Beyond The PC: Intel's Drive Into High-Growth Emerging Tech Markets Will Be Powered By Partners

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After a year of significant restructuring aimed at positioning Intel for the future, CEO Brian Krzanich has high expectations for the chip giant's channel - explosive growth.

"Our CEO has three goals for us," said Greg Baur, Intel's vice president of sales and marketing for the Americas regional sales group. "Growth, growth and more growth." The sales charge comes more than a year after Krzanich kicked off a massive restructuring initiative in April 2016 aimed at transforming the $60 billion behemoth from a "PC-centric company to a smart, connected company that powers the cloud."

As the company kicks off its Intel Solutions Summit partner event this week, it is sharply focused on high-growth markets - namely the Internet of Things, data center and cloud as well as newer emerging technologies and markets with great potential including artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

[Related: Intel Solutions Summit 2017]

Baur, an Intel channel veteran who is charged with heading up all of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's partner activities and sales, sees solution providers as key to winning in those markets.

"Much like Intel's company strategy, which is evolving, we're really trying to expand and grow our channel business," said Baur. "Our technology is expanding into many different areas beyond the PC, and the channel is a big part of that. As Intel technology is blossoming into new areas, whether it's client, data center, storage or IoT, channel partners will have more opportunities to evolve and develop more solutions for their customers."

The big bet on these high-growth areas is paying off. For 2016, Intel's Internet of Things Group revenue was $2.6 billion, up 15 percent compared with the previous year, and Data Center Group revenue was $17.2 billion, up 8 percent compared with the previous year.

"What I love about the channel is that whenever we have a new technology surfacing from any of the business groups, channel partners are the ones who get it first - they drive it into the market," he said. "The channel feeds on transition, they're more nimble and can really drive business." Baur says the channel's vertical market knowledge and software and services expertise are helping power digital transformation for customers.

And partners are moving hard and fast to power the new software and services opportunities generated by these high-growth markets. The move by partners years ago to a managed services model (Intel estimates that 70 percent of its channel partners already offer managed services) has made the transition easier.

Partners, for their part, said they are seeing the payoff from Intel's restructuring efforts. Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at Fremont, Calif.-based ASI, an Intel system builder, applauded the company's investments in the data center as it has driven sales for ASI around Xeon processors, server boards and bare-bones systems.

ASI saw Intel server sales grow 15 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to Tibbils, who said he expects those sales to continue to grow 10 percent to 15 percent in the coming year, particularly with further innovations such as Intel's next generation of Xeon processors and its Optane memory modules.

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