Ingram Micro CEO on how to value your digital form

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CJ Fairfield

“My call to action for the channel is to start understanding your end customer experience,” he says. “Find out what problems they want to solve, find out how they can be better digitally fit. Every organization today is trying to stay relevant and maintain a digital form. We need to be partners in helping them solve this problem.

Without digital fit, there’s a good chance a company will fail, according to Sanjib Sahu, executive vice president and chief digital officer for Irvine, Calif.-based distributor Ingram Micro.

Sahoo spoke with partners at The Channel Company’s Best of Breed (BoB) conference in Atlanta this week about changing mindsets and becoming a digitally fit company.

“There are many factors that drive fitness, it’s your health, your heart … everything,” he said. “Digital fit is also about the same thing, the longevity of companies staying relevant. We have to really appreciate that this is going on and that it’s a change in mindset.

[RelatedIngram Micro’s Marketing Message To Partners: Embrace Your Brand]

To survive, Sahoo said companies need to stop talking about digital transformation and find out if they are digitally fit, what level they are at, and create a digital fitness regime. He added that companies should also check their digital BMI (body mass index).

“More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies will disappear from the list in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

There are seven factors that influence a company’s digital BMI: legacy and core systems, data, customer experience, product mindset, balanced portfolio, innovation, operations and integration, and speed to market.

Partners must have agile and flexible legacy and core systems, they must create a data foundation across all systems, figure out how to engage a better customer where experience matters, have a product mindset to create better user experience and innovate, operate and integrate all at the same time.

There are four steps to creating a digital fitness regimen, he said. The first is creating the spirit and DNA of an organization – it’s a lifestyle change.

The second step is planning. Transformation cannot happen in isolation. Partners must make the digital journey part of their operations. Third is the creation of architecture. Partners need to figure out how to

separation of the legacy layer, the data layer and the experience layer.

“Start modernizing the legacy at the same time, collecting data at the same time and building your engines and architects in such a way that everything is decoupled and you can really move fast,” he said.

The last part is building management. Create a governance structure where it is understood what creates value.

If a company undertakes a digital transformation, more than 80 percent of those efforts fail, according to Sahoo. Companies need to focus on being digitally fit.

“A lot of times we try to transform or innovate in isolation,” he said. “First we build technology and then we try to adopt it. This no longer works. The reason for this is that it continues.”

He said companies build technology and then try to adopt it, but in the meantime the technology is already changing.

“You have to do it together,” he said. “You have to start learning, operating and transforming together.”

But digitization is not automation, it’s all about experience.

“Every organization is thinking about how to make a better experience for customers, for employees, for suppliers,” he said. “Once you focus on the experience, automation follows.”

One way to think about it, he said, is “the Sunday, Monday experience.” If someone is watching a game on Sunday night, they use a food delivery service to order a pizza. They may order groceries the same way. On Monday, however, one asks what technologies and solutions one can buy.

“Why is the Sunday and Monday experience so different?” he said. “We need to focus on blending, that’s digitization. People think, “Let’s automate. To modernize our infrastructure. This is digitization. They are absolutely wrong. It completely creates this blended experience and creates consumerism.”

It is also about digital work and value creation.

“Companies that failed to address the lack of capability fell behind,” he said, adding that it’s all about the people, not the technology.

“We need to start selling experience,” he said. “Start understanding the experience, then the technology follows.”

Partners also need to be key valuers for clients, he said. Don’t just focus on the product, focus on the experience and the value.

However, it comes down to a mindset change.

“My call to action for the channel is to start understanding your end customer experience,” he said. “Find out what problems they want to solve, find out how they can be better digitally fit. Every organization today is trying to stay relevant and maintain a digital form. We need to be partners in helping them solve this problem.

Phil Walker, CEO of Manhattan Beach, California-based network solutions provider MSP, believes that being digitally fit just makes sense.

“I think that’s something that everybody knows, but I think that, in his opinion, everybody has focused on the technology and not on the employee culture,” Walker told CRN.

For his own company, he wants to change the conversation with customers around people.

“It still gives them emerging technology, but it really focuses on the business impact the technology will have on their business,” he said.


    Learn about CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and resellers. Before joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at [email protected]


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