IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Ingram Micro to Resellers: Go Vertical

The distributor urges partners to take advantage of rising demand for high-margin infrastructure and line-of-business solutions in the education, retail, healthcare, and transportation industries. By Rich Freeman

Distributor Ingram Micro Inc. sees revenue opportunities heating up for channel partners in vertical industry solutions.

Organizations in the education, retail, healthcare, and transportation verticals especially are exhibiting increased demand for high-margin infrastructure and line-of-business solutions, according to Marty Battaglia, senior director of vertical markets at Ingram, which is headquartered in Irvine, Calif.

Selling school bus Wi-Fi systems to K-12 customers is but one example Battaglia points to of the often underappreciated ways channel pros can drive new business selling repeatable, packaged industry solutions.

Just seven percent of school districts provide internet access on buses at present, according to recent data from Kajeet Inc., an education mobility vendor based in McLean, Va. The same study estimates that students spend an average of 40 minutes a day traveling to and from school.

“That’s ample time for them to study and learn,” Battaglia observes, adding that education ISVs have begun developing products that leverage school bus Wi-fi to help parents track the whereabouts of their children too.

In the healthcare space—where global IT outlays are projected to grow at a robust 13.2 percent CAGR through 2022 to $297 billion, according to Allied Market Research—hospitals and clinics that have been aggressively deploying mobile medical hardware are now looking for help protecting those systems.

“The more mobile devices in a location, the greater the threat is for security breaches,” remarks Battaglia, who notes that upgrading a health provider’s defensive perimeter often entails upgrading their network as well.

“A lot of these new methodologies to secure and support and protect some of these networks won’t even work because the networks are so old and the infrastructure’s so old,” he says.

Retailers are modernizing their business systems too, Battaglia continues, in an effort to match the kind of friction-free customer experience e-commerce sites provide. Touchscreen point-of-sale systems and tablet-based solutions that allow roving sales associates to check product availability or order out-of-stock items for shoppers often figure in those efforts, along with products for securing physical inventory and private customer data.

Eager to capitalize on vertical spending trends like those, and to help its resellers do the same, Ingram Micro is beefing up its team of vertical market sales specialists, adding new industry-focused training courses, introducing vertical solution reference architectures in hot markets like hyperconverged infrastructure, and rolling out “plug-and-play” professional service offerings in areas like data migration and mobility management where resellers often lack in-house skills or capacity.

The overarching goal, Battaglia explains, is to help partners scale their business up and out to reach more customers in more geographies. “Many of the opportunities that are coming through the verticals are not just one location opportunities,” he says. “These are multi-layer opportunities where people need a broader footprint and broader reach to be able to install and serve that market.”

Vertical solutions aren’t the only market with big potential in Ingram’s eyes, of course. The distributor is pushing cloud computing generally and infrastructure-as-a-service specifically as well.