experience, they can get insight, and the complexity is [gone]. Same thing for employees, they can actually get a single pane of glass for everything from a customer profile. They can actually look at all the data in one single cockpit. They can also go browse our partners’ information and screens together. For example, let’s say a coding customer starts the code and drops o immediately, employees can pick up so it actually improves the way employees can operate. For vendors it’s giving them that data back, that insight back. It’s making it easy for them to integrate with Ingram Micro and understanding what are their product demands, making all the rebates and all of the incentives easily synchronized with other parts of the system. It’s helping them to create those as-a-service models that we are working on. It’s really creating an experience that they can view in the platform and personalize for them. A hardware vendor may not have the same experience as a software vendor. It’s totally customized for them.


CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at

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