B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 4 months ago

An Update on the Public Sector Business


There are new and exciting changes coming to the public sector business.

Logan Lyles speaks with Tony Celeste, Executive Director at Ingram Micro, to break it all down. They talk about:

- The impact of new ownership on public sector business

- 2021 trends in the public sector

- Fed buying season

- Greater scrutiny around supply chain security

For more information, contact Adam Springer (adam.springer@ingrammicro.com) or visit Ingram Micro’s Public Sector.

To join the discussion, follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

...you're listening to B to B tech talkwith ingram Micro the place to learn about new technology and technologicaladvances before they become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by ingramMicro's imagine next. It's not about the destination, it's about goingsomeplace you never thought possible. Go to imagine next dot ingram micro dotcom to find out more. Let's get into it. Welcome back to be to be Tech talk withingram Micro. I'm your host for today's episode Logan Lyles and our guest todayis Tony celeste, executive director and general manager for the public sectordivision here at ingram Micro. Tony I am very excited to be chatting with youtoday. Welcome to the show. Hey, thank you. I'm excited to be here with youtoo. We've got a returning guest in in you today, Tony and we're gonna betalking about some changes, some updates since the last time you were onthe show about a year back talking about the federal buying season lastsummer to kick things off today. Tony I wanted to ask you, it sounds like arecent acquisition is likely going to have a big impact on the public sectorpresence for ingram Micro. Can you tell us a little bit about that acquisitionto set the stage for some of the things going on in this sector of the businessright now. Sure. You know, I don't really know that that I'm going to beable to share that much about a platinum equities acquisition of theingram Micro than what's already been shared in our press releases. But whatbut what I can share is that we're thrilled with our new ownership andthat I've had the opportunity to meet directly with with them and brief themon our public sector business Now they clearly recognized the vital role thatingram micro plays in helping organizations innovate and adapt tochanging market conditions especially in today's environment where I. T.Priorities are continuing to shift. E commerce is thriving and the pace ofdigitization continues to accelerate. So they are prepared to put theirresources and experience to help you know, help ingram micro navigate thesefluid times. You know, I'll also share that for the past five years. We'veoperated under a special national Security agreement with approval fromthe Committee on Foreign Investment in the U. S. And we did so because offoreign ownership and that's no longer the case. Now ingram Micro is onceagain owned by a US firm and platinum equity, very interesting fluid times. Ithink that that is definitely the case needless to say Tony well what do youreally think Tony are going to be the top three ways that this acquisition isgoing to impact specifically the public sector part of the business for ingrammicro. You talked a little bit about, you know this partnership, some veryspecific ways that that is going to impact ingram micro in the business asa whole. But specifically as we dive into your specialty in the publicsector. What are some of the top ways that you think this shift is going toimpact that part of the business? Well, probably the number one is removal ofthe foreign ownership because it really addressed misperceptions that may havebeen in the marketplace that, oh boy, for certain markets, we can't dobusiness with ingram micro because they're foreign owned. And soregardless of perception is reality. And so that misperception was somethingwe were up against. So that's the number one. Number two, I would say, isthe ability to leverage platinum equities expertise and their resourcesin our business and being able to draw on that. They have a lot of partners intheir portfolio. They have prior experience dealing with a governmentcontractor on the Systems integration...

...side. So they're familiar with with thepublic sector market, they're also familiar with distribution and we'regoing to be able to leverage that and then additionally, increased focus andcommitment to the public sector market. Those would be the three things. Andthen I would say today the competition is gonna be have to need to be preparedfor a fair fight. They will no longer be able to use our former foreignownership to their advantage. So will now be competing on a level playingfield and we're going to continue to remain focused on differentiatingourselves in the marketplace and delighting our customers and partners.I love that. That quote of perception is reality. I can remember that injournalism school just kind of being hammered into my head and it it's truein business as much as it is in news media. That perception is reality,isn't it? It's so true, truly is. And it all depends sometimes on your pointof view, right? Where you're the perspective at which you're looking atthe situation. Yeah. So, you know, you mentioned that that removal of foreignownership is going to change the game. Kind of even the playing field becauseof that that perception in the past, being able to leverage platinumequities expertise in the public sector space and really being able To focustheir so if folks listening to this Tony are they're kind of gettingexcited about this new opportunity, new resources that you mentioned with thisrelationship with platinum equity. How about trends in the public sector thatpartners need to be thinking about as they look more broadly. Okay, we'vewe've got an even playing field, we've got some additional resources now as westep out into the field and we start to have more conversations with customersin the public sector. What are some of the trends that they need to be awareof going on right now in 2021? So they don't get blindsided and some of thoseconversations with customers and potential customers. Yeah. Well, firstI think when we look at the trends, we gotta talk about post pandemic and youknow, some might arguably. What are you saying Tony? Are we really postpandemic yet or not? We're going to get into a whole other perceptionconversation but we're going to get there. So so here's the thing what wesaw was a massive increase in client devices right? Is everybody scrambledto you know work and exist remotely and continue to communicate. It alsorevealed that we had antiquated I. T. Systems or you could think that isinfrastructure that it really wasn't as fully prepared for this massive shift.And then the shift for tele work. The accelerated shift for telework has alsonow resulted in a cultural shift. There were organizations that were veryresistant or reluctant to it for many reasons and that changed but that'salso created some new challenges. The more devices you have out there themore connected devices it's increased the attack surface area now and sothere's a greater need for cybersecurity and there's increasedconcerns in that area as well. It also created an increased demand for digitalcitizen services. So you couldn't just go to the government agency, youcouldn't walk into the M. V. A. Now and renew your driver's license. So thatbecame a new challenge and then you know these outdated I. T. Systemscoupled with the increased complexity of more devices. This is all added toit. Then you've got remote tele work...

