We generally think of technology as “new.” But according to Kevin Murai, the CEO of Fremont, Calif.-based distribution giant SYNNEX Corp., many technologies take incremental steps forward but nonetheless help MSPs and resellers create solutions that enable new ways of doing things for their customers. And for the new technologies, Murai has invested in training and education to get customers down the first few miles on the road to competency. He sat down with ChannelPro-SMB at the company’s Inspire Conference this past fall that featured the Hall of Inspiration, a showcase of solutions for just about anything you can imagine in the disciplines of cloud, security, healthcare, Internet of Things, and so many more. This is an edited excerpt of that conversation.
ChannelPro-SMB What technologies are you following that you think may be a part of your customers’ universe in the longer term?
Kevin Murai There are so many broad things to talk about. One is the Internet of Things, and a lot of the [technologies] aren’t necessarily breakthrough—they’re not leading-edge. [Instead,] you have a lot of things that are steps forward on technology that really enable new ways of doing things. Deployment of broadband everywhere. And 4G, and now soon 5G, creating a much bigger pipe into the internet from anywhere. That in conjunction with a lot of other devices that are being connected to the internet. So you have all of this data coming in—what can you do with that? But there are inherent problems and challenges with that too. You have to figure out how you properly look at data and the right questions to ask to either take immediate action or gain better insight into what’s going on.
From a net-new technology perspective, I think areas that are completely different, like 3-D printing, continue to hold a lot of promise. But where they intersect is creating the opportunity for new ways of doing things—things that never existed before. And so how does that transform things in your life? How does it transform business and business process? How do you take that to the next level and create a customer experience that your competitors don’t have?
Broadly speaking, that’s really where the big opportunities are coming from. And the opportunities truly are limitless—it is up to your imagination what you do. From that, though, what we’re trying to show in the Hall of Inspiration is, how do you then bring that to life?
Because you can talk at 30,000 feet, but ultimately, it is like boiling the ocean until you pick those few things that you can say, “Here’s an example of a real solution, [and] I can show you how it has already been deployed; how it’s actually transformed the way either the city or this enterprise has done things before. And it’s something that you can now take and replicate on a scaled basis.” That’s where the real growth opportunity is.
ChannelPro-SMB How many of your customers are taking advantage of the solutions that you’ve put together in the Hall of Inspiration?
Murai For those who are at least embarking on the path to create growth out of new business, probably quite a good percentage. Those that are developing practices around some of it, it’s a smaller number. But it’s starting to grow. So we’re still in early innings on our existing channel partners really taking advantage of [those technologies]. But even in the world of some of the newer technologies like cloud, as an example, what we’re seeing is not just our existing channel partners figuring out how to modify their own business models, but we also have a number of channel partners that we’ve never dealt with before.
Now, they’re not necessarily net-new businesses, but what you find is those that have done consulting work or systems integration work in the past, where they haven’t had an interest in say, selling software, now it’s very easy for them to do so. And it ties well to the type of services business model that they had. So there’s big opportunity out there.
Our legacy customers [face] a new set of competitors coming on board, but there’s still time for our legacy partners to really gear up, leverage the coverage that they already have with their customer sets, and still stay at the leading edge of competing.