Ingram Micro Executive On How To Evaluate Your Digital Fitness

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CJ Fairfield

“My call to action for the channel is: start understanding the experience of your end customers,” he says. “Understanding what problems they want to solve, understanding how to become more digitally fit. Every organization today tries to stay relevant and digitally fit. We should be partners to help them solve this problem.”


Without digital fitness, there’s a good chance a business will fail, according to Sanjib Sahoo, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Irvine, Calif.-based distributor Ingram Micro.

Sahoo spoke to partners at The Channel Company’s Best-of-Breed (BoB) conference in Atlanta this week about how to change your mindset and become a digitally fit company.

“There are many factors that drive physical fitness, it’s your health, your heart…everything,” he said. “Digital fitness also ties into the same thing, the longevity of businesses to stay relevant. It’s really to be appreciated that it’s ongoing and it’s a mindset change.

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

According to Sahoo, to survive, companies need to stop talking about digital transformation and figure out if they are digitally fit, what fitness level they are at and create a digital fitness program. He added that companies must also verify their digital BMI (body mass index).

“More than 40 percent of the companies on the Fortune 500 list 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 an organization’s digital BMI: legacy and core systems, data, customer experience, product mentality, balanced portfolio, innovation, operations and integration, and speed to market.

Partners need to have nimble and flexible legacy and core systems, create a data foundation for all systems, figure out how to lead a better customer where experience counts, have a product mentality to create a better user experience, and innovate be, operate and integrate all at the same time.

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

The second step is planning. Transformation cannot happen in isolation. Partners need to make the digital journey a part of their operations. Third is creating an architecture. The partners have to figure out how to do this

Decoupling at the legacy level, at the data level and at the experience level.

“Start modernizing the legacy at the same time, collect data at the same time, and build your engines and architects so that everything is decoupled and you can move really fast,” he said.

The final part is establishing governance. Create a governance structure that understands what creates the value.

According to Sahoo, when a company embarks on digital transformation, more than 80 percent of those efforts fail. Businesses need to focus on being digitally fit.

“Often we try to transform or innovate in isolation,” he said. “We develop technology first and then try to adopt it. It does not work anymore. The reason for this is that it is still ongoing.”

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, acting and changing together.”

But digitization is not automation, but experience.

“Every company is thinking about how we can create a better customer experience, employee experience and supplier experience,” he said. “Once you focus on the experience, automation follows.”

One way to think about it, he said, is the “Sunday-Monday experience.” When someone watches a game on a Sunday night, they use a food delivery service to order a pizza. You can order groceries the same way. Next Monday, however, a person will ask what technologies and solutions they can buy.

“Why is this Sunday and Monday experience so different?” he said. “We have to concentrate on blending, i.e. on digitization. People think, “Let’s automate. Let’s modernize our infrastructure. That’s digitization.” You’re dead wrong. It completely creates that blended experience and creates the consumerization.”

It is also about digital operations and value creation.

“Companies that couldn’t close the opportunity gap are left behind,” he said, adding that it’s all about people, not technology.

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

Partners should also be chief value officers to customers, he said. Don’t just focus on the product, focus on the experience and value.

What matters, however, is a rethink.

“My call to action for the channel is: start understanding your end customer experience,” he said. “Understanding what problems they want to solve, understanding how to become more digitally fit. Every organization today tries to stay relevant and digitally fit. We should be partners to help them solve this problem.”

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

“I think it’s something that everyone knows, but I think up until now everyone’s focus has been on the technology and not 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 technologies, but really focuses on the business impact that the technology will have on their business,” he said.

    Learn more about CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an Associate Editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Before joining CRN, she worked at 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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