Guest Column | December 20, 2021

Distribution Industry Makes New Strategic Investments

By Frank Vitagliano, Global Technology Distribution Council


Understanding where the IT distribution industry is headed begins with the perspective of global, regional, and country leaders in the business. The Global Technology Distribution Council has been capturing such insights for two decades at an annual forum focused sharply on ever-changing market dynamics and ways to continuously strengthen channel partnerships.

This year’s interactive virtual format brought together GTDC members – the world’s top technology distributors – with vendor community executives, industry analysts, media, consultants, influencers, and others from across North America and EMEA. Discussions featured panelists with a frontline view of what’s happening and how the channel can best capitalize. Speakers shed new light on the past year and what to expect in 2022 and where solutions providers likely need the most help.

Education and training remain fundamental, including with respect to fast-evolving distributor-vendor partnerships, which the GTDC is addressing through a new related program in 2022. As the 2021 GTDC Forum reinforced, distributors and vendors are playing a critical role in building out applications and infrastructure, support, and financial programs, as well as business models empowering IT ecosystems.

Investing In Tomorrow …Today

Preparations are already under way to resume the popular in-person approach to GTDC conferences in 2022. We firmly believe in the power of face-to-face engagement yet gained extraordinary value by being able to maintain industry dialog, awareness, and collaboration in virtual settings during the most crucial of times – as the pandemic struck and afterward.

For our 20th anniversary of the GTDC Forum (previously GTDC Summit), we felt it was especially important to look at how distributors are investing in tomorrow … today. You can access on-demand session replays to delve into the details.

Some of the key 2021 Forum takeaways include:

  • The shift from “sell” to “serve” has substantial implications for the entire industry – with emerging distribution-led value chains supporting innovative consumption models
  • Channel ecosystems are relying on distributors in unprecedented ways, particularly relative to accelerated WFH momentum, IoT initiatives, and XaaS dimensions to current operations
  • Panelists and speakers cited “once-in-a-generation” type of channel opportunities here now and ahead, particularly in relation to establishing creative connections to emerging marketplaces 
  • Supply-chain constraints add to the reasons for increased proactive communication and effectively setting expectations as related challenges likely continue well into 2022
  • Solution providers have seen substantial increases in cloud adoption for the third straight year of 40%+ growth – with accelerated movement from single application use to more extensive platform adoption
  • The industry must rally in the creation of a stronger culture of cybersecurity defense, as business and end user concerns escalate while new threats blur criminal lines between nation states and cybersecurity gangs
  • Pre-transactional support, guidance, and training will all be especially crucial in the channel’s overall success in meeting changing demands of SMBs as well as larger enterprises in the “new norm”
  • Sustainability measures can be a differentiator in helping channel companies successfully market and sell products, warranting new scrutiny, collaboration, and partnership from loading docks to doorsteps
  • Emerging and more established tech vendors are leveraging distributors to extend their channel reach for more customers, broader geographic coverage, and deeper vertical market expertise

Melding And Morphing … Far Beyond ‘The Mold’

The trends mentioned above are advancing as long-standing traditional advantages of technology distributors have essentially morphed over decades – and are now melding with an entirely new breed of channel business services they are introducing. Many channel “outsiders” as well as others, however, lack an informed understanding of the deeper value distributors represent today beyond hardware and software delivery, financing, and pre-sales support, for example.

Most of my career prior to becoming CEO of the GTDC three years ago was in positions working with distributors, which gave me a better appreciation of the depth and capacity from both vendor and solutions provider perspectives. That experience showed me how learning more can make a profound difference for any company in the IT industry – particularly given the vital anticipated role of ecosystems and partnerships in powering the future.

The Channel’s Digital Calling

Delivery won’t be in the product; it will be in multivendor solutions that propel businesses amidst uncertainty, growing technological complexity (not just innovation), and the ability to seamlessly integrate better capabilities and functionality.

In short, it’s a calling to the channel to navigate, decipher, simplify, and deploy what businesses truly need across the world. No single vendor can get this even close to right.

Count on distributors as a reliable partner to support your interests – your end game. Their existing, new, and emerging competencies can be major game changers wherever you’re looking to grow.

About The Author

Frank was named the chief executive officer of the Global Technology Distribution Council in April 2019. He focuses on strengthening partnerships between members and vendors by addressing industry-wide issues and opportunities related to the essential role of distribution in the IT channel. GTDC members drive more than $150 billion in annual worldwide sales of products, services, and solutions through diverse business channels.

About The GTDC

The Global Technology Distribution Council is the industry consortium representing the world’s leading tech distributors. GTDC members drive an estimated $150 billion in annual worldwide sales of products, services, and solutions through diverse business channels. GTDC conferences support the development and expansion of strategic supply chain partnerships that continually address the fast-changing marketplace needs of vendors, end customers, and distributors. GTDC members include AB S.A (WSE: ABPL), Almo Corporation, Arrow Electronics (NYSE: ARW), CMS Distribution, Computer Gross Italia (MI: SES), D&H Distributing, ELKO, Exertis, Esprinet (PRT.MI), Exclusive Networks, Infinigate, Ingram Micro, Intcomex, Logicom (CSE:LOG), Siewert & Kau, SiS Technologies (HKSE: 0529), SYNNEX (NYSE: SNX), Tarsus, Tech Data, TESSCO Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: TESS), TIM AG and Westcon-Comstor.