Guest Column | June 15, 2020

Importance Of Supply Chains No Longer Taken For Granted

By Frank Vitagliano – CEO, Global Technology Distribution Council

Supply Chain

Most people seldom think about supply chains – unless they’re a part of them, such as in the IT industry where distributors, vendors and solutions providers all participate and contribute unique value. However, in recent months the awareness of and dependencies on supply chains has been a central focus worldwide.

The media spotlight illuminated acute shortfalls in the availability of protective gear and other essentials for the medical field as well as equipment, such as ventilators, needed to save lives. Problems surfaced from all perspectives, including from a supply standpoint woefully short of exponential demand. Simply getting what was required became far from simple. Every dimension of the equation became heavily dependent on creativity and ingenuity.

It wasn’t a time to claim victory or assail ostensible culprits. The world just couldn’t quickly cope with the sudden pressures and limited stockpiles to keep pace. Recovery came yet in a troublingly slow manner that should serve as a profound juncture in learning, adapting, and becoming better – regardless of what circumstances occurred or could surface in the future.

Core Competencies In The Emerging Norm
Deeper strategic thinking and self-reflection are among the assets in this new emerging norm. Regarding supply chain dynamics, it’s a time to put more focus on respective core competencies while leveraging partners in altogether new ways. Product supply and delivery are always going to be instrumental. At the same time, value-added services will redefine the roles of all supply chain participants going forward.

Related transformations are well in progress and likely to accelerate – not diminish – in these unprecedented circumstances. Distributors and vendor partners are working together like never before by introducing and enhancing multiple programs as well as services specifically for the new reality. Examples include:

  • Partnering to refurbish and ship unused out-of-warranty ventilators to medical facilities facing acute shortages of these critical devices.
  • Making easy-to-deploy wireless solutions available to support the installation and operation of effective communications in hospitals and other medical facilities as well as temporary treatment and testing locations.
  • Waiving financial services fees and offering special payment terms to community members while extending hundreds of millions of dollars in additional credit to channel partners looking to kickstart their businesses.
  • Hosting online seminars and panels on timely topics such as "Maintaining Viable Partnerships During the COVID-19 Pandemic” and “Don’t Waste Your Time; Go to the Cloud,” delving into what SMB partners can do to revive and drive business.
  • Offering solution providers and their end customers complimentary guidance related to expanding challenges such as staying cyber-secure while working from home.
  • Introducing online coaching and collaboration platforms to help reseller partners grow their networks, develop competencies and best practices relative to emerging needs.

Thriving In The New Reality?
Looking ahead, we can all expect myriad new challenges and opportunities. To help shed light on what that means through the lens of distribution, the GTDC is wrapping up a detailed report on what these companies, their vendor partners, and industry analysts all say it will take to ultimately thrive in the new normal. Visit the GTDC Research Center to download a copy and check out other reports currently available.

Preliminary findings relate to areas of keen industrywide interest, such as how cloud computing is accelerating through distribution and the ways SMBs will continue to look to digital innovations to keep their doors open. Line-of-business buyers and tech professionals are realigning to make sure their workers, data, and assets are available, protected, and backed up beyond previous expectations. The channel needs to collectively rise in response to this advancing demand, regardless of how economic conditions unfold.

Distributors are inextricably connected to tech innovation, where multivendor solutions “rule the day.” Complexity is inherent. Integrating the components and activating value won’t exclusively come down on solution-provider shoulders in this new norm. Distributors and vendors must do more on their behalf, from the support they offer before, during, and after the sale to the financing that makes it all possible as well as the services for on-time implementation and ongoing success.

The XaaS era is alive and well, and the entire channel will bring the value forward through tighter partnerships and a sharper focus on customer experience and on-target outcomes.

New efficiencies will emerge. Doing business the same way never cuts it forever. Now there’s new impetus to change. You may think the trigger is being pulled prematurely, just because of a particular slice in time – in history, actually – when the rewards of change are likely to be more meaningful than at any other juncture in our industry’s evolution.

Digitally Armed And Ready
The fact that we already live in a digital economy and culture factors in the channel’s favor. All participants ultimately brought it to life worldwide and can now aspire to a new stratosphere of value on this foundation.

Streamlined collaboration, communication, and control will be instrumental and heavily dependent on the types of tools and capabilities we collectively deploy and optimize. Distribution competencies take on new meaning now, whether in terms of physical equipment and infrastructure or virtualization, analytics, security, cloud, and mobile computing, for example.

The entire channel will play a pivotal role as cities and countries “reopen” across the world.

Comprehensive solutions will always remain crucial, with distributors continuously vetting, delivering, and supporting the products as well as services needed everywhere the channel goes.

These are incredibly tough times to say the least, but there’s plenty to say about how distributors, vendors, and solutions providers will help lead the global recovery. Sources of inspiration are everywhere, and the channel’s 50-year history represents a wealth of talent, experience, and creativity for the months and years ahead.

About 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 industry-wide 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.