APC SVP McKernan On New Managed Services Program, IoT And The Future Of Power Management

Managed Services Charge

Rob McKernan, the senior vice president of the $2 billion global IT channels for APC by Schneider Electric, spoke with CRN about the formal launch of the company's new managed services program and the changes aimed at driving a holistic shift in the company's business with partners.

The APC program is the culmination of a two-year effort to deliver a strategic service provider offensive with feedback from more than 1,000 partners, APC executives said.

Below is an excerpt from the discussion with McKernan.

Talk about the partner opportunity here with the new managed services program.

I believe the next few years is going to be the best opportunity we have had with our partners, going back to the WinTel server in the early years. This is a big shift for a couple of reasons: the manageability of it and the trends that are out there with edge, convergence and IoT. Customers need help from their partners on all these trends, and the power-cooling infrastructure needs are front and center. That's why this is very, very exciting.

What kinds of changes have been made at APC to fuel the strategic services offensive?

We have shifted more sales resources to the partners. We have doubled it. We have shifted R&D resources to this area. It is a significant shift. All of our developers are thinking through this managed services lens. That wasn't happening before. It was a 100 percent end-user-focused lens. Now it's, ’What is the value proposition for the end user we are trying to solve and how does the managed service provider play a role for us?’ That is changing our R&D, our own services, our sales.

Look at our call center, I have 150 people in Rhode Island and they are learning this. It is a different message – pre- and post-sales.

What is the revenue opportunity around the new IT managed services paradigm shift?

Right out of the gate from day one, the managed services opportunity is five times the hardware. Think about this as a hardware category partners have been living off of. So if a partner is living off hardware and it is part of their everyday business, we have multiplied their business by five times. That is managing the UPS, the life-cycle management with extended warranties, battery opportunities, upgrade opportunities. We know a lot of times that network closets are sitting there not being watched and suddenly you realize the UPS is not working in there -- the battery is out. There are quick wins here. We think it is five times and even more with life-cycle management.

What is the APC vision for power-cooling and IoT and how the company plays in that future?

Trends like IoT are providing new opportunities for our partners and certainly new opportunities for us where you have devices scattered all over the place providing information back to us. So how you take advantage of what those devices are doing and take advantage of the information those devices are providing is very, very crucial.

APC as well as Schneider Electric with our IT partners is a very, very powerful connection. I think the IT partner can really play in this. It is really a big opportunity for them. Those devices are hanging off a network and the minute it hangs off a network that is when a partner can really help with the manageability, the availability and the reliability.

Talk about the excitement you see in the market now IoT and other market shifts.

It is huge. Partners move at different speeds. But I do feel that partners are driving really fast to managed services. There are a lot of changes they can really benefit from. Partners are migrating their business and looking for other opportunities. When I hear about the partners and what they are doing, it is invigorating.

Talk about the APC channel culture in the midst of this managed services channel charge.

Partners are still the DNA of our company. We are training our salespeople differently. Our marketing message is different. Our R&D is a little bit different, but the partner business has always been so important to us. This is in our DNA. That makes the change maybe not easy, but a little bit easier. That is the nice thing about this trend, which is why I believe we'll be very successful at it. It is what we do and what we know how to do. We just have to do it better than we have been doing it over the last few years.