8 Big Bets World Wide Technology CEO Kavanaugh Is Making In 2018

Betting Big in 2018

James Kavanaugh, co-founder and CEO of the solution provider powerhouse World Wide Technology, is placing some big strategic bets around application development and specific vendor technology in 2018.

"I'm as fired up as I've been in 27 years," said Kavanaugh, in an interview with CRN.

Maryland Heights, Mo.-based WWT is a top global Cisco partner, a Dell EMC Titanium Black partner and is ranked No. 10 on the CRN 2017 Solution Provider 500 list. The solution provider giant grew revenue in 2017 by nearly 12 percent year over year to $10.4 billion, while also adding 500 new employees. Kavanaugh talks to CRN about where WWT is placing its bets this year.

Opportunities With VMware vRealize Automation

We see a big opportunity with VMware. VMware continues to get more and more traction in different areas specifically around private cloud and what they're doing with VMware vRealize Automation – that's an area that continues to see a lot of growth in the public, private and hybrid cloud environments. There's been a lot of talk in that space, but I think customers – with the right partners – are now deploying true hybrid cloud environments. VMware in the private space is definitely the lead in that area. We see a lot of opportunity there.

Working With Lines Of Business

We're focusing on transforming how [customers] go to market. How the customer experience is relative to their mobile app. For health-care organizations, for example, not only are we helping them build out their IT infrastructure around security, networking, cloud and converged, but we're working with their lines of businesses in regard to the patient experience and applications we're building that will layer on top of the infrastructure to connect IT with the line of business. That's a big focus area we have in building out practices that sit on top of all of these [technologies].

Creating Advisory Groups

We're focused on building out our Chief Technology Advisory groups. They really help customers connect all of the different areas of technologies and bring those together in a logical, assimilated way that matches to the customer environment. In the same way, we're also building out groups of Chief Digital Advisors. They're advisors that have had experience in the marketing and advertising agency area who also have the experience along the digital and application development side.

So at the highest level, these groups help customers evaluate, test and stay ahead of the barrage of technology that's coming at them on the infrastructure side and match those Chief Technology Advisors with those customers. But at the same time, we're helping them build the strategy and road map of how they're going to further digitize their business and connect more closely and more integratively with the line of business.

Working With Cisco

There's some areas that we're working with Cisco on strategically that match very well to our Chief Technology Advisors and what we’re doing with our Advanced Technology Center that can help build more enterprise IT as a business managed service offerings that will help customers look at consuming a broad base of enterprise networking and Infrastructure-as-a-Service, not just as products. That's an area that we're working with them on that has a lot of opportunity with Cisco's areas of technologies.

Investing In The Advanced Technology Center

We'll continue to invest aggressively in our Advanced Technology Center and the innovation ecosystem that we've created in our technology centers. That's an ongoing, significant focus that has really proved to be very valuable for us as an innovation lab to learn, evaluate, test and build out product architecture and really transformational solutions for customers.

We probably have $300 million in hardware and software in our labs. We bring those different technology partners together into integrated platforms, architecture and transformational solutions that have literally created game-changing business solutions for customers. That's what we're very excited about. We're seeing customers validate that day in and day out, as they physically and virtually participate in different proofs of concept, evaluations, product build in our labs.

Momentum With Cisco ACI

ACI is continuing to get more and more traction with different customers. It's something we're looking at more. We continue to have it embedded in our lab and are working with a lot of our customers on it.

Building Out Application Development

We're spending a lot of time, money and effort in building out our Agile application development for many different specialty areas of technology whether it's cloud, hyper-converged, voice, video, networking, storage, next-gen flash, cyber – from firewalls to enterprise endpoints -- to big data.

So we're taking these developers and integrating them with our traditional hardware engineers and architects, and using it to automate IT infrastructure and build digital solutions for customers.

Combating Spectre, Meltdown

We've put together a number of different blogs and white papers on it that has impressed a number of our customers and partners. A lot of that comes from our deep expertise in this space with our engineers and architects -- some have worked in a number of different intelligence agencies that have experienced challenging situations like this. There are things that we're consulting our customers on relative to this. There's been a number of customers that have come back that have been quite happy and impressed with some of the advice and consultation we provide them.