Denis Gaudreault, country manager of Intel Canada Ltd.

Published: September 28th, 2018

Intel Corp. says resellers will remain a crucial part of its go-to-market strategy as it pivots towards an operation as a “data-centric business,” Canadian executives said on Thursday.

Hosting Intel Experience Day in Toronto, Intel marked its 50th anniversary and talked about how the company will evolve in the future. With a history like that, the chipmaker has a well-established and mature channel network in Canada that includes large resellers, distributors, and OEM manufacturers. Its partners number greater than 4,000 across Canada.

“You don’t buy direct from Intel,” says Phil Vokins, channels reseller manager for Intel Canada. “Resellers are vital to the organization… we are completely dependent on channel resellers.”

While it’s well-entrenched in the Canadian market, Vokins says Intel is open to new partners. The way Intel sees it, so long as technology is proliferating, its business will grow. So it is looking for any ideas that will pave the way for more silicon to be poured into the market.

“I am constantly evolving our model and wake up every morning thinking ‘do we have the right model?'” he said.

Intel Experience Day - gaming rig
Intel says its not backing away from the PC market.

Last week the chipmaker announced it is setting up an engineering lab in Toronto, focused on developing a new discrete GPU product by 2020. Earlier this year it announced an investment in Toronto-based cloud platform LegUp Computing Inc. In June 2017, it made an investment in Element AI, a Montreal-based firm that seeks to help businesses integrate AI into their processes. That was part of a record-breaking $135 million Series A round at the time.

Intel is also a partner in the federal government-funded Supercluster – a group of private firms, academic institutions, and venture capital firms – SCALE AI (Supply Chains and Logistics Excellence AI).

Intel Canada Country Manager Denis Gaudreault said these moves fed into the California-based firm’s new data-centric strategy. In Canada, Intel wants to help organizations ranging from small Mom & Pop shops to larger enterprise and public sector adopt new technologies and find ways to put data to work.

“Data is the new oil,” Gaudreault said. “We want to be a key contributor in how that will create new business models.”

As for the investments it’s made, Intel looks for alignment in strategy, the Country Manager says. Its funneled a lot of capital into the AI ecosystem globally – announcing in September 2017 that it had put more than $1 billion into this pot – because it believes AI will transform business.

Intel Experience Day - LED colour laptops
According to IDC Canada, PC shipments are growing in Canada.

How Intel helps channel partners 

Intel provides its partners with digital marketing assistance. Voikins says he personally works with sales representatives, training them to follow the path from the PC buyer in an organization to reach the people running the data centre as well.

Intel also engages with customers directly on behalf of its partners. For example, it will help run customer events, and recently collaborated with a partner on an event focused on running a hybrid cloud environment.

And while Intel was clear about its data-centric future at the event, Voikins says not to confuse that with any retreat from the client PC market.

“Far from it,” he told CDN. “The PC market in Canada is defying all predictions, demand is going through the roof.”

According to IDC Canada’s Quarterly PC Tracker Program, there were 1.25 million traditional PCs shipped in Canada in the first quarter of 2018. That’s up 4.2 per cent year over year, which is above the global average of no growth in shipments.

Gartner’s data for worldwide PC shipments show a slight decline year over year.