Guest Column | December 12, 2019

Consider How IT Distributors Can Support Your Field Success In 2020 And Beyond

By Frank Vitagliano, Global Technology Distribution Council

Field Service Success

When you think of IT distributors, I wouldn’t be surprised if the label conjures up images of supply chain management and logistics, pick-pack-and-ship inventory management leviathans. I know, because I’ve been there.

In my years working in channel-centric capacities at some of the world’s largest technology companies, I gained deep appreciation for the broader and more dynamic value distributors deliver. Among other realities, I quickly found: No two distributors are created alike.

That’s more evident today than ever. When I came aboard as CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC) in April of 2019, I immediately asked a slew of questions – to vendor partners, service providers and, of course, GTDC members, the world’s most successful distributors of IT products and value-added services.

The quest went quite a bit deeper, however, as we commissioned an independent study on the “end-to-end” views of distributors from the perspectives of venture capitalists, OEMs, emerging tech vendors, ISVs, MSPs, systems integrators and other types of business models through to end users. This study, Tech Distribution 2025, just released in November, gives unique insight relevant to services optimization in the field.

Inside Tech Distribution 2025
Tech Distribution 2025 distills surveys and in-depth interviews with more than 50 top industry executives across the various industry segments covered. Most study participants – nearly 69 percent – possessed over a decade of experience working with IT distributors. Those new to distribution also represented a sizable 10 percent of the respondents, and approximately 21 percent indicated between five and 10 years of distribution-related experience.

Findings are based on the study respondents’ projections for their distribution partnerships through the year 2025. Highlights include:

  • More than half (61 percent) of study participants anticipate greater than 10 percent growth annually through distributors
  • Virtual warehouse support for SaaS and cloud solutions will evolve as a primary distributor core competency and demand driver
  • Integration, logistics, inventory management and asset life cycle services will remain crucial
  • Partner enablement, credit/financial services and recruitment will be of top overall importance

The study confirms that many long-term distributor core services are still extremely relevant in the digital era – and more relevant than ever in field service capacities. Multi-vendor solutions naturally remain essential.

As the study conveys, distributors are a reliable hub for both products and services that complement your core competencies. They’re not competitors out to replace you. Distributors want your business partnership – and seek to contribute to your success, not just their own. Their channel-friendly credit programs attest to this conviction.

Focused On Elevating Your Brand: 1, 2, 3
Distributors vet the world of technology offerings in a manner that fits their portfolios now and where they seek to expand on behalf of their targeted channel partners. Continuously explore and leverage their respective specializations in relations to yours. Instead of striving to bolster any single brand’s image in the minds of your customers, they’re more interested in elevating your solution-provider brand.

If you have doubts about distribution’s value in field-service scenarios, I can attest to how the engagement can pay off in remarkably substantive ways. Here are three factors supporting this conclusion:

  1. No field services organization or team can always “do it all” independently.
  2. Distributors offer proven services, certified technicians and other specialists to complement your field capabilities, including in geographic areas you don’t reach.
  3. If you’re concerned about “partners” with motivation to potentially undercut or overtake your “trusted advisor” status, distributors don’t pose such a threat.

Until we commissioned the 2025 report to get a comprehensive look at IT distribution – from where it’s been to where we expect it to be in the years ahead – the GTDC had not yet explored in aggregate each of the industry dimensions depending on distributors.

Among other findings, we learned that the level of engagement and planning with distributors goes considerably deeper than in past years. The study points to this trend accelerating exponentially over the next five years.

This is where field service connections to IT distributors loom large.

Field Partnership Dimensions In Distribution
The possibilities are almost limitless, considering the scope and spectrum of services IT distributors offer today. The new 2025 report underscores this reality where anyone depending on supply chains for success can find opportunities with distributors that are deeper than what may have met the eye in past years or decades.

If you’ve not yet delved into the advantages distributors now represent, make it a 2020 resolution.

Trust is imperative no matter where you turn in the digital economy. If you solely depend on distributors for fast access to a full selection of products and solutions, take a new look. The partnership prospects go well beyond the relatively narrow view of distributors as mere masters of product availability and on-time delivery with the financial services to make purchases possible.

These important dimensions of distribution’s value aren’t going away. They’re going to be augmented as building blocks for the future.

Check out the 2025 Tech Distribution report to get a glimpse of distribution’s evolution and outlook as it relates to your field service delivery priorities. It’ll be worth your time – and bottom line – to learn more!

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.