CRN Exclusive: Intel VP Tichelman On Vertical Opportunities, New Incentives, Skylake And Windows 10

New Opportunities For Intel Partners

Intel, which this year is celebrating the 35th anniversary of its Intel Technology Provider program, this week unveiled vertical market partner designations and incentives for education, Internet of Things-retail and data center.

Intel Vice President Maurits Tichelman, who oversees channel sales and marketing, spoke with CRN about the company's new vertical market partner offensive, the evolution of the Intel channel, and the Skylake and Windows 10 opportunity. Following are excerpts of the discussion.

Which vertical partner designations is Intel focusing on first?

In 2015 we're going to start recognizing the resellers who are active in education [as well as Internet of Things-retail and data center verticals] by providing them with Intel's specialist designation, which basically means that when they are focusing on the education segment, we will provide them the opportunity to go for more surgical training in relation to education.

When you go into a vertical it is not only about being able to talk about a vertical, it is also about how you provide a solution. If it gets more complex, Intel can help you by giving you access to technical specialists to help build solutions in some of those verticals.

What will partners gain from these extended specialty benefits?

When [partners] are building up that knowledge in education and they become a designated Intel specialist in education, they will get additional benefits [through] additional points, marketing materials, and merchant materials specifically for the education segment.

They get an Intel specialist designation so they can use it when they go to their customers. They will have access to our technical specialists, and we'll give them more in-depth resources like data analytics, case studies and research papers.

Why did Intel decide to make the vertical partner designations now?

I'm really excited we're finally taking this route. So many partners were asking about vertical programs. We'll see how this unfolds in 2015, but there is also an opportunity to acquire new partners, hopefully, by showing what we're capable of and showing the level of depth we are willing to go in order to help partners succeed in these vertical segments.

How big an opportunity are the vertical designations for Intel partners?

I think it's huge. The channel remains strong. And it's a very good growth opportunity for Intel. The more devices that are being deployed, the more hardware is going to be connected and communicated from the edge to the cloud, the more localization is required to implement these solutions. When it comes to localization, local resellers are at the fundamental starting point of delivering and executing solutions.

How large is the Internet of Things opportunity?

In the Internet of Things retail, the opportunity is immense. But we haven’t reached out to the widest reseller base in the Internet of Things, so there is also an opportunity to acquire new partners. … Hopefully we'll get new resellers who are invested and want to join our channel program.

What kind of growth are you seeing in the data center business?

Our data center business continues to grow in the double digits, which is great, but what I'm really excited about is how the growth of our channel business in the data center space continues to accelerate. Clearly from Intel's perspective, we see that the growth of partnerships has become more and more important for Intel in terms of solutions. I'm very pleased with the evolution and development of channel partners in terms of selling data center solutions.

Talk about the Skylake and Windows 10 opportunity for partners.

Our Skylake platform will be a great opportunity for the second half of the year. We're adding the Windows 10 refresh in the second half of the year, which will provide some great excitement for resellers to go drive some opportunities with their customers. We are also very excited about delivering an increased user experience with Windows 10. Adding new products to our new platform creates a lot of positive energy for our resellers to go talk to their customers.

What kind of impact is Intel having with partners in the tablet segment?

One of the key things [for Intel] at ISS [Intel Solutions Summit] last year was when we started talking about tablets. I think I was clear [in] saying the channel would play a key role. If I look at where we are and where we finished in 2014, 50 percent of Intel-based tablets sold were through the channel. With this opportunity that Intel invested in we made life easier and simpler with our technology [for the channel].

Talk about the 2-In-1 laptop/tablet opportunity.

2-in-1s are also huge. We've seen the demand for tablets. We've seen the need for performance, and adding those together you can see that 2-in-1s are a perfect solution for many customers in business. That’s why we've seen a strong 2-in-1 business.

We've also seen the potential of the NUC [mini PC]. And we've just launched the Compute Stick (pictured), which has been amazing. The Compute Stick has created enormous interest, and the feedback is very encouraging.

Going forward, how much money can partners make by teaming with Intel?

If you stick with Intel, there is always money to be made. Your margins will increase as you continue to work with Intel and tap into the solutions, technology and resources that we make available.

If you tap into all the technologies we are providing and the way that we are manufacturing and delivering those solutions, that is where the money is for the resellers.