Jim Kavanaugh: WWT Shifts Sales Strategy Due To Coronavirus ‘Crisis’

‘These are unprecedented times and uncharted waters that we’re all navigating,’ says World Wide Technology CEO Jim Kavanaugh in an interview with CRN.


Solution provider powerhouse World Wide Technology is shifting its engineering and sales teams to focus on providing remote work solutions for some of its most demanding customers like the U.S. federal government and Fortune 50 companies as demand for work-from-home solutions skyrockets due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Those customers need to move today, not tomorrow, on figuring this stuff out,” said Jim Kavanaugh, CEO of the $12 billion St. Louis, Mo.-based channel star. “We’re seeing an uptick in demand in customers trying to figure out things around voice, video and collaboration that we’re deploying – whether it’s leveraging Cisco and WebEx or helping design and implement things leveraging VMware around end user compute and Dell Technologies. These types of technologies are helping to support our customers that we believe are helping the world get through this crisis. Nobody is going to fix this thing overnight. It’s going to take a collective and collaborative effort from all of us.”

Fortunately for WWT, the company is ahead of the curve when it comes to remote solution proof of concepts.

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“We have some specific initiatives that we fortunately have been doing around designing, building and growing our engineering and software development teams that support VMware’s Workspace ONE, the integration of Workspace ONE, the design, engineering and literally simulating many of these environments in our labs for a number of customers,” said Kavanaugh. “I was talking to some of my sales team just today about some customers that we had proof of concepts with in our labs over the last couple of weeks and months, specific to Workspace ONE and the end user compute side. [Customers] are needing to do this to accelerate the work-from-home capabilities of their organizations. These are very, very large organizations that we’re looking at – Fortune 50 type companies, the U.S. federal government.”

[Related: VMware’s Pat Gelsinger: Coronavirus Will ‘Permanently Change’ Work]

Vendors like VMware are also helping customers and partners drive remote solutions for customers in need. This week, VMware unveiled it is offering free trials of Workspace ONE, Carbon Black Endpoint Security and its new SD-WAN Work @Home offering that provides end user hardware and hosted services for up to 45 days for up to 50 employees.

WWT is also doubling down on helping healthcare organizations who are fighting the coronavirus epidemic.

“Right now, we are working on not only the infrastructure side, but we’re working on building out patient-enabled mobile apps that will help hospitals better service their patients and provide a more user-friendly -- any time, any place, anywhere -- capability for some of the services they’re providing,” said Kavanaugh. “So it’s really a busy time.”

The channel superstar is also seeing a sudden spike in demand from its Web 2.0 and service provider customers. “The demand on their cloud infrastructure is growing significantly – the storage, the compute and just the services that are being required is putting additional demand on us to help them on the design side, but also among the rack-and-stack manufacturing side that we do for those customers through our supply chain systems,” Kavanaugh said.

WWT employs over 6,000 people and was named on the Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For in 2020, marking the ninth consecutive year the company has made the prestigious list.

Kavanaugh has been with World Wide Technology for nearly 30 years and says he’s never seen anything impact the IT world as much as coronavirus has.

“I’ve never seen anything that’s had this big of impact on the IT industry and an impact on the world. This is mind-boggling,” said Kavanaugh. “It’s something we as leaders, we have to step back and assess the situation – but you don’t have a whole lot of time to assess. These are unprecedented times and uncharted waters that we’re all navigating. The first priority is the safety and well-being of our employees. Along with that is the safety and well-being of our customers, partners and our community.”