6 Ways Intel Is Helping Partners Weather The Coronavirus Impact

“We put our experts together internally and said, ‘Hey, what can we do to help our partner network survive through this?'” Intel channel executive Greg Baur says of the new 'comprehensive' relief package for the chipmaker's channel partners.

Intel Aims To Help Partners Lower Costs, Navigate Supply Chain Issues

Intel is stepping up to the plate to help channel partners that are reeling from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said the relief efforts, unveiled Monday, consist of measures meant to help partners lower business costs, navigate supply chain hurdles, transition customers to new IT environments and maintain their status in the Intel Technology Provider program, which is being retooled into the new Intel Partner Alliance program in the second half of this year.

[Related: Intel CEO Bob Swan: Chip Demand Up Due To Work-From-Home Rush]

"We put our experts together internally and said, ‘Hey, what can we do to help our partner network survive through this?'" said Greg Baur, Intel's vice president of global scale and partners, in an interview with CRN. "Some of it was ideas that came from partners. A lot of it was things … we put together. But as we start stitching this entire package together, it's become a pretty comprehensive package that we think the partners are really going to want."

Intel also reiterated plans to hold Intel Partner Connect, the company's annual partner conference, as a digital event in late May to early June—one each for the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia regions. The Americas digital event will happen May 20-21, according to Intel's website, and it will include executive keynotes, live Q&A sessions, matchmaking opportunities and a virtual showcase.

"We've got a ton of content that can help educate our partners on how to help them design products that get them out of this situation," Baur said.

What follows are six measures Intel is taking to help channel partners weather the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic. These details and more are provided in Intel's new COVID-19 Partner Response Webpage that will offer the latest updates, including blog posts, videos and partner success stories.

More Flexibility, Higher Value For Intel Technology Provider Program Points

As part of Intel's relief efforts for the channel, the company is adding flexibility and increasing the value of points for vouchers in the Intel Technology Provider program—which will effectively give partners more points to use while stretching their dollar value.

Intel said it will extend the validity of points that expired at the end of March for a full 90 days, giving partners more opportunities to use them for rewards and vouchers. The company said partners should use these points on vouchers to help delay short-term costs before they expire on June 30.

The company is also offering an unlimited 10 percent discount for distribution vouchers until June 30. That means partners can use fewer points to buy vouchers used for Intel products through authorized distributors. For instance, a $50 voucher that would typically cost 560 points will now cost 504.

Expanded Period To Qualify For New Gold, Titanium Tiers

When Intel retools its existing partner programs into the new Intel Partner Alliance in the second half of the year, the company will introduce a slightly reworked tier membership system that will consist of member, Gold and Titanium levels, the latter two of which will provide partners with additional levels of support and resources if they obtain certain sales levels.

In recognizing that the coronavirus pandemic could hurt sales for partners, Intel is extending the period in which it measures sales activity to qualify for the Gold and Titanium tiers, which are known as the Gold and Platinum tiers under the current Intel Technology Provider program. This means Intel will look at sales activities stretching back to the last 18 months instead of the standard 12 months to determine tier status for partners in the new Intel Partner Alliance.

Once their initial tier status is determined for the Intel Partner Alliance launch in the second half of this year, partners will retain that tier for all of 2021. Then in 2022, Intel will move back to its previous method of using 12 months to determine tier levels for partners.

Waived Costs, Return Period Extension For Warranties

Intel is seeking to make product warranties more flexible and less costly for partners.

First, the company said it will cover shipping costs associated with standard warranty returns for defective products by providing a prepaid UPS e-label in the U.S. and Canada. The company will also cover costs in the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America regions.

Second, the company is extending the period in which partners can return defective products under the advanced warranty replacement process to 90 days from 60. The advanced warranty replacement process is only available to Gold and Platinum partners in the Intel Technology Provider program.

Assistance Hotline For Gold, Platinum Partners

Intel said its global customer support services remain open and that partners should continue to use the company's web ticketing services to get the best results.

However, for Intel Gold and Platinum partners who "are dealing with unique circumstances" and need immediate help, the company has set up a temporary hotline. The company said partners should use the hotline if they “find the normal support path is not sufficient," and a customer support manager will respond within one business day.

Access To Intel's Supply Chain Experts

To help partners navigate myriad supply chain issues brought upon by the pandemic, Intel is opening up its network of global supply chain experts.

The company said its supply chain networks can advise partners on best practices for a number of topics, including sustainability, strategic sourcing, supply chain digitization, global trade and tariffs, circular economy, business continuity, smart logistics and corporate social responsibility.

Intel noted that its global supply chain has received accolades for being one of the best in the industry, getting a nod in the top 10 companies for eight consecutive years.

Marketing, Training Resources For 'Life At Home' And Business Continuity

The pandemic has forced many office workers to work from home while also threatening the continuity of normal business operations from an IT perspective.

To those ends, Intel is offering partners training and marketing resources to aid with the work-from-home shift, disaster recovery and business continuity.

Materials include white papers on how Intel's IT organization set up business continuity and disaster recovery plans using technologies like Intel's vPro management platform.