Published: December 8th, 2016

MISSISSAUGA – After a long career at IBM, Rich Hume, the executive vice president and COO of Tech Data, has been on the job for eight months and made his first visit to his new company’s Canadian operations in Mississuaga, Ont.

Tasked by company CEO Bob Dutkowsky to develop a global route to market along with boosting services revenue for the distributor, Hume looks to Tech Data Canada as a “bellweather” for future business growth.

CDN sat down with Hume to discuss this new direction along with what the company will look like after the Avnet integration is complete. This is part two of a two-part interview.

The following is an edited transcript.

CDN Now: Tech Data is now in Australia, and Australia has a lot of similarities to Canada as an SMB nation next to a big, powerful country – with us it’s the U.S. and with Australia it’s China. Before you entered Australia, did you look at the Canadian market to help you make that determination?

Tech Data COO Rich Hume
Tech Data COO Rich Hume

Rich Hume: We have always had interest in the market in Asia Pacific, and we always strategically intended to participate in that market, but we were looking for the right opportunity. Our primary vendors that are interested in having global relationships have been after this for quite a while now to expand our footprint into Asia, so when we looked at the Avnet opportunity it checked off many boxes for us, one of which was getting into the Asia Pacific market.

Australia is a strategic opportunity for us, as part of the overall landscape, but rather than making comparisons to Canada versus Australia,we were thinking more of the context of extending the landscape across all of Asia Pacific.

CDN Now: From all indications it looks like the Ingram HNA deal will go through. What does it mean to you now that your chief rival will no longer be American-owned?

Hume: Ingram has been a formidable competitor within the market for a long period of time, and I think that this is just another step in their overall evolution. We have a lot of respect for them as a competitor, and we think they’ll continue to be very competitive in the market. I really don’t believe that it will change the landscape dramatically.

Obviously, we aren’t privy to their plans as to what strategically they might be doing, but I kind of see that evolution as the normal ebb and flow of things. I think they’ll work to be competitive within the industry that we’re in, and we’ll work as well to provide excellent value to our vendors and customers as we move through it.

CDN Now: Tech Data started an Internet of Things (IoT) practice and while the IoT space holds a lot of potential, not many resellers except for those really large global solution providers have ventured into that space. What makes your offering different enough to entice these channel partners to get into IoT?

Hume: First, IoT, if you were to define the market, is massive, and I would venture to say that when you take a look at that market, there is no full service provider. There are capabilities that plug into the overall IoT ecosystem, and many vendors, channel partners, and distributors are bringing value to segments of that. I personally believe that we’re at the front end of the emergence of the entire IoT opportunity.

In Tech Data in particular, we’ve made some strategic investments around software, which allow for the effective and efficient passing of analytic data, which is a big piece. We’re investing in companies like Nexiona, and continuing to build out relationships with our traditional IT vendors, while leveraging their relationships that they’re building with industry vendors to build out capabilities as we move through time. There is a lot of IoT today,  but people aren’t thinking in the context of it being an IoT solution.

CDN Now: You recently made an announcement with delivering turnkey mobile apps through an alliance partnership with Kony. How does this augment your mobility strategy?

Hume: If you think about mobility and where it’s going, you see that we as consumers are used to the apps we consume in our day-to-day life, and now we are seeing the industry move towards applications for the enterprise to make businesses more productive. I think when you take a look at that relationship, you’re going to see more and more apps emerge and they’ll be used in the context around enterprise IT, not just just consumer IT.

That is a very powerful opportunity within our market, especially as you see the emergence of relationships like IBM and Apple, and it is all about taking mobility and app technology within the enterprise.

CDN Now: Any final thoughts?

Hume: I would say that I’ve been in this industry for 35 plus years now and it’s more exciting today than the day I entered it. From my perspective, looking back, I have not seen a time when there were as many different technology shifts as we are seeing now.

We’ve moved from a mainframe era to a client-server era, to now the new third generation platforms we see, and it never ceases to amaze me how this industry continues to drive the productivity of the market. Right now, there is more opportunity and more capability to be able to help enterprises and consumers to make their lives and businesses more efficient and productive.