Ingram Micro’s new AI-powered, self-learning “Digital Twin” - Xvantage delivers a frictionless digital experience never before seen in technology distribution and accelerates the time to value for everyone. Xvantage is touted to solve the complexities across the industry by providing a smarter, faster, better and more collaborative and profitable way for all to work and grow together. Ingram Micro’s cloud marketplace is also integrated into Xvantage, allowing cloud solutions to be easily incorporated into solutions containing technology hardware, software and professional services.
Sanjib Sahoo, EVP and Global Chief Digital Officer - Ingram Micro in a chat with VARINDIA explains how the new platform will benefit partners, OEMs and end customers.
How has Ingram Micro grown with digital transformation?
What we have done a year and a half ago is to embark on the journey of Xvantage, in which we focus more on digital operations. Digital Transformation does not have a stop sign. We are always transforming. So at Ingram Micro, we have embraced these digital operations, where we focus on the art of possible. The company has come together to build the platform ecosystem and create a digital twin of Ingram Micro. This is our new AI powered ecosystem that will create a new experience for our partners, vendors and employees.
To start off that journey, we assimilated a lot of talent, both from inside the company and from outside, from companies like Amazon, Google, and built a world-class team. Xvantage is a journey which we are launching across different geographies and countries, while also launching it in India. It is an ongoing journey in which we focus on value creation and better experience. It is the next-level way to transform customers’ business potential and reshape how customers see you. Ideated in Q2 2021, the Xvantage digital experience platform is powered by a global real time data mesh containing many years of operating and transactions data, as well as by several proprietary engines which are enhanced by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As Ingram Micro is the leader in Distribution across the globe, how are you empowering and bridging the gap between OEM and Partners?
The journey between OEMs and partners today is not very frictionless. When OEMs create their own products, they also need information at the back-end. Partners can engage with distributors, who in turn can build a seamless connection in terms of what they are seeing across the OEMs, their product roadmap and what the customers and partners are aiming for. This means – taking all these products, bundling them as solutions to the customers, understanding the demand for these products and what the market is like, creating categorizations of solutions and moving towards a more balanced equilibrium where one can build a seamless connection between OEMs and partners.
So through this Xvantage ecosystem, our goal is to create a platform which will add more value to both our partners and OEMs. By taking complexities out of the process, we can give the insights and data to our partners to run their business better and take back those insights back to the OEMs for them to act upon. We touch 90% of the population and we understand what product and technology is working and what is not. If we take that information and bundle and build our solutions, then we are giving opportunities to both OEMs and partners to come and participate in this ecosystem. That is the value of exchange we want to create through this digital platform ecosystem.
With an increase in migration to cloud technology and increased automation, how is Ingram Micro bridging the demand supply gap?
Moving applications to the cloud is not just digitization, but it does bring value. Also, digitization is not just automation, which may have been the case a few years back. Today digitization is experienced first and then automation follows. Automation is just a by-product. But what we are creating here is a consumer-like experience through distribution across all vendors and partners. This is how we aim to move forward. The more we are able to bring out visibility, the more we can understand the demand and supply better.
With most businesses now cutting on major expenses, do you think their spend on technology will also come down relatively?
These companies will be directing their spending more on governance and planning and the focus will be more on value. So it will be not just about the spend but also how they spend. Some organizations will focus on the quality of their spending, or how it is driving value, while some organizations might not be able to do that. It depends on organizations to organizations. So before investing in any technology, an organization will see how it is driving its ROI and the business outcomes that it seeks rather than spending on it just for the sake. Prioritization will help improve much more while making that decision.
As a customer first organization, how do you try to address their digital needs and priority?
We start with experience first. We do a lot of design thinking, and understand customer journey maps. We also take lots of feedback from the customer. For instance, before launching this platform, we had a very fast feedback loop cycle. We listen to them, understand what is working and what is not working. In fact we have a team that incorporates those feedbacks very fast because we believe in customer-driven product development, which means that we bring in the voice of the customer to the products that we build. So we match the art of possible with the technology that we have and the art of feasible with the voice of the customer and business which help us in building products. That is our approach.
What possible roadblocks do you see when organizations try to scale up their Digital Transformation strategies?
In terms of roadblocks, the first factor is the mindset. We always focus on the Art of Impossible vs the Art of Possible, because change is very hard. Most digital transformation projects fail because of this mindset. We are biased towards what has worked for a long time; that is the human mind. The ability to think differently every time becomes very important. The second factor I would say – Innovation First and then Adoption Second – this concept does not work. That is a common mistake companies make. We have to have a continuous way of value creation and value capture. So technology and product can create value as technologies mature and the operational spirit has to capture that value in a continuous way. Digital Transformation is not just about adopting technologies.
While human and AI interaction is believed to be the future, how should organizations prepare themself for the big AI revolution within the large scope of DT?
For me, AI is the Agile Revolution and not Artificial Intelligence. I say that because if machines can learn, then employees can learn too. What you will see in the future is a hybrid approach, where machines and humans will come together, learn from each other and move towards a more repetitive versus a more cognitive method. Repetitive tasks will move towards a more machine-driven approach and humans will drive towards more decision making and strategic roles where it will be a win-win situation for businesses. So it is not that machines will take away all the jobs. The jobs will be different but people will be the same. Machines will change the way you approach the job to be much more meaningful. And since a machine cannot learn on their own, humans will have to work with machines to make them more intelligent. That is what the future will be like.
Message to the VARs
I would say don’t sell technology but sell solutions. Start talking to your customers – what are the problems you want to solve, and how can you partner with them. Digital Transformation addresses two gaps of the company – Opportunity Gap or the Performance Gap. Either they need a lot of technology to fix the performance gap or they need to stay ahead of the curve to invest in technology for the opportunity gap. Let’s start the discussion there. By doing this you can become a true partner rather than a procurement or a technology provider. That is where I think change will happen. Digital Transformation will be an ongoing process; you will have to live with it as technology matures and continue to create solutions to constantly stay ahead in order to get a better customer experience and drive true business value.
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