Insight has been going through its own transformation over the past couple of years and the aim has remained a...
constant one, to get into a position where it can deliver cloud-based services to help customers exploit digital opportunities.
The firm is starting to see the results of its focus on cloud and services and in its 2017 numbers, which were released earlier this month, it indicated that net sales were up by 22% to $6.7bn and gross profit was $919m.
Services accounted for 10% of global revenues and the investments and internal changes that had been needed to get to that position have largely been made giving the firm optimism that that contribution will continue to grow.
Wolfgang Ebermann, President at Insight EMEA, said that from a UK perspective there was a great deal of pride in what had been achieved and it had taken the business forward in 2017.
"We are driving transformation as a company and will keep growing our managed IT services business. It has been a really good accomplishment by the UK team," he said.
Across the company the focus on cloud and services continues but there is also plenty of talk about digital and as a result that is increasingly encompassing emerging areas like IoT.
"We have been getting ready for the digital age over the past three to four years and are helping organisations as part of their digital readiness," he said.
The main approach has been to help customers start to enjoy a different way or working promoting mobility and unified comms to increase efficiency, productivity and attract millennial workers.
The next stage has been to encourage users to look at the infrastructure and make sure that where the bulk of the IT budget is being spent at keeping the lights on also gets some innovation. The cloud can play a crucial role there as customers look for opportunities to transform the established operations.
Finally, and this starts to touch on the implications of IoT, there is a need for making sure that applications work across the cloud and various devices, there are chances for more automation and business processes can change with the growth of the spread of digital transformation
Ebermann is keen to stress that those processes of change can not be limited just to customers and the channel has to also go through its own metamorphosis to get ready for a digital age. Sharing the experiences it has gone through the main advice is to avoid the temptation to delay making changes.
"The channel is going through a transformation moving to become an intelligent solution provider," he added that making changes is a challenge and involves bringing all the staff on that journey.
The vendors can provide some help and Insight enjoys a close relationship with Microsoft so has been able to tap into advice and guidance from that source. It has also talked to business transformational specialists to make sure it is not missing any tricks. Finally the CEO Kenneth Lamneck set up a global leadership team to shape the internal discussion and strategy.
"It is not an easy journey to go [to a different financial model] but if you want to go through a successful transformation then you have to take your people with you," he said.
One of the consequences of going through a transformation process is that there is the chance to align staff more closely with a consultative approach around cloud and services.
That should give the likes of Insight a better chance to pitch support to those customers that are struggling with internal skills gaps. In theory there is a large channel opportunity there but it does not come without its own challenges.
"It requires a big investment. There is a industry wide shortage out there and we are fighting for the best of the best and there are not enough skilled experts. It is a challenge for vendors, for us and our clients," said Ebermann.
Given his position looking at Insight across EMEA it is difficult not to dwell, however briefly, on the possible impact of Brexit.
The position from Insight is that given its multiple locations and track record serving multinational customers the political process of Brexit is not going to prevent it from continuing to service clients.
"We are GDPR ready for May. We will do everything to make our clients happy," he added "We will support our clients based on trading policies that will come out."
Ebermann also shares in the optimism that is flowing around the channel at the moment and stated that for those that are prepared to invest in getting themselves digital ready there are a growing number of opportunities out there. The vast majority of customers are starting to look at the way they operate their businesses and want help getting quicker and better.
The transformation at Insight continues but the results so far have got a thumbs up from management and give those running the channel player the confidence to state that they are continuing to head in the right direction.