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News & Articles

July 27, 2020 |

Tech Data’s New Americas President Has One Word on His Mind: Acceleration

Though the details are still to be determined, John O’Shea (pictured) describes his mission as helping both Tech Data and its partners embrace next-generation market opportunities even faster than before.

John O’Shea is still thinking through the details of what he wants to accomplish as the new head of Tech Data‘s Americas business, but he has a pretty good idea of his top priority.

“The word that has been coming up over and over again for me is ‘accelerate,'” says O’Shea, who took over as Americas president for Tech Data two weeks ago upon the retirement of his predecessor, Joe Quaglia. 

Quaglia and Tech Data CEO Rich Hume, O’Shea stresses, have set a clear direction for the company as a “solutions aggregator” that helps channel pros integrate cloud computing, security, Internet of Things, and endpoint technologies to address end user needs. “Nothing changes with regard to that,” he says. Instead, the goal for the future is helping partners enter those same next-generation markets more easily, and transition from selling products to building solutions more rapidly.

“We have an incredibly important role to play as a well-capitalized global organization that really is a cornerstone for this ecosystem to step in and in new and different ways help close that equation,” O’Shea says.

Investing in platforms like Tech Data’s StreamOne cloud marketplace is a big part of the plan for realizing that goal, he continues. So too is rolling out new business intelligence systems capable of mining revenue-driving insights from Tech Data’s mountain of sales records. 

“Tech Data sits at the hub of literally more than $100 million in commerce from an IT perspective every day,” O’Shea says. “There’s a lot of valuable insights to be derived from that.” Many of them, however, go unnoticed at present. “We’ve made some great strides in that area, but quite frankly there’s much more to do,” O’Shea states.

Further investments in training programs like Tech Data’s Practice Builder offering, which teaches resellers to become solution providers in areas like cloud computing and security, are another element of O’Shea’s acceleration plan. Many partners can’t afford to navigate that transition on their own, he notes. “So they can utilize all of our skills, all of our resources, all of our investments, all of our technology, and that allows them to focus on what they’re best at.”

Hume and O’Shea will have plenty of money to spend on partner enablement and platform enhancement now that Tech Data is officially owned by Apollo Global Management. When that acquisition, which was first announced last November, closed late last month, Apollo announced plans to pour $750 million into efforts aimed at increasing Tech Data’s agility and operational efficiency. Reaction to that news from outside the company has been perhaps predictably enthusiastic.

“I had a lot of positive response from our partners, both vendors as well as channel partners,” O’Shea says. Just the same, he adds, there’s also been apprehension from channel pros about Apollo’s influence on Tech Data. O’Shea doesn’t foresee the ownership switch having much of an impact.

“From a day to day operations perspective, I don’t expect there to be any change,” he says. If anything, he adds, Tech Data will have more freedom to pursue its existing vision as it sees fit without Wall Street looking over its shoulder.

“The opportunity to do it as a private company really means having a longer-term view,” he says. “The quarterly drumbeat of the public markets causes you to behave a little bit differently.”

Though O’Shea’s title is new, he’s no newcomer to Tech Data. He joined the company, in fact, shortly after graduating from college. 

“My first job was as a temporary employee, and I started off building databases for the marketing organization,” O’Shea recalls. Ensuing positions over the next 16 years took him through Tech Data’s finance and sales organizations and eventually led to senior leadership roles as vice president of the HP Solutions Group and vice president of product marketing for networking. Most recently, he led Tech Data’s global lifecycle management business.

From 2012 to 2016, however, O’Shea worked at Vology, a Tech Data partner in Clearwater, Fla., first as senior vice president of sales and then as president. A heavyweight MSP with over 300 employees and some 260,000 devices under management today, the company was still a VAR when O’Shea arrived. Participating in the company’s strategic makeover, he observes, was good preparation for his current job. 

“[It] really gave me a unique perspective on what I think a lot of our partners are dealing with as the market is transforming, as the technology is transforming, as the economics of our business are transforming,” O’Shea says.

Nothing, of course, could have prepared O’Shea or anyone else for the arrival of COVID-19 and its severe economic effects. As company executives told ChannelPro last month, business has been relatively strong so far, for Tech Data and its partners, in strategic technologies. 

“What I’ve seen is a tremendous degree of resiliency,” says O’Shea, who expects the rapid switch to remote work arrangements in response to the pandemic to fuel sales for some time to come.

“We are going to see, I would say, permanent changes to the way that we use technology and the way that organizations do business, whether it’s schools, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s banking,” O’Shea says. “That creates a tremendous opportunity.”

Especially in cloud computing. “Growth in cloud-based technology has just gone through the roof,” O’Shea observes. Recent efforts like Tech Data’s Stay Connected program have sought to help channel pros capitalize on that trend.

“There’s a lot of information sharing, best practices sharing, to help everybody benefit from the resources that we have,” O’Shea states.

For the moment, he continues, talking to partners about needs, market conditions, and wishes for the future is what occupies most of his time. Translating that input into action will follow soon, however.

“The first 30 days is all about listening,” O’Shea says. “The next 30 days is really starting to understand and assess the best opportunities that we have to accelerate, and then really being able to come back and outline those priorities, aligned with the company strategy, to go and drive that acceleration.”

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