‘We have brought about some changes in the way large channel partners transact business’

A mechanical engineer from Madras University, N Y Prasad’s 17-year career began in 1983 with Voltas Limited. After stints in various MNCs, he joined Ingram Micro in 1997, at its regional headquarters in Singapore. With the takeover of Electronic Resources Limited by Ingram Micro, he was relocated to India as the Senior VP of Ingram Micro India Limited in 1999. Later, he headed its Indian operations as the Chief Operating Officer of the company. Today, Prasad leads a team of highly skilled IT professionals, with a vision to make Ingram Micro the leading technology provider in India. He tells CI just how he proposes to do this.

How was Ingram Micro’s first year after the takeover of Electrical Resources India Ltd?

This year was more or less the year of consolidation for Ingram Micro, as we came to India as in 1999. Year 2000 has been the first year of our operations under the name of Ingram Micro. During this year, we spread out geographically. We tried to reach as many channels by taking the product, which is an objective that our vendors also want us to fulfill. This is also the year when we also introduced IMPULSE, our worldwide ERP, which we have integrated with the existing Indian system. So the entire year has been more of getting our fundamentals right in the country. We have brought our processes and our business practices here. We have brought about some changes in the way large channel partners transact business.

What are your plans for 2001?

In 2001, we will try to consolidate further on whatever we’ve done this year. We’ll be having few more vendor lines coming in, some of them strategic in nature, flowing in from our global relationship. We feel these are required in the country considering the way the Indian market is unfolding. We would definitely be bringing value-added propositions for our resellers. So 2001 will definitely be a year of growth for us in terms of product offering, revenue and geographical spread. Currently we have over 2000 resellers. We would increase their number next year.

How many new channel partners are you seeking this year?

I think we should be able to address 2,500 resellers. That should be about 20 percent growth in our existing channel base.

What are the measures that been taken to fuel this growth?

Our enlarged product profile will bring in new channel partners. We are also expanding geographically.

As you increase your channel base, what is the message that you are sending to your partners?

Our message to the channels is that they are an integral part of Ingram Micro worldwide. As a company, we do not sell to the end-users. We always sell to our reselling partners globally. That is one of our strengths. Our foremost corporate philosophy is that we do not engage end-users. So the channel is a very important part of our overall growth. Let me emphasize that the channel is an integral part as far as IT distribution is concerned, regardless of the advent of e-commerce. E-biz can only enhance and improve the quality of business transactions. But I don’t think that there can be a replacement for the channel.
We are strongly investing in our channel partners.

What kind of channel programs has Ingram devised for its channel partners?

We came with the IM program which will formally launched in South Africa. Reseller partners have been selected and we signed up around 100-odd partners. We are now trying to induct them into our various corporate programs and activities. We will look at introducing more such programs for our partners.

What were the major milestones that contributed to your revenue last year?

Last year we clocked over Rs 480 crore. One major milestone, which contributed to this, was our geographical expansion. We moved into newer territories during the last year. We brought in new product lines; which is another milestone. For the first time, we brought in systems into our operations as well as the software business. A networking business line too was created.

What would you consider as Ingram Micro’s strengths?

Firstly, we are able to leverage our global strengths in terms of product offering and vendor mind share. We managed to make a few vendors to look at India very seriously. Several Silicon Valley players are looking at India with a lot of interest. We are probably the only global distributor. Vendors are comfortable with this and it translates into more offerings to the channel. Channels today feel that they are being rewarded for the strong business practices that we brought in. We managed to show them that there would be no duplication in our inventory management. We are trying to tell them that they can move to a model of virtual inventory. It may take some time, but today atleast some of them have started realizing that and have started integrating themselves into that.

This year we have our presence online, which will be a very big initiative for channel partners. We will bring down the cost of supply chain management substantially with our Web initiative. So not just the channel partner, but even the end-user will be benefited by this move.

What exactly is IMPULSE and how does it affect channel partners?

IMPULSE is a virtual inventory management system and probably the most powerful distribution ERP worldwide. It handles over 70 millions transactions everyday. Close to 250,000 resellers are already using it in over 40 countries. At this point of time, channel partners do not have access to IMPULSE. They have to interface through our branches. We will soon allow some of our select resellers in India to access IMPULSE.

What are the technological inputs that have helped you in your business?

On the technological side, I think we give a very strong post-sales support in terms of warranty and logistics. We will be taking this forward as and when a larger product portfolio comes in. At this time, the channel will need a lot of handholding, a responsibility that we will not shirk.

What were some of the schemes that helped you to achieve your turnover last

Last year, our schemes were all vendor-driven ones. Whatever the vendors offered, we forwarded those to the channel. We did not have an Ingram specific scheme. This year we will be rolling out Ingram specific initiatives.

Sylvester Lobo

In Chennai

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