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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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November 8, 2022 |

Ingram Micro Sees “Recession Proof” Year Ahead for IT

On the opening day of its annual ONE conference, execs Kirk Robinson and Paul Bay (pictured left to right) said the distributor will continue investing in strategic resources like its Xvantage “digital experience” despite economic and geopolitical headwinds.

Distributors often thank attendees for their business and loyalty at partner conferences. During a keynote address at the start of Ingram Micro‘s ONE event in Orlando this morning, however, Kirk Robinson voiced a little more gratitude than usual. The last two years, he noted, have been marked by a global pandemic, logjammed supply chains, war in Europe, skyrocketing inflation, rising interest rates, and more.

“Yet despite all this, Ingram Micro put up two of the best years in the company’s history, and we owe our success to you, our channel partners,” said Robinson, an executive vice president at the company and president of its North American unit. 

Better yet, he continued, Ingram and its partners alike have reason to expect more growth ahead despite widespread fears of an economic downturn. “The good news is, if you listen to the tech analysts, they’re all saying that IT spending is recession proof,” Robinson said. “They’re saying investing in technology is widely considered a business driver and not just a cost.”

Gartner in particular, he noted, expects global technology spending to climb 5% to $4.6 trillion next year.

Paul Bay, Ingram’s CEO, struck a similarly upbeat note during a Q&A appearance with Robinson this morning. Yes, he conceded, sales of products like laptops and webcams in huge demand earlier have slowed recently, but there’s plenty of opportunity in other markets.

“Things like data center, networking, cloud, hybrid, those types of areas are still growing very quickly,” Bay said. Despite macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds, he continued, “we’re still seeing the demand that’s there and we’re seeing very few cancellations.”

As a result, Bay added, Ingram has no plans to slow spending on strategic initiatives. “No matter the times and the issues that we can’t control, we’re going to continue to invest,” he said.

Much of that investment will flow toward ongoing efforts by Ingram to establish itself as a leader in ease of doing business and partner satisfaction.

“We in the Ingram family firmly believe that the way for us to compete and win in this channel is to be completely customer obsessed, providing the best customer experience every day and delivering real value to our partners,” said Robinson in his keynote, noting that partners no longer define value simply as better margins or faster shipping. “You want us to take complexity out of your business and provide the right services at the right times to help you run your business, grow faster, and do more for your customers.”

Ingram’s Xvantage “digital experience” is core to its plans for realizing that goal. Previewed in May and shipped in September, the system aims to connect partners, vendors, and Ingram’s own employees in a unified, streamlined, heavily automated online ecosystem backed by extensive artificial intelligence. 

At present, over 41,000 Ingram partners worldwide have migrated onto Xvantage, including more than 25,000 in North America. Robinson, who expects all of the company’s North American resellers to have made the switch by the first week of December, is among many Ingram executives not afraid to set high expectations for the platform’s importance and impact.

“Xvantage is going to be a game changer in our industry. I guarantee it,” he said this morning.

Recent additions to Xvantage include “quote to order” functionality that lets partners request quotes, receive them, review them, and then turn them into purchases with a single click, all through the same online interface.

“Everything is one platform,” said Sanjib Sahoo, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Ingram, in a conversation with ChannelPro. “You don’t have to go to multiple websites, multiple places, multiple calls.”

Automated configuration to order functionality also added to Xvantage recently lets users shorten another historically labor-intensive process. “It is much faster and it takes much less steps,” Sahoo says. 

Joanna Muzzatti, an Ingram partner invited to share initial impressions of Xvantage on stage this morning, said the first of her employees to try out the system was surprised by how much time it saved him.

“Because of the efficiencies, after the first week he said he feels like he’s already gotten back half a day of his time by not having to transact, not having to pick up the phone, not having to escalate, but just having the information there,” said Muzzatti, who is CEO of Commerx a global provider of telecom and internet services with U.S. headquarters in Phoenix.

Sahoo expects partners to collect even greater dividends over time as Xvantage’s machine learning engine gathers personalized information about their unique needs and patterns.

“The more you use platform, the algorithm gets better and knows you and predicts better,” he says.

Xvantage’s vendor-facing components are due out by the end of the year. When fully in place, Sahoo says, the new functionality will make collaborating with Ingram and its resellers on joint opportunities far easier. Those resellers will benefit too, he continues, by gaining “access to more SKUs, because it’s easy to integrate and manage the vendor.”

Linking vendors to Xvantage’s AI components will enable the platform to design multi-product bundles automatically as well, and recommend them to partners based on individualized assessments of their skill set and customer base.

In development for later release is new pricing functionality that will sift through the host of partner program memberships, promotions, and product- or deal-specific variables that can factor into solution pricing to deliver a single figure to partners in seconds.

“We want to keep on improving the experience to be really, really amazing,” Sahoo says.

According to Ingram, more than 525 solution providers, 350 manufacturers, and 330 Ingram employees are attending ONE this week. The conference concludes tomorrow.

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