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

Episode · 1 year ago

Sitting down with Craig Birmingham | President's Club Series


As more and more millennials and Gen Zs enter the workforce, the expectation of modern technology in the workplace is growing. Today’s employees expect the same quality of tech at work as they have at home, which means the line between business and consumer solutions will continue to disintegrate. 

In this episode of B2B Tech Talk, live from the U.S. Sales Kickoff, guest host James Carbary of Sweet Fish Media speaks with Ingram Micro’s VP of business and consumer solutions, Craig Birmingham

James and Craig discuss:  

  • The main reasons why the line between consumer and business solutions is disappearing 
  • How partners are impacted by the consolidation of business and consumer needs 
  • How consistent collaboration between Ingram Micro and its partners is a win-win situation  

Follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Sponsored by Ingram Micro President’s Club and Ingram Micro Financial Solutions. 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. You can also listen on our website.

You're listening to be tob tech talkwith Ingram Micro, the place to learn about new technology and technological advances beforethey become mainstream. This podcast is sponsored by Ingram Micros Presidents Club, wherewinners are made. All right, let's get into the show. Welcome backto Beb Tech Talk. Today we are at Ingram Micros US sales kickoff andbuffalow or. My name is James Carberry and I'm one of the producers ofthe show. I'm joined today by Craig Birmingham, vice president and GM ofbusiness and consumer solutions for Ingram Micro. Craig, how you do it today? Great, great, how are you doing? I am wonderful. I'mexcited to chat with you. So so, Craig, you had some really excitingnews happened recently. You were recently inducted into the dealer scope two thousandand Twenty Hall of fame, and you started your career in an entry levelinside sales position. Can you talk to...

...us about but what's been the mostcritical keys to your success as you've continued to grow in your sales career?Well, I'm first of all, it was very humble, by the bythe honor so that was pretty cool. It also made me feel a littleold, I'm not going to lie, but now I you know, Istarted ingram almost thirty years ago and came in completely out of the industry.Started as an insight sales rap and it took a mentory of different roles throughoutmy career. I'd say the thing that probably was consistent about the whole thingwas always always trying to learn something new, networking with people and really understanding understanding. It's funny guy that meantor mind you to tell me, always knowwhere your dumbness starts, and so really, you know, stay humble and aska lot of questions and really, you know, start to build theteam around yourself. I think that's probably the biggest thing, because you can'tdo it all and I've been very fortunate to have a lot of great peopleworking around me and with me throughout the years. In an article from ChannelFutures, you've said that the line between...

...consumer and business needs no longer exists. Can you elaborate on that? Sure? So we acquired a company a whileback and it was a consumer electronics company and it really was focused onconsumer goods, right, and as as as that our business has evolved overthe years. Hence the branding change that we took on business and consumer solutions. There's two things that we understood. One, it's about solutions in thatproducts right and then to a lot of the needs and expectations of a consumeror driven by what they get at work, right or in their business or smallbusiness. That technology also hit gotten so advanced and so simple that itwas in a lot of cases for small business owner will cost if effective,to put in a solution that they may have at home. Right. So, whether it's a networking solute, shown whether it's a physical security solution,all those things, people have become so accustomed to technology and not scared ofit like they will. You know,...

...go back to one thousand nine hundredand ninety, I was petrified of messing something up on a computer and network. Today everything's so simple and plug and Ping. We're used to it right. So that line between what a consumer product is in a business grade productis is not just blurred, is pretty much gone away. How do yousee that reality impacting ingrabs partners? So in a couple of ways. One, like I said, that keeping up with the technology is getting harder andharder and because it's at such a rapid pace of devolution, it's ingram microplace the part of being the advisor. Right. We have access to aton of technology and we have subject matter experts that can help our partners nothave to worry about, hey, what's a wayson? Grace will help you. Will help you with that. We have an agnostic view, right.We can tell you solutions that'll work. And more importantly, and what Itaught my sales teams and where we've been...

...very successful, is really listen tothe partner and understand what they're end goal is, what are they trying toachieve, and be really part of their strategic plan and then we can putthe solution together that helps him get that. When you hear people say that retailis dead, your response is really interested. You respond by thing that'snot dead, it's just evolving. How do you see it evolving and howcan companies respond to that evolution? So it's funny. I think I madethat statement because I remember in the early s when thecom boom happened, everyonewas telling me I was at retail accounts, a gold retails Dad's dud and hasthirty years ago. I still hear it is. It's just evolving andyou got to keep up with the evolution, right. So it's really about theexperience, right. Everybody has very high expectations of what that experience is, and also personalizing, right. So I'll give you a good example.There they're testing stores. There stores Amazon...

...starter with one that are that don'thave a checkout higher right. Taking that a step further with AI, they'reusing technology to not only have face recognition, understand who you are when you walkin the store, but also understand what your preferences are when you likeand make recommendations on the fly as you go to purchase a product. Sothat's that's cool and very, very, really neat thing about where technology istaking us. I'd also tell you that a lot of the retail experience todayis, at doubt, again experience, but a social experience, right.So a lot of the California we've got a great outdoor mall, for alack of a better term, that is really more of a social gathering placethat has products you can buy surroundings, right. So that's kind of whereI see the Atlusian going make it more and more of a kind of socialexperience, right, and then also incorporate that with you have to have asolid ecoms platform and experience for Desten,...

