Tech dating: Tech Data’s Ecosystem Engagement Program
As technology has become increasingly commoditized in recent years, so has the pressure on margins. The traditional route to market of vendor to distributor to reseller to client, has resulted in the erosion of margins for each party. That means less funding for reinvestment, which also means that the challenges faced by each part in creating new value are compounded.
Another factor in this increasing commoditization is that end customers often find themselves sourcing technology and solutions from multiple vendors; a costly and often complex proposition. Add to that, the fact is that smaller players and start-ups don’t have the presence or reach of larger providers and are often overlooked.
With a USD 37 billion business, with over 40 years in technology distribution, Tech Data UK has around 7500 partners in its ecosystem. We recognized that if we could address these interconnected challenges, we could help our partners maximize their combined impact through collaboration and, at the same time, help them to create a more profitable way of going to market.
We have been running our Ecosystem Program now for just over a year. The premise is simple—ecosystems are about relationships. We have created a rolling program of events where partners can get together and explore ideas and opportunities themed around a specific topic or industry. Our initial focus was healthcare, but we have since expanded into manufacturing, retail and the particular challenges of returning to work under COVID-19. More recently, recognizing the broad range of skills and technology required to deliver hybrid cloud solutions, we have expanded our ecosystem to include Red Hat, too.
We encourage partners to collaborate and create solutions that combine best of breed offerings from specialists and innovators from across the ecosystem. Anchor partners like CSI, SCC, OCF, Bell and Meridian adopt a leading role, offering potential customers the security of a trusted provider with a proven track record. But within the offering-based ecosystems those anchor partners form, we help ensure that customers get the best technology, regardless of the scale or profile of the individual provider. It also works as a seek and find service for larger partners to find offerings within the ecosystem they need.
We like to think of it as a dating service for our partners—we make the introductions and work with them to identify common ground and opportunity. And while Tech Data itself has no stake in the solutions they create, by licensing IBM technologies as part of the Embedded Solutions initiative, we are able to create a recurring revenue stream for the supply chain. The end result is a ready-made, trusted solution for the customer and reduced pressure on margins for every player in the value chain.
And it’s working—companies new to IBM, like Dacha-UK, have partnered with established anchor partner CSI and have been able to get the technology and support they need to take their offering to markets. They’ve not have been able to make that reach before now.
We have had over 400 delegates participate at our events this year with over 50 different presenters including partners, customers, IBMers and industry leaders. The program has taken on a tremendous momentum and really thrived during the move to digital engagement.