...more use of cloud apps and thatrevealed bandwidth limitations. So we're continuing to see a lot from atrends perspective and this is driving the you know the demand for digitaltransformation more so drilling down Logan from a technology perspectivelook, mobility, virtualisation, data center security, big data, ai cloud andthen as a service they want to acquire technology in more of a utility modelor consumption model. So those things are all continuing to evolve anddevelop as major trends. You know whether you would say we're postpandemic or we're in pandemic wave to wherever we are right in relation towhen this pandemic started there are a lot of things that have changed andthen are in kind of their second iteration, you know some of the thingsthat you said there Tony I want to make sure people people catch especially inthe public sector, they're you know an increased number of devices but alsomixed with older devices. I like what you said about more surface area tocover. I think that that is a line that partners can use with their customersin the public sector to kind of paint the picture of their cybersecurityconcerns that should be top of mind that could lead to some really greatconversations and I think another one that partners could ask is that youtouched on digital citizen services, what areas are you trying to create abetter digital experience for your citizens? I'd imagine if they ask thosetwo questions they're probably going to get into some good conversations withtheir customers in the public sector in my right Tony Yeah, they will becausethey are now moving themselves up the higher level into the thought of theagency or the organization. They're linking the technology to the missionor the mission outcomes. And so when you think about citizen services or interms of the dependent upon the government agency, if it was improvinghealthcare outcomes for citizens or veterans, if it's protecting our firstresponders or warfighters or enabling our educators to teach remotely andstudents to learn and consume that way. These things make a big difference. Andso where you're going to see more of that if you can align that way. Yeah,absolutely. It's a very different conversation from when is your serviceagreement up on, you know, x software or your devices are aging and they needupgraded. That's a very technical conversation. But if you're askingthese sorts of questions about, you know, the enhanced surface area thatthey have to protect from a cyber security perspective citizen services,then you're aligning with the objectives and the mission of theorganizations that you're selling to and you just you're able to have ahigher level conversation as you put it. Well, Tony as we mentioned before, yourrepeat guest here on B two B tech talk and last time you were on we discussedhow to be successful during the quote unquote Fed buying season, right thatwe all know hits during summertime. Anything you'd want to reiterate tolisteners that we discussed last year. You know, things that you should alwaysbe doing this time of year as well as anything unique to this year during theFed buying season. So one of the things and I want to reiterate it, we kind ofjust touched on it in the last question, which is this whole idea of looking attechnology beyond what the capabilities of features, functions are in elevatingthe conversation to discuss how that is going to enable the mission. And thatis always going to be critical and...

