Why specialist distribution is the emotion of fulfilment not just the motion of fulfilment
The dust has settled now on one of the biggest stories in the channel in years with the news that 2 of the biggest outfits in distribution had merged their operations creating one of the biggest A&E departments in the World. OK I say that tongue-in-cheek, but with over 1500 vendors and 200,000 products, they effectively offer a general service, as best they can where scale, speed and expanse is their core proposition – just like the emergency room – triage for a quick diagnosis and then a General Medic (junior) for the treatment and as best a prognosis these generalists can give. Anything more and you get referred to a specialist …. Anyone you know with a knee injury or eye problem will tell you ….. they’re seeing a specialist – and not only that – they say it with a sense of passive warmth and confidence … you get the feeling they’re happier being looked after by an expert in their field.
In distribution, there are broad liners (generalists) and there are specialists. The broad liners are large, spanning the world, stocking thousands of vendor lines. What they lack in value they make up for in efficiency, speed and scale. The specialists, meanwhile, are rich in value; they invest in knowledge, relationships and culture. But they are typically local, perhaps regional at a push, but invariably small.
And so, whether you are a reseller partner (regardless of size) or a vendor (irrespective of your market maturity), you always wish the broad liners could be more specialist, or that the specialists could be bigger. These perspectives should command more attention than they do. In many respects the strategies of Specialists are poles apart from the strategies of the global generalists – they look for economies of scale, leaner operational friction and critical mass, often looking to create value through cost cutting or currency gains. I’m extremely glad to be in the former group – the specialists – although we do have one thing in common – global aspirations – trying – quite simply to fill the void between the local specialists, but with global reach.
No company in this sector has ever managed that before, and there are many mitigating reasons why, however, and finally, at Exclusive, I finally think we have a chance to be the first global specialist.
What a global specialist looks like
Even though the general IT market is valued in the Trillions of $’s there is one part of this market that is more critical, more complex and more demanding than most – you could call it the cyber ecosystem space. It’s where cyber and infrastructure meet – We call this – Trusted Digital Infrastructure. There is a huge shortfall in knowledge, skills, capacity and scale globally. And this is the GAP Exclusive aims to fill. A global specialist player with the right ecosystem partners, a high investment in knowledge and expertise, on a global scale.
DNA is everything
What we’ve done is taken the DNA of a much smaller, more dynamic and value-generating business and grown it globally. (The Exclusive Network). Typically, specialists lose the ability to generate value and preserve distinctive capabilities when they grow. Not us. The biggest names in the industry were smaller and more specialised once. They all lost skill in favour of Size. We added size and strength!
Did you know that Exclusive has over 600 systems engineers (and counting) and our global logistics and operational capability stretch to over 195 countries, and with 5 global support centres – we are fully vested and committed to this specialist pathway.
Global and local
Coffee houses are specialists, right? You go there for coffee and perhaps something to go with it. Not groceries, not alcohol, not hardware goods. If Starbucks can be thought of as a global specialist, how do they maintain local relevance? The core product – the coffee – is reassuringly familiar, the aroma the same – the global core offering is the same – but the people, and the extras, are always different. You want a pastry in Vienna – you get what the locals expect. Same goes for a juice in Bangkok or a bagel in New York.
Localism is essential to Exclusive’s ‘global, local’ mantra, even down to the customer experience – or as we say – services. Strip it all back and Exclusive is a provider of distribution services. That’s our mindset, embodied in a services-first ideology. It’s why our vendor go-to-market strategies are always bespoke, never off-the-shelf. It’s why we innovated, for example, the concept of MSSD (Managed Security Service Distributor) for budding MSSP’s – and launched the unique digital platform X-OD to answer the ‘everything-as-a-service’ needs of the consumption-based IT subscription economy….. and with our recent move into cloud native services, containers and Kubernetes, we continue to innovate and disrupt….
So let’s go full circle to your friend or relative seeing a specialist – that feeling of warmth, contentment and satisfaction they glow of, they are in the right hands, getting the right treatment and will get an accelerated outcome ….. it’s that feeling we’re trying to create – deliver distribution fulfilment as an EMOTION, not just going through the motions of a soulless, general transaction.
I’ll check back here with you guys to let you know how it’s going – in the meantime – if you think we’re not delivering on this – do let me know ……Specialists are good listeners …..