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In it for the long-term

Apay Obang-Oyway, Director of Cloud & Software UK&I at Ingram Micro Cloud, tells Technology Reseller why channel partners can rely on Ingram Micro Cloud to help their business grow

Apay Obang-Oyway, D

Apay Obang-Oyway, Director of Cloud & Software UK&I at Ingram Micro Cloud
Apay Obang-Oyway, Director of Cloud & Software UK&I at Ingram Micro Cloud

irector of Cloud & Software UK&I at Ingram Micro Cloud, was in bullish mood when Technology Reseller met him towards the end of 2017. Buoyed up by what he calls the IT industry’s “most exciting period in decades”, as artificial intelligence creates new services and opportunities, Ingram Micro Cloud has enjoyed another good year.

“We’ve seen very, very strong growth across multiple categories, driven predominantly by software as a service (SaaS) solutions, though the fastest growing area in H2 has probably been our infrastructure as a service business,” he said.

One of four business units within Ingram Micro – the others being Technology Solutions (distribution); Commerce & Fulfilment (fulfilment); and Lifecycle Services (logistics and repair services) – Ingram Micro Cloud helps around 2,500 resellers in the UK make the most of cloud opportunities through a range of cloud products, services and platforms.

Obang-Oyway says that with two decades of cloud experience in the US, Ingram Micro is well placed to help resellers across the spectrum cope with the challenges presented by cloud’s rapid growth.

“The challenge facing traditional businesses that have grown up in the on-premises world is all around business transformation: how do I transform my organisation?  What type of business model do I employ? what type of capabilities do I need to start building? what capabilities do I need to sell more vertically? That’s a very big challenge for a lot of partners.   For them, the key things are to choose the right partner, or partners, and to take a very measured approach with a clear strategy around what their transformation will look like,” he said.

Obang-Oyway suggests that, as part of this process, the reseller needs to assess whether the customers it has today are going to survive the transformation that is happening within their own industries. “What you don’t want is a number of customers that are essentially Blockbuster, so that when they get Blockbustered you fail with them. You need to make sure you identify the right customers to work with,” he said.

Cloud natives
At the other end of the spectrum, partners that have already transformed or were born in the cloud and are now looking to accelerate face a different set of challenges, principally around sales and marketing.

“Their biggest challenge today is being able to market themselves and their capabilities – to take their value proposition and amplify that across the market,” explained Obang-Oyway.

Not surprisingly, he argues that Ingram Micro Cloud is the right partner to help both types of reseller to maximise their potential, thanks to its capabilities in a number of key areas.

“One is around technology. We own our own platform and we develop our own API around that platform, which is very much driven by partner insight. This lets partners focus on growing their business rather than having the expense of building their own platform. That platform strength is one of the reasons partners come to us.

“The second is our expertise. Globally, we’ve been at cloud or as-a-service for nearly two decades. We started off in North America and then became a globalised cloud organisation around three or four years ago. We have technical experts – our engineers – and sales and marketing experts who understand the transformation reseller partners need to go through, the type of sales organisation they need to have, how to compensate sales people, the type of business model they need and how to get started. These people have a lot of business acumen and experience in the cloud to help partners grow.

“The third thing is we have a very good grasp of the technology solutions available in the cloud. We have about 250 different vendor solutions that we carry worldwide – and that number is continuing to grow. In the UK, we launch new solutions every month. It is not about having a warehouse of services, but about having the right solutions. We spend a lot of time and due diligence in choosing partners with the longevity to support our channel partners.

Partner support
Obang-Oyway points out that in addition to these core strengths, Ingram Micro Cloud devotes much time and energy helping to build and develop partners’ businesses, if that is what they want, through on-site consultancy, sales and technical training and customer engagement.

“In the past few weeks alone, a lot of our guys have been out and about with partners visiting their end customers, helping them to win deals and helping them deploy solutions,” he said.

“Beyond that, we have regional events, covering both technology and sales and marketing, and we have our annual Cloud Summit, taking place on May 24, which provides more of a strategic overview of our industry – where things are going from a cloud market perspective, what the trends are and how Ingram Micro Cloud and the channel are responding to those trends.”

Obang-Oyway adds that this level of engagement is important because the channel is still evolving.

“Everyone talks about the channel as if it is static, as if it’s the same channel and the same type of people. It’s actually more embryonic than that: the channel we know from yesterday is not the channel we’re going to see tomorrow – the players will be very different and the types of services, solutions and organisations we are going to see in this channel will be very different,” he said.

As this trend gathers pace, Ingram Micro Cloud plans to continue to enhance its platform, expand its services portfolio and identify new cloud opportunities, helping existing and new reseller partners to develop new, long-term sources of revenue.

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