Tech Data Authority had the opportunity to connect with Gordon Lord, Sr. Director - IT Distribution & Channel Strategy at APC by Schneider Electric. Find out what this energetic channel insider had to say about customer conversations, why it pays to be proactive and how his organization partnered with Tech Data to introduce a new business approach to the UPS category.
Welcome, Gordon! Tell us, what energizes you about your work as a Sr. Director of IT distribution and channel strategy for APC by Schneider Electric?
Our customers always energize me. I love talking with our customers, our distributors and our reseller partners. Like any organization, we can become too inwardly focused. When we engage with customers, we are reminded that they are our source of ideas and inspiration. They have regular conversations with end customers, which ultimately helps us build our strategy.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Between four kids and a packed day of customer and colleague calls, it’s a juggling act! Before the onset of COVID-19, I travelled two-three times per month. Now, like many organizations, we’ve pivoted to holding strategy sessions virtually. While they’re effective and keep us all connected, I have to admit that I miss just sitting in a room with customers – in their environment, on their turf – and holding a strategy session. It’s a chance to let loose and get to know each other personally, while also focusing on business. I believe that’s how you build strong relationships. Because most of my work is customer-facing, I’m excited to get back on the road!
Talk to us about APC by Schneider Electric’s strengths in the uninterruptable power supply (UPS) category, specifically UPS as a service (UPSaaS).
If I were to begin with our strengths, it’s that APC has been a market share leader in the UPS category for 30-plus years. We make high quality products but, what’s differentiated us is our software, how we integrate with other platforms (be it Microsoft or Nutanix or VMWare), as well as the larger IT ecosystem. People don’t just purchase UPS. They buy it to support something else – like the connectivity provided by a network switch or compute storage.
UPSaaS is a new approach to the market, one that lets you monitor a dispatch. Most customers, when they deploy UPS, will put it in a closet and won’t pay much attention to it. Our service supports our managed service providers (MSPs) and end customers, proactively monitoring their UPS. And it’s the word proactive that I can’t stress enough. With UPSaaS, if any type of issue arises, we can handle it proactively and address it quickly.
Why is UPSaaS beneficial for IT professionals?
The first and foremost benefit is economical. UPSaaS answers the question: “How do I preserve some of my capital expenditure budget, and how do I leverage the different budgets that I might have?”
The other piece is that we live in a hybrid world. Customers have applications both on-prem and hosted [in the cloud]. The connectivity of their IT infrastructure is as critical as ever, because a UPS is about availability and reliability. If you’re not proactively monitoring the battery life of the UPS, it could be a problem. In that sense, UPSaaS bridges the benefits of the as-a-service model with the monitoring and dispatch that are essential to the health of UPS solutions. It’s an ideal marriage.
Finally, the UPSaaS model frees up working capital, which is of particular interest to small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) and mid-market players.
Can you tell us more about the benefit of UPSaaS to the SMB and mid-market community?
When we came out with the idea of UPSaaS, we had it 60 percent baked. We had a general understanding of as-a-service models, but not a complete window into how it all worked. Partnering with Tech Data was instrumental in bringing it to market. Our sales force is accustomed to selling tech – speeds and feeds. But most aren’t as accustomed to talking about operating expenditures, about business-level conversations.
With Tech Data – and the financial support of Tech Data Capital – we’ve been able to up our game. So now, when our sales force is speaking with customers in the SMB and mid-market space, they can act as true consultants. They’re no longer just closing a purchase order; they’re helping customers know what their options are. Rather than yesterday’s model (which often dictated that customers would have to outlay a significant amount of their budget for one expenditure), we can offer a new option: as-a-service, which lets customers pay on a subscription basis, and frees up capital for other critical areas of their business – a key benefit for SMB and mid-market organizations.
Gordon, how can Tech Data’s reseller partners take advantage of this opportunity?On our end, we’ve built the resources to help Tech Data’s partners engage with impact. We know that UPSaaS is a new conversation, and we’re 100 percent committed to partner enablement. We’ve invested a great deal of time devising how this would work on an operational level, and have created marketing collateral to bring the message to the market.
When you engage with us, we’ll work with you to engage your customers. You just need to make the choice to ask. We coach you on the right questions to ask your customers, on how to help them consider the possibilities. Just like we’ve all pivoted in creative ways over the last year and a half, we’re here to help your customers pivot to the as-a-service model and apply it to UPS solutions. We saw that the as-a-service model is where the future is headed, and we wanted to help our customers get ahead of it. With Tech Data, we’re getting ahead of it together.
About the Author
Dena Koklanaris joined Tech Data in 2018 and leads the company’s in-house team of copywriters and content strategists. She’s proud to hone her craft for one of Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.” When she’s not writing, you can find her on the beach or riding her bike.