Almost one year after setting up their Unified Communications division we talk to distributor Ingram Micro about progress to date and what they can offer to resellers looking to exploit the growing UC market.
Known until recently more as a broadline distributor than a specialist Ingram Micro has established a wide portfolio of unified communications products and applications for their channel partners built around three core platforms, ShoreTel, Microsoft and Cisco.
Annette Reynolds, Business Development Manager for the Unified Communications division at Ingram Micro, herself no stranger to distribution having spent time at Crane/Westcon, says that Ingram Micro understands their resellers’ skill levels and areas of expertise and is therefore ideally placed to help them develop the additional skills to successfully enter the UC market.
“With three distinct UC platform propositions from Ingram Micro we need to explain to resellers where the key differences in features, functions and deployments are so that we can determine the best solution for each of their customers. This goes right to the core of our proposition – providing a one stop shop for our resellers and helping them in every aspect of the supply cycle from, say taking a voice based solution and adding a wireless infrastructure and iPad endpoints for that application.”
To illustrate that point further Reynolds gives two examples how the Ingram Micro portfolio comes together for reseller UC applications.
“Looking at the Microsoft UC platform, products from Sangoma provide cost effective gateways for smaller SMB applications and we can complement the solution with HP handsets that have a unique Lync code built in to provide features such as presence as well as Jabra headsets that are optimised for Lync. We make it easy for the reseller to take their UC solutions from concept to reality.
Likewise with our ShoreTel UC platform we can use their Mobility application for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices for FMC solutions.”
The Ingram Micro relationship with ShoreTel was originally born in the US where together the two firms continue to achieve considerable success.
Jon Bunyard, Advanced Solutions Director UK at Ingram Micro, says that ShoreTel is a vital building block for UC applications.
“Firstly the product does exactly what it says it can and it is fully scalable from SMB to Enterprise sized applications. We are gaining good signings with new resellers as they find the product refreshingly simple as well as enabling them to differentiate from the herd.
Across our entire three platforms for UC Ingram Micro offers end to end support for resellers with training and accreditation, pre and post-sales support as well as professional services. We can hand hold resellers through their first deals until they gain the skills and accreditation required for self-sufficiency.”
The Ingram Micro UC portfolio is not standing still; on the day we spoke the company was launching the Meraki range of wireless solution.
Bunyard, “Meraki was recently acquired by Cisco and has a leading edge but simple to manage range of wireless solutions. You can manage a whole estate of access points remotely via a web browser. Wireless infrastructure has become a key part of the UC jig-saw and with the trend to BYOD driving the market, it is a cost effective solution for access particularly in greenfield sites.”
Looking ahead, Annette Reynolds comments that Ingram Micro is experiencing a demand for UC solutions coming from many different areas.
“The convergence of the channels, voice, desktops, infrastructure and mobile resellers, is providing us with a diversity of growth opportunities across the board.
Education however is still the key to success. Many resellers ask of us, ‘what is UC? Is it a product, an application, a service?’ Education makes UC happen.”
Bunyard adds, “We are seeing traditional resellers of PCs and infrastructure coming to us and saying they want to know all about UC opportunities. These are SMB supplier resellers who are changing their role from one of providing products to one of being the consultative reseller providing solutions to pain points.
Christophe Mory is the European lead for Ingram Micro and is setting up ‘Experience Centres’ for resellers to use as UC demonstration and training resources for them and their customers. He is also managing vendor relationships and sourcing potential new products for the distributor’s UC portfolio
“We are working to on-board several new products and vendors and one of the key areas for us to develop is video conferencing. I’ve spent a lot of time explaining to vendors that we are now a specialist solutions distributor and can point to the investments we have made to achieve this status.”
Asked how Ingram Micro views what they have achieved over the last year with UC Jon Bunyard says, “We are pleased but not satisfied. We want to do more as UC represents a fantastic and huge opportunity for both ourselves and our partners. That opportunity needs exploiting and we aim to do just that with our resellers.”