...you're going to need to keep doing that.So, so that is something that we've got to really shift back to more. So now weget into this, you know, the crunch time of the Fed buying season, a lot ofthat work has already been done. And so now it's the follow up work followingup with contracts and the acquisition shops to see where these things areresponding accordingly, updating proposals, updating pricing and quotesand you just need to be all hands on deck and really respond. The last thingyou want to do is miss an opportunity that you worked on. So it's alsoimportant that you've established those relationships with the partners whohave the appropriate acquisition vehicles, have access to thisinformation that you're working tightly with those partners throughout this.And then you've got to be following the money because candidly, thegovernment's been printing it largely due to the pandemic, but also for anumber of other reasons and there's gonna be more and more fundingavailable and I think we're going to see a lot of surplus money of fundsthat have not been allocated and the government's going to scramble quicklyto spend those dollars because they never want to, you know, it's use it orlose it funds and so you need to be prepared with what those proposals areand be prepared to go in with them quickly when they call and they asked,hey, we've got this amount of money, we'd like to spend it on something, howdo we go do it? And then more importantly it is that concept I guessof following the money funding is going to be available for infrastructure,more funding for broadband, more for smart cities. You're going to see a lotmore. Great example was the emergency emergency connectivity fund. They putseven, a little bit over $7 billion American rescue plan. And this is for,you know, schools libraries to support remote learning and the funding isavailable through the Federal Communications Commission. And I'lltell you candidly this was one of the things that England, we don't, you know,lobby like you in the traditional sense of the word, but this is the 11 areawhere we did lobby the government directly and officials on, you know,funding the rate program and funding connectivity for the school systems.Yeah. That emergency connectivity fund. Is that something that agencies arestill tapping into to make purchases this year? Is that something that'skind of come and gone already in? Something else has kind of taken itsplace Tony Well the deadline for school systems to file for the credit is thisthis month? So they have a limited window for getting in. It essentiallygives them like $400 per if you want to call wireless and able type device. ButI bet money on it that if those funds aren't getting fully utilized, they'regonna extend the deadline to use those funds. But you shouldn't take myopinion on that. I go I go work it as aggressively as you could. Yeah, makessense. So emergency connectivity fund, you know, make sure that you'reprepared to have conversations with customers especially in the educationsector around that and Tony, I just want to reiterate what you're sayinghere that as you and I were talking off line and you mentioned the fax machinein your office. I shared with you that for about a decade I was in the officeequipment business selling copiers, printers, document management software,that sort of stuff. And when I sold two...

...entities in the public sector, a keypoint of leverage, I always tried to keep in mind where what you're talkingabout here, existing state and federal contracts, funding programs that couldapply to the technology that I sold. So you've talked about the emergencyconnectivity funds and that relations to the FCC any other programs orexisting pre negotiated contracts, those sorts of things that thatpartners should be thinking about similar to the emergency connectivityfund over the next couple of months as they have conversations with folks inthe public sector. Yeah, I mean the big areas are gonna be watching what,what's happening with the new funding bills around infrastructure, the budget,funding that's already been out there. But infrastructure is gonna be a bigone. It's gonna put a lot of funds out there that will go to state and localgovernments infrastructure is going to include railways, roads, bridges,tunnels, but it also includes airports. It also is going to include things likebroadband because it's so critical smart cities. So all of these thingsare going to drive drive technology and you need to be watching what'shappening with them. Yeah, absolutely. Do you have any tips for listeners thatyou and your team used to keep their eye on those developments, is it? Hey,just make sure you're tuned into the news or there are certain places thatyou go to kind of watch for those developments. Yeah, the, theacquisition sale cycles complex. So you can't really rely on the end user's,you really, you work with your selling to that they understand it. Youactually need to take a proactive approach to educating them to how tosolve for it. And that means you've got to build relationships with thecontracting shops and the acquisition shops and the partners to keep themlooped in. You know, it's important to keep in mind that they don't likesurprises. They don't want, you know, the acquisition side doesn't want endusers overstepping their authority. So you really need to ask a lot ofquestions. You need to listen a lot to help them navigate the process, butmore specifically to the broader things that are coming out in the marketplace.There's a number of, of great sources through the different Federal NewsRadio, through the Coalition for Government Procurement, Dell Tika.There's a lot of sources that digest this information and share it with thepartner network at ingram Micro. We do the same thing. We take in informationfrom a number of sources and then we try to share and impart it throughmultiple media channels to get it out there. So, so people have thisinformation and know what to look for Absolutely. Like in podcasts like U BTech talk right here, Right? Yeah, exactly. Well, Tony. I've got a fewmore questions for you before I let you go today. We've got some great thingsthat we've already touched on. I've got several notes for listeners. But onething I wanted to ask you before we start to wind things down is that I'veheard that really greater scrutiny around supply chain security issomething that public sector entities are thinking a lot about right now. Andyou know, we talk a lot about cybersecurity on this show. Supplychain security is something that comes up as well. Can you tell us a littlebit about why this greater scrutiny around supply chain security and whatpartners should do to respond to this change in the market as well? Yeah. Soyou know, I'm gonna throw out a bunch of acronyms right off the bat just tokind of start the conversation. So when...

