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GTDC CEO Frank Vitagliano On The Value Of Modern Distribution And The Opportunity Ahead

Frank Vitagliano -- former channel exec at IBM, Juniper Networks, and Dell EMC and former president of solution provider Computex -- is bringing his experience to the Global Technology Distribution Council to help shape the new future of distribution.

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As you look to the next year and beyond, what are the one or two biggest changes you see coming in terms of how they impact distribution and its relationship with channel partners? 

A couple things. I think one will be continued consolidation in the marketplace [on the distribution side]. I don't think there's any question about that. I think there'll continue to be different opportunities.

But the second will be the figuring out, and being able to monetize, the emergence of all the digital transformation activities that are happening. When I say monetize, I mean that not just from the distribution standpoint but also from the solution providers' standpoint. There's a lot of things going on, and one of the advantages of having spent two years as a solution provider is that I got to kind of really see how hard it is to make investments and have those investments pay off in areas that aren't obvious. So, back in the day, a new product came out, a new category came out, not much changed. You go find a couple people, you train them, you get products shipped, you order it, you deliver it, same old thing. Now it's totally different. How do you charge somebody for IoT? What's the business model, right? What's the business model for artificial intelligence? Machine learning?

What's different? 

What's happening is, and it's very much similar as it was with the cloud six or seven or eight years ago: Cloud. Cloud. Cloud. It's all people were talking about. Back at some convention, you and I probably talked about it, right? And it took forever for the conversation to merge into, OK, what's the business model? How can people make money at it?

Now that's emerged. We now know that. It's become very obvious. Well, the same thing is happening with these other emerging technologies, and we're still trying to figure that out. And that I think over the next couple of years will be one of the most significant things. And it's not just the solution providers trying to figure it out. Customers are trying to figure it out, solution providers are, vendors, and the disties are also trying to figure it out. So that's the most significant change. 

About the China tariffs, distributors say no impact, or virtually no impact. Is that true? 

I honestly don't know. I haven't spent enough time on the topic with them. I haven't spent enough time really understanding the financials. So it would be hard for me to comment on that one.

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