From The Editor | May 19, 2009

Inside Ingram Partner Connection Summit Day #1

Edit Gennifer Biggs Inside The ConnectWise Event - Chicago Editor Gennifer Biggs is live from the Ingram Partner Connection Summit in Hollywood, FL, starting Wednesday, May 20. She'll bring you insight from Ingram executives, channel partners, and a wide array of vendor partners.

Day #1: Empowerment and Experience

As I wandered through the offerings of the first day of Ingram’s Partner Connection Summit at the Westin Diplomat in Fort Lauderdale, FL, I was struck by the tone of helpfulness. Banners provided short VAR testimonials about empowerment in their business, and the schedule included presentations such as SMB market research, by Joslyn Faust, principal analyst for SMB Research Group, Gartner, and Getting to Know Ingram Micro, by Jeff Marks, area VP of sales for the VAR division, East, of Ingram.

Faust spoke about clear trends showing that the smaller members of the SMB market are hunkering down during the slow economy and doing nothing to build business or expand their offerings, as opposed to the larger SMB, which are examining their core set of key skills and then honing in on ways they can expand on that foundation of expertise. (I’ll talk more about this later)

Marks, on the other hand, provided the kind of “let us tell you how we can help” sort of presentation that fully supports the theme of this partner event. When I spoke with Anne Wilcox, VP of customer and solutions marketing at Ingram, she explained that I would see many of those sorts of presentations, both from Ingram and the vendors in attendance. The goal is educating those in attendance — VAR partners that are still building a relationship with Ingram — about where they can build their business (technology offerings), how they can build their business (using Ingram support such as financing options), and how they can tell customers what they have to offer (marketing 101).

“Empowerment is our message,” explains Wilcox. “We want to give them the tools — marketing, technology, business tools — that lead them to growth.” The end result, she adds, will be VARs that walk away from this event with a good idea of new or developing technology that would be a good fit for their existing expertise, allowing them to move into new or expanded markets, as well as an understanding of the many programs in place at Ingram that support their efforts.

Lastly, Wilcox is adamant about the message that VARs must market themselves to keep their pipeline full of potential customers, they cannot rely on their old recruiting methods in today’s new economy. “You can’t cut out the crucial building block, you are cutting back on the area that keeps those customers coming in,” says Wilcox. “Instead, we want to challenge them to take control and drive their business forward rather than letting the market drive them.”

Experience A New Opening Reception
To cap off the first day of presentations and welcome guests, Ingram hosted the Experience Center, a fun blend of technology showcase and cocktail party. In four quadrants, guests could mingle with the vendors showcasing their technology in real-life settings, such as the healthcare area, with snacks to match the theme. The event showcased digital signage, integrated healthcare solutions such as EMR capture, virtualization and more.

Watch here for a quick interview with Ingram specialists in that area—coming soon!

On the schedule for Day #2: a chat with Chris Squier and Tom Jones, technology solutions engineers for Ingram, and a trip through the Technology Fair (I hear Ricoh has a printer that works with your BlackBerry for wireless printing options - we'll see if we can get my flight itinerary on paper!)