Five Big Ideas That Came Out Of Tech Data’s Tech Select Conference

Tech Data Tech Select Partner Conference

Tech Data’s partner conference in San Antonio this week brought together the distribution powerhouse’s best and brightest to talk with MSPs about services the company offers to build their business, as well as various trends that impact MSPs.

In several interviews with CRN, Tech Data leadership reiterated that they are a solutions provider, for solution providers. Whether the MSP has needs in security, cloud, mobile, or IoT, Tech Data wants to be their first point of contact.

This week, the company announced three new solution programs – part of the company’s overall push to help MSPs make the big technology transitions they will need to be competitive. Tech Data unveiled two Cisco-based products aimed at simplifying the digital demands of customers in the health care vertical as well as those customers that have several branch locations within their business. The company also announced its new Tech-as-a-Service for Advanced Solutions, which allows partners and end users to bundle data center hardware, software and services into a consumption-based pricing model in which end users pay only according to the resources used. The company is now also offering its Cloud Practice Builder program to partners via an online portal.

Here are five big ideas to come out of the conference, according to company executives.

More Solutions For More Partners

Marty Bauerlein, senior vice president of U.S. sales:

“Tech Data has made a tremendous amount of investments over the last year and a half in skills and capabilities. And we’re putting our money where our mouth is. So, this is, from a differentiated value standpoint, industry leading. We have a dedicated headcount to our next-gen technology attack on the market. It’s really to help our solution providers get better. It’s around Iot, security, cloud, mobility and security.

We’re a bank. We a logistics company, but now we’re a solutions company. We’re going to keep pressing that in market. We’re going to keep putting our money where our mouth is. We’re laying the dollars out and we’re making big investments into our customer communities. This isn’t a head fake.”

Partners Must Move Faster To Catch Up With Where Tech Is Going

Marc McClure, senior vice president of U.S. commercial sales:

“Everything we’re doing here is geared around that whole enablement message, because right now, this industry is moving fast, but I don’t think the partner base is moving as fast as it could to adopt the change and move into these newer technologies.

So folks that are clinging to that legacy platform, second-platform business and riding that wave down, its just going to see further compression on margin. So while some are going to be perfectly comfortable with that and we’ll certainly support them any way we can. We need to get more partners who are going to go out and push, towards driving these news technologies.

We’re in a world of mega-mergers right now and consolidation in the channel. I fully expect that some folks will kind of get sunset if they don’t make some changes. Other folks want to put themselves in a position to be acquired. How do I become more valuable to a company to become an acquisition target? In order to do that, you have to start moving where the markets going where the money is going which is around newer technology.”

Components Are Not Going Away, But You Have To Change How You Sell Them

David Spindler, director of eCommerce:

“When you look at that endpoint business, the best way to fulfill it in a very competitive market is to do it digitally. That will allow us to sell the solution-type sales versus just doing pack and ship on this.

‘The number of customers that engage with us digitally is growing hands over fist. We introduced a program last year, where we said ‘You want to get the best price? Go online.’ Bit like the airline industry. What we found was as soon as we introduced that -- while we had a couple customers kicking and screaming because they wanted to speak to a human -- for the component type products, a toner cartridge, a notebook, things that don’t need a lot of knowledge, that are industry known, we saw a 47 percent increase online usage, and a 30 percent growth in sales, year over year.

The endpoint business is the component business and its still growing. I’ve been in the business a number of years and for a number of years I’ve been told that the floor was going to fall out of the PC business. But it isn’t. It’s maybe not growing at the same rate it used to grow, but now you have things like Windows 7 coming into play, its going to drive more refresh. I personally have a notebook. I personally have a cell phone and I personally have a tablet. All end point type products.”

Security Now. Security Always

Alex Ryals, VP Security Solutions:

“As partners build solutions, whether it’s a cloud solution, a mobile solution, data center architecture, whatever that partner is doing, the need to inject security into the equation is greater than its ever been and not half what it will be next year.

As more and more breaches occur at the industry level, customers are starting to think, ‘I need to loosen up budgets and spend a little bit here and there.’ Unfortunately, they don’t loosen up their budget until they’ve been hit, and it’s a little late at that point. Especially in the SMBs we’re finding that a lot of customers don’t survive an attack, financially. They need to be focusing on that sooner than they are, and I think our partners are recognizing that, seeing that opportunity. I talk to several partners a week right now who come to us to say, If I was to build a security business, how could you help us?

IDC shows there’s over 35 areas of security now that they track. So vendors are popping up that focus on subsets of those 35 areas. And when you got to conferences like RSA or Black Hat, you’re seeing just lots of small vendors trying to hyper-focus, and be the best at some category to differentiate. But where we’re pivoting our focus is more around the MSP community ,because our vendors are focused on the MSP community. If they can give the MSSP more subscription services and buying on a regular basis from the vendor small quantity of licenses to supplement their client sales, that’s going to be the future of security. Less so than the reseller deals. The move to the MSSP model is huge, and vendors are trying to capitalize on that.”

IoT Sales Are Use Case Driven And Hyper-verticalized

Andrea Miner, director global market intelligence:

“What we’re seeing for IoT is that its use case driven, so use cases inside of verticals. So partners that will sell internet of things and capitalize on this huge growth opportunity, have to think about things from a vertical perspective. So what do schools need, for example. One easy example is safety in schools. What kinds of solutions can we implement with internet of things technologies to keep schools safer. So there’s technologies like smart lighting, where if a gunshot goes off, the lights indicate that something has happened and then there’s a light pattern than leads you to safely get out of the schools.

So if there’s a partner focused on government solutions or they’re focused on education, they can, through us, we’re offering internet of things solutions, we can take those solutions and the partner can sell them. So you could sell smart lighting to a dentist or a hospital. You could sell a horizontal solution, but in IoT you wouldn’t do that. You’d sell it vertically. You would approach the market from a vertical perspective, and you would sell that use case in that vertical highlighting the outcomes that they’re looking for in that particular vertical, rather than saying, I have this smart lighting solution. That’s the way we used to sell.”