Inside Ingram Micro’s cloud strategy in Asia Pacific

Inside Ingram Micro’s cloud strategy in Asia Pacific

Lee Welch targets ecosystem expansion across the region

Lee Welch​ (Ingram Micro)

Lee Welch​ (Ingram Micro)

Credit: Ingram Micro

The cloud division of Ingram Micro is gearing up for a year of growth in Asia Pacific following the appointment of Lee Welch as regional leader.

As reported by sister publication ARN, Welch assumes the newly created role of executive director of cloud services across Asia Pacific, with plans in place to relocate to Singapore from Australia once lockdown measures ease.

New responsibilities include managing cloud divisions in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines, reporting to Nimesh Dave as executive vice president of global cloud computing at Ingram Micro.

The creation of a regional leadership role focused on cloud and based in Singapore represents a statement of intent from a distributor built on the foundations of a traditional channel. The pivot to new revenue streams, ecosystems and priorities has been well documented, but in Asia Pacific, the promotion of Welch suggests such plans are resonating.

This is a business which recently cracked one million seats in the region on the Ingram Micro Cloud marketplace, backed by an army of traditional vendors seeking differentiation via the cloud.

“Our ultimate role in Asia Pacific is to accelerate the businesses of our vendors and partners,” said Welch, who assumed regional responsibilities effective mid-April. “My immediate priority is to understand each country in terms of what specific value add we offer to the channel.

“We have great teams across the region, I already knew that before taking on the role. But now we have to identify the gaps in our portfolio and the technologies we are missing in order to help our partners take solutions to market.

“For our existing vendors, we’re focused on enabling more partners while helping our current ecosystem to expand further. In that respect, it’s a two-pronged approach. This is alongside finding new vendors that we can on-board to our marketplace platform. Some are new, some are traditional and some are direct, we have different strategies for each.”

Speaking to Channel Asia via video link, Welch said the role is newly created and in response to accelerated cloud growth across the region, with Australia alone increasing revenue by 54 per cent during the last financial year.

“Last year, we reported a huge amount of growth,” he explained. “More vendors want Ingram Micro Cloud to take them to market and Asia Pacific represents a growing region, which requires a focus on managing each individual country at a regional level.”

The cloud business is divided into four geographic territories across the region, spanning Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia (including Hong Kong) and India. As explained by Welch, and in the context of cloud, each houses a profit and loss (P&L) record, backed by an in-country marketplace and local teams and leaders aligned to a global strategy.

“Having come from the traditional side of the channel, it’s interesting to watch the cloud business evolve,” Welch added. “We’re experiencing high double-digit growth figures which is huge compared to the rest of the channel. These are impressive figures in that context.

“But when you dive into the detail you can understand why. We have vendors moving a huge body of traditional businesses to the cloud, with Microsoft in particular doing a very good job of shifting priorities. We continue to work with vendors in that respect, plus we also have new ISVs [independent software vendors] that are emerging in the market and have always operated in the cloud.”

From a revenue perspective, and as a success marker for the ecosystem, Welch cited the business benefits of adopting a monthly recurring revenue model, insisting that cloud numbers continue to “grow and grow” at the distributor.

“The model helps accelerate our vendors and partners because we’re always building momentum, month by month,” he said. “Then you reach the second year and the business you built up is already there. The model supports our growth and that of the market, which is backed by innovative solutions being developed by ISVs.”

In assessing the cloud ecosystem across Asia Pacific, Welch said Ingram Micro collaborates with a variety of partners, spanning all ends of the channel spectrum.

“We have the traditional Ingram Micro partner which wants to grow cloud revenue streams,” he outlined. “We help them create a cloud practice and advise on the vendors available through our marketplace.

“We also work with partners that are very vendor aligned, with Microsoft being a good case in point. For example, a Microsoft partner might have been transacting traditional licensing for many years, 20 years in some cases, and they require guidance in building out cloud revenues.

“Also, we have born-in-the-cloud partners that don’t carry any kind of traditional baggage and require help in creating end-user demand generation.”

For Welch, the key priority is helping partners identity a unique value proposition in a crowded Asia Pacific market, with Ingram Micro providing value-added services through digital marketing and pipeline development.

“We want to help partners find new customers,” he said. “We offer a strong value proposition for ISVs because we can inexpensively and quickly integrate solutions into our cloud marketplace in a specific country to test the go-to-market strategy.

"Then if that works, we can expand into other countries inexpensively, aside from currency and pricing differences from country to country. We offer a unique value proposition in that respect.”

In addition, Welch said Ingram Micro also encourages partners to develop individual intellectual property [IP]. A recent example was the global Comet Competition, launched during Microsoft Inspire with the aim of finding business-to-business software innovators whose products have “clear applications and potential implementations in the channel”.

“We have a huge body of ISVs plus lots of resellers that have built their own ISV solutions which they want to take to market,” Welch added. “That’s another key avenue for partners to explore when developing cloud revenue.”

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