By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor
During the CompTIA Breakaway event earlier this month (yes, I am behind on writing this, thanks for reminding me), I sat down with Ingram Micro's Kirk Robinson, VP and GM of commercial markets, and Jason Bystrak, sales director for the services division, to talk about a new Ingram Micro initiative — its refreshed and expanded focus on SMB.
Now, don't get me wrong, Ingram has long enjoyed strong ties to channel partners with deep SMB relationships. But, as Robinson explained, this effort strives to further empower those Ingram partners around financing, education, events, and, last but not least, vendor products truly built for SMB customers. "We've always had an SMB team, but we realized we could do so much more," explains Robinson. Ingram currently has thousands of SMB-oriented customers (it classifies channel partners as such if they primarily serve end users with fewer than 100 seats), and the distributor is working to deepen its understanding of those partners through its business intelligence efforts.
Key to this effort is a reinvigorated effort to communicate to Ingram vendor partners about the true needs of an SMB-servicing channel. As Robinson pointed out, many vendors have product lines labeled SMB, but very few of them have actual purpose-built solutions that truly meet the needs of the SMB customer and its VAR or MSP partner. "We're working closely with our vendors to make sure that the SMB offerings are, in actuality, a unique product for the SMB market," says Robinson.
One prime reason for this refreshed focus is the hand-in-glove fit of SMB customers with cloud offerings. Bystrak explains that as Ingram continues to build its Cloud Marketplace, an aggregation site for cloud products, it has discovered a rich connection between SMB-oriented partners and cloud. "There are a couple reasons," explains Bystrak. "One, cloud allows for enterprise-class solutions at a SMB price;two, SMB customers don't have to go through as many business model changes as the enterprise to take advantage of cloud; and three, many SMBs find the monthly billing model associated with cloud to be a much more manageable IT cost."
To support this SMB initiative, Ingram has launched a new Web presence (www.ingrammicro.com/sbg) and has three offerings packed with education about SMB opportunity — the SMB Alliance Community, its PSC Summit, and its Cloud Summit and Cloud Marketplace.