Guest Column | June 18, 2019

Reading The IT Leaves, Listening To Channel Needs

By Frank Vitagliano, Global Technology Distribution Council

Listen Ear

When I became CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council at the end of April, a couple of things stood out to me: 1) the unique timing, with the entire industry and channel at a pivotal juncture; and 2)  how my background with leading technology companies and solutions providers could bring fresh value and perspective to the organization.

Most of my 30-plus-year career has centered on channel partnerships. Distributors have been instrumental – as the hub in a marketplace thriving on small- and midsize business growth and continued expansion into larger enterprises worldwide.

Instead of merely remaining relevant over the decades, distributors have continually demonstrated the ability to remain essential to the IT supply chain. Distributor services and support are needed more than ever due to the complexity resulting from overall digital transformation sweeping the industry.

Partnerships are what will drive this new wave of innovation – people and services as well as products, but with intent on much more than resolving the “pain points” of the past; this is about the customer experience going forward. And it’s also about the experience of everyone in the ecosystem.

Mutual interests are at stake, and common ground will ultimately conquer the limitless white space ahead. The GTDC is centrally positioned to provide thought leadership, industry analysis, and key partnerships that will help address and capitalize on emerging opportunities for all participants in the IT supply chain.

45 Days In, 3 Decades Stored

My approach during the past 45 days as GTDC CEO has been to listen and absorb what all sides of the channel are communicating. Success hinges on understanding each aspect of this dynamic ever-evolving ecosystem primarily composed of solutions providers, vendor channel leaders and distributors. When all points are firing on all cylinders, the power and scale are nothing short of extraordinary.

That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, nor will it be in such an era of disruption, where innovation can outpace the end customer’s ability to keep pace, for example, or channel companies can fall short in properly educating them on how best to transform. Distributors, vendors and solutions providers are coming together to advance the overall channel value proposition through pioneering new approaches across all segments, from AI/Machine Learning, Big Data Analytics and IOT Decentralized Data to Quantum Computing, Security Everywhere, and, of course, Cloud.

Considering these advances and the mobile environments in which they will proliferate, it’s easy to see why the channel’s opportunities have never been greater or more meaningful. All companies and organizations are reassessing and reevaluating, seeking new edge, deeper efficiency and higher value in all they do. That includes the GTDC, of course.

The role of the GTDC going forward, must be to:

  • Educate the marketplace on value that distributors provide
  • Assist vendor organizations with analysis, training, and education
  • Expand vendor awareness and support of distribution’s value
  • Provide forums to network and solve common problems
  • Develop key partnerships to advance overall channel impact

As the GTDC completes its annual EMEA conference this week in Lisbon, we will quickly turn our attention to the GTDC Summit in San Francisco, Sept. 4-6, bringing together vendor and distribution leaders to drive unprecedented channel opportunity.

Unquestionable Driving Forces

We will always welcome input at any time. Although I made listening my top priority in getting acclimated to the GTDC and its mission, I will always take extra time to listen and learn. No matter how fast innovation occurs, people and partnerships are the unquestionable driving forces. That’s never going to change, nor should it.

The other factors that should always be top of mind and never discounted: the end customer’s expectations and experience. That’s what will matter most – not inventory turns and days of sales outstanding, or similar metrics. Such fundamental metrics aren’t of lesser importance, however, as right time/right place delivery isn’t any less important. Credit and financial services are also intrinsic aspects of distributor expertise, mastered and refined over many years.

Over the last 30 years, I have watched distribution continually evolve their capabilities and grow well beyond the pick, pack, ship and credit days, reinventing in countless ways as a bevy of tech companies routinely come and go. Each year, hundreds of new vendors also enter distribution to capture channel magic. It’s a channel that I’m confident will become even stronger and more magical in the months and years ahead. Investments and strategies already lay the groundwork for tremendous channel progress, but a lot more is warranted before anyone can claim victory.

Partnership Innovations Meet Tech Breakthroughs

It will be interesting to see what more can be done to accelerate channel progress and partnership innovation. It’s the type of innovation every business needs yet sometimes takes a back seat to technological breakthroughs. The meeting of distributor, vendor and solutions provider minds will ultimately make the difference – not the individual products and brands they endorse.

if you agree, disagree or believe other influences will rise in prominence. Regardless of what you have to say, I’m always ready to listen!

Frank Vitagliano, Global Technology Distribution CouncilAbout 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 industrywide 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 GTDC is the industry consortium representing the world’s leading tech distributors. 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), ABC Data, Almo Corporation, Arrow Electronics (NYSE: ARW), CMS Distribution, Compuage Infocom Ltd. (NSE: COMPINFO), Computer Gross Italia (MI: SES), D&H Distributing, ELKO, Exclusive Networks, Ingram Micro, Intcomex, Logicom (CSE:LOG), Siewert & Kau, SiS Technologies (HKSE: 0529), SYNNEX (NYSE: SNX), Tarsus, Tech Data (NASDAQ: TECD),TESSCO Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: TESS), TIM AG and Westcon-Comstor.