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Intel Partner Connect Goes Digital In Face Of Coronavirus Outbreak

'The safety and well-being of our workforce and partners is our top priority, and Intel is looking at all events and engagements in the near term,' the semiconductor giant says of its decision to switch its annual partner conference for the Americas to a digital format.

Intel has canceled the physical portion of its annual Intel Partner Connect conference for the Americas and will hold a digital event instead in face of the growing concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company confirmed the change in plans to CRN on Monday and said it will provide more details later this week after the chipmaker began informing partners earlier in the day. The company said it is also evaluating other events in the coming months.

[Related: Jason Kimrey: Intel’s Data-Centric Platform Strategy Is A Winning Hand For Partners]

"The safety and well-being of our workforce and partners is our top priority, and Intel is looking at all events and engagements in the near term," an Intel spokesperson said in an email. "Related to Intel Partner Connect, we will be updating our partners later this week with updated plans and details."

The annual partner conference, which has been going under the name Intel Partner Connect since 2018, was set to happen May 19-21 in Grapevine, Texas, where the company was set to deliver keynotes on Intel's strategy and product roadmap to partners as well as provide matchmaking opportunities. A wide constituency of Intel partners were expected, from distributors to value-added resellers.

The news of Intel's decision to switch gears on Intel Partner Connect comes just after its rival, AMD, confirmed to CRN that it was postponing its Americas Partner Summit due to the coronavirus, joining several other companies that have opted to postpone, cancel or pivot to digital formats.

In the U.S., the number of people with confirmed cases of novel coronavirus COVID-19 has reached 607 while 22 people have died from the virus and eight have recovered, according to a real-time tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, the total number of cases has reached 113,584, the number of deaths 3,996 and recoveries 62,496.

Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, a Fremont, Calif.-based Intel distributor, said while a virtual event will suffice in the short term, there's a lot of value and benefit you get from going to those events: the networking and the connectivity and the training."

"It allows us to get face-to-face with a lot of our partners in one place that we can't really achieve in any other ways, so for that, there's a lot of value," he told CRN. "But missing one and adding some different elements for at least doing the training part, I think that we will be able to manage through that. As long as they bring them back and we can have that opportunity to re-engage, because that's really where a lot of the value comes in."

The semiconductor giant has previously used Intel Partner Event, formerly known as Intel Solutions Summit, to provide updates on the company's partner program. At last year's conference, the company announced that it was rebranding its channel partner program to Intel Partner Alliance and introduce new tools for training and collaboration.

Intel has since launched its new training and collaboration tools, Intel Partner University and Intel Solutions Marketplace, respectively, with plans to fully launch Intel Partner Alliance as the successor to the Intel Technology Provider Program in the second half of 2020.

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