Ingram Micro has unveiled a new “digital experience” meant to connect channel pros with everything and everyone they need to do business with the distribution giant.
“This is the new way that the partners will engage and work with us,” said Sanjib Sahoo, Ingram’s executive vice president and chief digital officer, in a conversation with ChannelPro.
Named Xvantage and previewed during Ingram’s Cloud Summit event in Miami this morning, the system is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. and Germany this summer, with a global rollout to follow later this year and into 2023.
According to Sahoo, Xvantage will eventually replace and unify a wide range of currently separate tools that partners use to manage everything from order and subscription management to quoting, invoicing, billing, and more. Ingram will begin rolling its cloud marketplace into the platform, which runs on Ingram’s CloudBlue platform, later this year.
“It will serve as a single pane of glass,” Sahoo says, offering “a holistic picture of everything.”
In doing so, adds Paul Bay, Ingram’s CEO, it will reduce operational overhead and leave partners more time for serving customers. “Today this industry’s made up of multiple different connection points and touch points,” he says. “We’re bringing that all together.”
More than just a tool for buying and selling or a traditional partner portal offering access to training materials and marketing collateral, Sahoo emphasizes, Xvantage is an “ecosystem” that Ingram’s employees and vendor partners will use as well. The goal is to make communicating and collaborating simpler for all of those communities by enabling them to share information in one universally accessible place and format.
“We want to create a new experience for partners in the industry, take the complexity out, and make it easy,” Sahoo says.
Richard Tallman, senior director of global cloud and MSP at security vendor Bitdefender, is looking forward to that experience. “It will help us streamline, because we’re directly integrated,” he says.
Xvantage will also provide business insights to partners via an extensive library of content produced in-house and sourced from third parties, Sahoo says. “It’s almost like having a $54 billion company backing you up and giving you an advantage to grow your business, work smarter, and create and capture value,” he says.
Machine learning technology will continuously ensure those materials and everything else on the site is customized for individual users in response to their purchasing history, customer base, and supplier relationships. “It’s not one size fits all,” Sahoo says. “It will automatically have a different look and feel and experience based on the persona of the partner.”
Xvantage is also an early manifestation of more ambitious plans by Ingram to turn its vast storehouse of buying and selling information into a source of business intelligence for its partners. The system will flag opportunities to combine cloud services, endpoints, and physical infrastructure into solutions for specific customers, based on products they’ve bought in the past and other factors.
“Ingram is now becoming a business and data analytics platform,” said Victor Baez, Ingram’s senior vice president of cloud channel sales, during a Cloud Summit keynote yesterday.
Bay too calls analytics a strategic element of how Ingram will soon go to market with partners.
“It’ll be much more of a proactive conversation than it is today,” he says. “We can create bundles and we can create insights and go have a much more intelligent conversation with the channel partners, and ultimately out to the end user, about how we can help them build a more profitable and productive business.”
Partners who wish to will have multiple options for integrating their own systems and workflows with Xvantage, including an API, a “micro front end,” and even a connection with Amazon Alexa.
Xvantage arrives some six months after Ingram rolled out the Flexible Subscription Engine, a heavily automated “quote to cash” portal for delivering and administering as-a-service solutions that combine cloud software and infrastructure with on-premises hardware. Both systems are manifestations of a larger tech-driven partner satisfaction drive launched three years ago.
According to Sahoo, Ingram will ship updates to Xvantage roughly every two weeks after it launches this summer. “We are going to incorporate feedback very fast,” he says.
The company plans to launch digital partner enablement resources beyond Xvantage at a faster clip going forward too.
“You’re going to see a much more condensed timeline in terms of new offerings that we’ll be able to provide to our partners,” Bay says. “They will be coming a much more rapid pace.”