...they hear the the acronym it, they'lltie it to supply chain risk management. Supply chain security. So see MMCmissed 800-1 71 Section 889 scrim. So that's s crm supply chain riskmanagement. The cybersecurity maturity model certification. See MMC missed800-1 71 was the standard that deals with controlled unclassifiedinformation. So the cyber threat is very real And the government is nostranger to it. They've been dealing with it for decades now. DHS hasidentified 16 critical industry sectors that are critical to national security.So, supply chain risk management is getting increasingly greater andgreater scrutiny and it's it's one of the critical areas. So securing it isgoing to take a village adversaries. Nation states, bad actors have becomeincreasingly sophisticated in their exploitation methods and society ingeneral. We're all becoming increasingly dependent upon technology.Everything we do has a piece of technology in it. Somebody's got to,you know, some type of device on their wrist, something in their hand,something in their briefcase or their purse or their backpack. Their homesare wired connected. So everything is connected. And this is what increasesthat attack surface area. The other thing is that it's not just about beingable to secure it and protect the information and data, but it's alsoabout technologies availability and the resilience of it in supply chains. Sosupply chain risk management, securing the supply chain is a much, much biggerundertaking and is going to get increased security. So what ourpartners need to do is they gotta get their processes and their own houses inorder first they need to train and educate their personnel. They gottastart by looking at their own systems and their own processes before theyventure outside to their partners and their networks and and the best placethey can start is really with nest and following the cybersecurity frameworkthat they've outlined and look at the requirements for nist 800 dish 1 71because it's a moving target today. But the scrutiny is only going to getgreater. Absolutely. I like what you said there, break it down into twosteps, get your own house in order and then take those learnings and take thatconfidence right and take that to customers as you start to to have thoseconversations. Well Tony every single guest on this show answers one questionand we couldn't let you go without asking you this question. We asked itof you last year the last time you were on the podcast, can you tell us wheredo you see technology going over the next year? Yeah, I think frankly it'sincreasing demands for hybrid environments and what I mean by that isyou're going to see more cloud, you know, more as a service, but you'realso going to see more modernization of data centers and more data centeroptimization. And then you're going to see increased mobility, NetworkBandwidth, connectivity and 5G and probably top of the list which we spenta lot of time talking about is cybersecurity and you're not going tobe able to get enough of it absolutely Tony for anybody listening today. Youknow, we mentioned make sure you're up to speed on government programs andspending programs like the emergency...

...connectivity fund. You mentioned someresources even separate from ingram micro like the Coalition for Governmentprocurement. Those were great. How about from the ingram team? Eitherresources, individuals like yourself to get in touch with or resources that theingram team has online. Where would you point folks to go to go further on thistopic and find some resources from ingram to learn more about what we'vetalked about today. Yeah. The best place to go is of course is the web andyou can go to ingram Micro's website at imagine next dot ingram Micro dot comslash public sector and that's going to get you to all the resources you mightwant to find for the public sector area. Fantastic. Well Tony, like I said, Iwas taking fast and furious notes as you were talking today and I reallysome of my key takeaways where the fact that partners should be excited aboutthe level playing field, the, the additional resources that come with theacquisition that we talked about and really for things that they can do asthey start to have conversations with customers in the public sector onelevel up those conversations start talking to ask some questions that tieto the higher level objectives. You know, we talked about, hey, what areyou doing for digital citizen services? What are some of your key areas thatyou're trying to improve their so that you can have higher level conversationsas an example, number two, follow through during the Fed buying season.Don't just start those conversations and not follow through two part to thatone and follow the money as you mentioned, look out for those programslike the emergency connectivity fund and others that we talked about atpretty good length. Number three really hit home for me. Don't assume that yourday to day, contact your end user buyers know the rules of the game. Theythat they know all the programs. I literally as you were saying that Tony,I was just nodding and nodding. I know podcast listeners can't, can't see medoing that. But I literally had conversations with end users, I wasselling to in the higher education system in Colorado for instance, and Isaid no, you can use this program and they said no, no, no, we can't. And soI went to the contracting office, I went to the procurement department asyou're recommending and I was able to educate them and guess what? Thosepurchasing folks really liked that. I was helping their folks stay within thelines, color within the lines if you will. So that's just fantastic advice.I wanted to call out for partners and then that was really number four. Don'tassume that the end users know what they can do and what they can takeadvantage of and then build those relationships with the procurement andcontracting offices. So those were my takeaways. This was a fantasticconversation, Tony, Thank you so much for joining us today. Well, thank youLogan for the opportunity. I really enjoyed the discussion as well.Absolutely. Well for everyone listening, if you liked this episode or if youhave a question, you can join the discussion on a two way street, notjust one way as here on the podcast, join us on twitter. Look for at ingramtech Soul give us a follow there. You can also look for the hashtag BtB techtalk to join the conversation on twitter. As always, thank you fortuning in. Thank you for subscribing to be to be tech Talk with ingram Micro.You've been listening to B to B Tech Talk with Anger Micro. This episode wassponsored by ingram Micro's. Imagine Next B two B Tech Talk is a jointproduction with Sweet Fish Media and ingram Micro, ingram Micro productionhandled by Laura Burton and Christine fan. To not miss an episode. Subscribetoday on your favorite podcast platform.

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