...because we act to buy things ina number of different ways any time of the day. Yep, and havea short we can yep. It's so crazy how you know things like Amazonand what you were talking about earlier. Right, but what happens on theconsumer side of our lives ultimately attacks how we make decisions on the business sideof our lives. And then, speaking to the social peace, it makessense that so much of our your what social media has done the last ten, fifteen years. It only makes sense that that would translate over now intophysical spaces. And how can you create physical spaces that foster deep desire thatpeople clearly have to be social, the interactive others. So I love totouch somebody and also, for my marketing perspective, social media is where youmight get today. Yeah, right, that's what it's all about. Eight, I mean thought it's Yelp, right, it is product good where. Idon't know what if I heard from twenty of my friends that it isokay, great, right, influencers now are so different, yeah, thanthey were in the past. Totally agree.

I want to shift the interview craginto into our fast five. So I'm gonna ask you five questions.I'm really excited to hear what you what you have to say about that.Okay, the first one. What does one Ingram mean to you? OneIngram to each the short version and it's just about consistent elaboration across all businessunits within our portfolio. What's coming up in two thousand and twenty with Angramthat you're really excited about? Well, you know, there's a couple ofthings. One, we're going to all in on gaming. So the viewershipfor gamers today has more viewers than any sports team in history. If yougo if you look at universities, there are, over last time I checkedover, a hundred and sixty five universities that offer scholarships for Gamers. Wow, and there's a huge opportunity for our resellers and Gett into that space andwe've had several opportunities already, particularly at the university level. So so gamingsexciting and we've looked at our portfolio.

We're adding some new vendors and Ithink that's good. Going to be one big opportunity. The other the otheropportunity that I'm excited about for two thousand and twenty. A couple of things. We've got a great as a service. So everybody's talked about as a service, you know, till they're bloom in the face. But at somepoint hardware is going that catch up as well, and so we've got anawesome technology as a service solution that we're going out. It's here. Andthen also a manage print service that we're going out this year. So I'mexcited about that. And then finally, you know, it's funny when wetalk about print, we also we invested into large full and print category.We have a campus in Greenville Care Line of South Carolina. In that thatteam has seemed tremendous growth over two thousand and nineteen. We're going to we'regoing to continue to see growth through the two thousand and twenty. What's what'snew and exciting in tech this year? Well, I'll tell you what's goingto drive a lot of things. Obviously...

...robotics. We just came out ofCEES. There's a lot of really cool a high stuff in privacy is abig, big talking point right now too. So you know, when you thinkabout everyone's. Everyone's seen the videos of deal ring getting hacked on peopletalking to their kids, and that's get that's a scary thing. The interestingpiece about that and drives me crazy when I see it. Ring didn't gethated. The Home Network I hacked right. So we carry a couple of manufacturersthat that offer wireless mession what we can the home. We think ofit this way because there are so many smart advices and pot today and insmall businesses that think of it as your credit card that has a chipping andwhat the mashing does is it takes your Wi fi network and it keeps itscrambled so that if you have a smart coffeemaker, people can hack into theircuffee maker just like a ring rights or any video within your house. That'swith getting hacked, as as the WI FI network. We got own.So I think that's a great uportunity.

And then, of course G,I mean five g's here, and that poses a whole nother opportunity from harborperspective and from my solution of perspective, because Ig is going to be awesome, but it has to be enabled with devices that are five g and yetso big opportunity there. What were some accomplishments in two thousand and nineteen thatyou and your team are really proud of? Really proud of business and consumer solutionsas a whole. We were comprised of three different specialty areas, basicallydesktop a notebook, consumer technology solutions and imaging solutions. All three of thosebus overachieved tremendously, and particularly in the desktop and notebook space. So seeingthat double digit growth in a time where everyone was not as optimistic as nineteenbeing a big growth here has been tremendous. What do you think led to thatgrowth? A couple of things. One of those some people that reallyare very innovative about their approach to opportunity, and so not only you know,obviously the windows refresh was a big...

...driver in the desktop notebook space.That said, we were doing a lot of really creative things tell partners capitalizein wind deals on those opportunities. But like that are competition with so nowit's beginning. The other piece too, is it's really about, you know, communication, collaboration and really listening to our partners and really understanding what thetrends are, how quickly they're moving and being a part of that, becausethat's been a big piece star successful. I want to want to close outthe interview, Craig, with with a topic that I think you and Iare both really, really passionate about. What can channel partners do to createan incredible cust works? I think the biggest thing is to really wake upevery day and try to understand and be a big part of who you're sellingto write. Understand the opportunities to be Welsh. Will execute on everything elseright. We're going to. We're the...

...brand behind their business right. Soit's really stay forward thinking, understand what the needs are and solve their andusers problems in and are fast and efficient way, and that's where we comeout. Will do all they have lifting you continue to look forward to business. Greig, thank you so much for your time. This has been incredible. It's been my pleasure. Thank you. It's been great. Have a goodmood. You've been listening to be to be tech talk with Ingram micro. This episode is sponsored by Ingram Micros Presidents Club. Be Tob tech talkis a joint production by sweetish media and Ingram micro. Ingram micro production handledby Laura Burton and Christine Fan to make sure you never miss an episode.Subscribe today in your favorite podcast player.

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