Hybrid cloud computing, cybersecurity, and business process automation are three of many giant opportunities in IT today, says Ingram Micro, but outdated ordering and billing systems are getting in the way of exploiting them.
“Over the last 18 months, I’ve spoken with channel chiefs, vendor CEOs, and many of you,” said Paul Bay, executive vice president and president of global technology solutions at Ingram, during the distributor’s annual Ingram Micro ONE conference this morning. “The main themes I’m hearing are that we need to modernize the systems we all use. They are too manual and too antiquated from 40 years of legacy business processes that have completely changed over the last two years of transforming within our industry.”
Both Bay’s presentation and the ONE conference, which is being held online this week, come days after the official rollout of the first in a projected series of systems aimed at addressing that feedback. Called the Flexible Subscription Engine, the new portal is designed to provide a comprehensive, heavily automated “quote to cash” interface for delivering and managing as-a-service solutions that combine cloud software and infrastructure with on-premises hardware.
“Our partners need a much easier way to sell, bill, and renew their reoccurring business,” said Bay in a conversation with ChannelPro. Those are normally separate, disconnected processes involving different backend tools, he notes.
“There’s a disconnect between the quoting, the ordering, and the invoicing, lots of swivel chair, manual processes throughout that,” Bay says, resulting in higher overhead for resellers and longer wait times for end users. “There’s also a lack of contract visibility that can create credit risk,” he adds.
The Flexible Subscription Engine is designed to eliminate those issues by providing real-time visibility across the entire subscription lifecycle through a single console. According to Bay, the new system helps partners complete processes that sometimes took days before in hours or even minutes instead.
It also, he continues, makes combining cloud-based and physical offerings in the same solution simpler. “We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our cloud marketplace to be able to offer an aggregated solution,” Bay says. “We’re leveraging those capabilities to allow partners to work seamlessly across marketplaces and our e-commerce platforms.”
The Flexible Subscription Engine consolidates and extends previously distinct tools and services in additional ways. Subscription-based hardware financing has been available to Ingram partners as far back as 2016, for example, and a license renewal management portal named RenewVue first rolled out at the ONE conference in 2018.
“We’re taking those tools that we’ve created and we’re giving [partners] basically one seamless view across the board,” Bay says.
Ingram has further solutions aimed at streamlining manual processes in development. “We have many more engines coming,” Bay says. Capital and resources provided by Platinum Equity, the private equity investor that acquired Ingram for $7.2 billion earlier this year, is accelerating that process, he continues.
“This is an example of them understanding our strategies and wanting to help invest and accelerate,” Bay says. “I think you’ll see a continued pace of how quickly we get these engines out to our partners.”