TechSelect Day 2: Tech Data talks up mobility, cloud, data center

Tech Data's president of the Americas, Murray Wright, sketched out how the company is evolving, with attention on mobility and cloud enablement.

TORONTO -- Addressing an audience of about 180 attendees at Day 2 of its 2013 TechSelect Spring Partner event here on Friday, Murray Wright, Tech Data Corp.'s president of the Americas, spelled out how the distributor is positioned to help the TechSelect community stay on its feet with the changing dynamics of the industry.

Wright described the distribution business as "low-margin, high-velocity." He said Tech Data is committed to focusing on its core objectives -- execution, innovation and diversification -- every day, regardless of the conditions in the marketplace.

Wright discussed how Tech Data is making investments that align with some of Gartner's "Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends" for 2013. In the area of mobility, for example, Wright talked about Tech Data currently doing $2 billion in business in Europe and $4 billion overall in mobility, as well as its joint business venture with Brightstar Corp., TD Mobility in the U.S., which now has 500 authorized TDMobility resellers. He also shared that on March 1, TDMobility became the first distributor to offer 4G activation through Verizon Communications Inc.'s Partner Program, and reminded the audience of the recent launch of TDMobility University for access to training, videos and resources for partners to develop a mobility practice.

With Tech Data's mobility business ramping up, Wright told attendees, "Buckle up because you're going to see more investments [and] more action in mobility from Tech Data."

That was good news to Reggie Wass, vice president, senior network engineer and owner of PenBay Computer Systems Inc. of Hampden, Maine. “My take-away from this conference is to learn more about mobility/telephony,” he said. While Wass considered expanding his business with telephone products on a few occasions, one thing or another caused him to put it off but not anymore. “We already own the customer's network. We’re late to the game but will probably do it now,” he added.

Wass, a loyal TechSelect member for all 14 years that the organization has been in existence, said that TechSelect has helped his company survive. “The trainings, the introduction to new technologies and meeting other people has helped us to grow,” he said.

Wright also pointed to the company's cloud business focus (not a brand new focus) and the growth of that segment -- up 55% year over year in 2012 -- and urged TechSelect members to leverage the company's services and tools, such as StreamOne, to help grow their cloud business. Tech Data launched the StreamOne platform in February 2012 and today it has three components: Software License Selector, Activation and Software Solutions Store.

Wright also discussed the company's data center business focus, which he described as "huge and growing" with growth in unstructured data, big data and the increased demand for servers. Data center business for the TechSelect community was up 10% last year, he noted.

He also pointed out that the company's internal initiatives are as important as its external ones to the success of its channel relationships, and noted the Tech Data CX1 program, which measures customer satisfaction. "We make personnel changes [and] strategy changes based on feedback from partners and set visible SLAs [service-level agreements] throughout the company based on metrics," he said.

The company is also keeping its team up to date with training and education, including e-learning. "We just launched an on-campus MBA program for our sales organization. With all the change that's happening [in the industry] we've got to keep our skills up," Wright said.

Publicly traded, Tech Data ranked 109 on the Fortune 500 list in 2012, with $26.5 billion in worldwide revenue and 9,000 employees.

TechSelect vendor partner Cisco Systems Inc. shared the morning general session. Mike Perez, manager for partner operations at Cisco, said that since the TechSelect Fall Partner Event last fall, Cisco has seen a 20% increase in its TechSelect business, accounting for $230 million in revenue.

Talking to attendees about growing their business with Cisco, Perez attributed a large part of the revenue growth to Cisco Charge, a sub-community of about 20 TechSelect partners that was launched at last year's TechSelect Fall Partner event. Perez said Cisco works with this community to build account plans and makes investments in marketing and enablement. Cisco has invested more than $138,000 in this group alone and has seen a 30% increase in revenue in the past six months, he said.

Cisco Charge is the first TechSelect sub-community, but not the last. HP is likely to become the next sub-community vendor partner, with additional ones being planned, according to Pete Peterson, senior vice president of U.S. sales at Tech Data.

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