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Finding The Best Fit: The Emerging Business Partners And New-To-The-Channel Vendors

Joseph F. Kovar

Ingram Micro’s Emerging Business Group connects partners with vendors that are new to the channel or to distribution, setting everyone up for success.

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When vendors take their first steps into distribution, one place they turn to is the Emerging Business Group, part of the Advanced Solutions Division at Ingram Micro.

The Emerging Business Group is itself an emerging part of Ingram Micro, having been formed about two years ago on the foundation of two separate businesses that were heavily focused on new and emerging vendors and technologies, including Promark, a value-added distributor it acquired in 2012.

Donald Scott, director of the Emerging Business Group, said his focus is mainly on vendors of cybersecurity, data center, automation and digital transformation technologies. The group has a team of about 60 who work with other Ingram Micro employees who provide technical and marketing support.

Despite the group’s name it is not focused on emerging vendors. Instead, Scott said, it is focused on established vendors that are new to distribution or to the channel, or those that are looking for additional support to reach partners.

[RELATED: ‘Get To Yes:’ Ingram Micro’s Creative Financing For A Cloud And Managed Services World]

“We provide them with dedicated management, a main person that owns the relationship with the vendors, along with field business development resources, inside folks that do the same types of roles, field marketing and inside transactional support as well,” he said. “So we’re built essentially to provide the best possible experience for new vendors coming into distribution or Ingram Micro specifically and provide them with best practices to help them engage efficiently with our sales teams and navigate to the best partner fits.”

For channel partners, the Emerging Business Group brings a number of benefits, said James Range, president, CEO and owner of White Rock Security, a Dallas-based security-focused solution provider.

Range said he knows that these vendors, including a few security companies he partners with such as Adlumin, Bitdefender and Arctic Wolf Networks, have likely already been successful in the market but are either new to the channel or new to distribution.

“With Ingram Micro [Emerging Business Group], these companies are brought to the forefront,” he said. “[The group] has only about 20 to 30 products, rather than thousands from Ingram Micro as a whole.”

Ingram Micro has the resources to bring these companies to channel partners and does the vetting they need before signing on with them, Range said. “Ingram Micro offers additional training on them, along with sales engineers who provide additional support at the drop of a hat to make working with them more seamless,” he said.

Andy Whiteside, founder and CEO of XenTegra, a Huntersville, N.C.-based digital workspace and virtual desktop infrastructure solution provider, said his company likes working with the Emerging Business Group because it facilitates connections with vendors that might otherwise get lost in a distributor’s large line card.

“These are technologies we want to market, sell, enable and do services with,” Whiteside said. “Ingram Micro’s [Emerging Business Group] helps us scale with these companies without our having to figure out where to start transacting. It’s a part of the Ingram Micro portfolio that allows us to get started quickly.”

The Emerging Business Group helps vendors provide the necessary enablement to partners and connects them with solution providers they otherwise would not have found, Whiteside said.

Working with the Emerging Business Group is a two-way street, he said. “Ingram Micro is bringing vendors [that are new to them] to us,” he said. “It’s highly likely they’re ready to transact. Or, if we ask for something not on their line card, they often bring [it] to us quickly.”

The Emerging Business Group serves a very important purpose for vendors looking to build their channel base, Scott said.

Generally speaking, smaller and newer vendors don’t have the funds to invest in an expensive support model through distribution, compared with large tier-one vendors that generally invest quite a bit through their distribution partners for things like business development or market development, sales overlays, transactional support and so on, a lot of which is vendor-funded, he said.

“Smaller vendors, especially those that are still venture-funded or pre-IPO, are a little bit more cognizant of their burn rates and less inclined to invest in those types of resources, especially when they’re not sure about how to work through distribution,” he said. “So the fact that Ingram Micro invests in these resources and pays for those resources once we’re successful in selling the vendor solutions is valuable to them. It helps them free up capital to focus on other things like product development.”

The Emerging Business Group generally brings from three to six new vendors to its channel partners every quarter, Scott said. Cloud data management company Rubrik, for instance, has technically been part of the Emerging Business Group for about four years and is the largest vendor still working with the organization, he said.

Yubico, which develops hardware authentication security keys, is working with the group to make Ingram Micro its first go-to-market move through a large distributor, he said.

Those vendors are typically supported by the program for about four years, although they may stay longer, Scott said.

“Provided that we both feel good about the direction that our partnership is going, we’ll maintain support for that vendor somewhere in the neighborhood of four years,” he said. [Rubrik has] evolved quite a bit, and they’re going through a lot of changes. ... We’ve already had conversations about what’s the next step in terms of positioning them within one of our other vendor business units, whether it’s our data center practice, security group, or another.”

Solution providers that reach out to the Emerging Business Group will find that Ingram Micro has made it easy to start relationships with vendors new to the channel and likely don’t have a lot of money to spend on building the channel, Scott said.

“Generally speaking, a lot of them might have a channel organization of five or six people,” he said. “So what we’re doing to help the vendor is also helping the partner in terms of acting almost like a sales force multiplier.”

Ingram Micro provides field support and sales support, including getting its own people certified with the vendor, to be able to sit down with partners and talk intelligently about the vendor’s technology and how to engage the technical resources from the distributor or the vendor as well as learn what it takes to be authorized or certified, Scott said.

“[Solution providers] have a single team in Ingram Micro that can bring you into different small vendors to help you understand what it takes to be successful and help make an educated decision on whether it’s the right fit for your business,” he said. “Our team doesn’t just bring a vendor in and then run out and talk to all our partners at once about the vendor. We sit down and talk about where the technology plays from an end user’s viewpoint.”

This includes looking at specific vertical focuses, how the technology fits with certain market segments, such as SMB, and which partners are focused on that market segment or vertical, Scott said.

“So we’re going to help the vendor understand where they fit from a partner standpoint,” he said. “And then we’re going to go to those partners that we see through our data as being the best fit for the vendor. So we’re hopefully shortening the recruitment cycle for both sides. The vendors are going to spend less time talking to folks that aren’t a fit, and the partners can be assured that we’ve looked at their businesses and determined that this technology fits their strategy.”

Scott said he encourages partners to check in with the Emerging Business Group often because it is continually engaging with partners to learn what gaps they see in their offerings, what kinds of technologies they are interested in and what vendors they may have heard of that Ingram Micro has yet to carry.

“That type of feedback is extremely vital to us,” he said. “A partner telling me, ‘This vendor is really doing great things in the channel’ is candidly the best kind of feedback I can get. I’d rather hear that from a channel partner than I would from somebody at Gartner or IDC or Forrester.”

Who’s In The Emerging Business Group?

These are some of the vendors developing their channel business via Ingram Micro’s Emerging Business Group:

  •  Adlumin, a Washington, D.C.-based managed detection and response technology developer founded in 2016
  •  AppViewX, a Seattle-based developer of automation and orchestration technology for network infrastructure and public key infrastructure, founded in 2017 when it was spun out of Payoda
  •  Arctic Wolf Networks, an Eden Prairie, Minn.- based managed detection and response technology developer founded in 2012
  •  Bitdefender, a Bucharest, Romania-based cybersecurity company founded in 2001
  •  NetAlly, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based developer of networking testing and Wi-Fianalysis technology founded in 1993 and spun out of Netscout as an independent company in 2019
  •  Rubrik, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based cloud data management and data security technology developer founded in 2014
  •  Skyhigh Security, a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of cybersecurity technology, formerly known as McAfee Enterprise
  •  Yubico, a Stockholm, Sweden-based developer of hardware authentication security keys founded in 2007
Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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