From The Editor | April 21, 2010

Anticipation - and a little chat with Kirk Robinson


By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor

While Ingram Micro's spring VentureTech Network invitational event kicks off formally tonight, I had the chance to chat with Kirk Robinson, VP of Ingram Micro's channel marketing program, early on Wednesday. Kirk was already excited about the announcements that will come at this event, among them the further unveiling of the IM Business Intelligence initiative. Ingram already went public with its plans to better utilize the business data culled from its many vendor and VAR partners across the country (See release here) and now it is launching a new portal through which partners can access their own business intelligence as a new service. The goal, says Kirk, is to leverage seven years of data to see trends and create better marketing and sales plans.

"The center was just a formality, we've been putting this all together under one roof, with one focus, for a while now," explains Kirk. The portal provides, exclusively to VTN partners, a seven-year look back at their sales history with Ingram. Why? Well, Kirk is going to explain that in detail tomorrow, and I've promised not to steal his thunder. But, consider what you as a business owner could do if you could look at your sales history and see who hadn't returned to do business, who should be in need of a server refresh, who might be buying from another source? You would no longer being making cold calls, you could be re-engaging with customer you might have let slip off the top of your to-do list and increasing your visibility with them. Or you may be able to build a marketing plan that targets all your customers who are still using old Microsoft OS and might be ready to migrate to Windows 7. "This data lets you make a proactive sales call, and nothing bad has ever come out of a proactive sales call," says Kirk.

With the portal in place, Ingram will also be offering training and guidance to partners around using and profiting from this opportunity. "We are looking for customers who want to do business in a different light," says Kirk. "This may not be right for everyone, but we really think the opportunity is rich around this data." Ingram has historically understood the value of its databases filled with vendor, partner, and end user information, but it has taken some time to determine the best way to use that data. "We knew we had analytics that we could use to help our vendors, we've done that for a while now," says Kirk. "And we always knew we were sitting on a gold mine with this information, so this is a natural progression."

What else would Kirk tell me? Well, there are some next-step applications already in the works, plus two more initiatives: VTN Incentive Support and VTN Connect. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about those.

Until then, follow my coverage on Twitter #AllinVTN and listen to Kirk tell you a little more about the BI announcement.