Is the Personal Touch Getting Tech Data Back on Track?By Chris Gonsalves | Posted 2008-05-18 Email Print
Riding a wave of growing revenues and renewed confidence among customers, Tech Data's Bob Dutkowsky tells Channel Insider he'll use the distributor's credit clout, a growing roster of VAR services, and continued global expansion to maintain momentum.
Q: What are you hearing from customers here that lets you know Tech Data is ion the right track? Or where you may need improvement?
BD: Breakout dialog -- a customer this morning at breakfast told me, 'Tech Data is back.’ They’ve always been a proud partner of Tech Data and they’ve always relied on us. And we maybe lost our way a little bit. But we’re back and they are proud to be a customer and a partner of ours. Sitting in our chair, of course, we love hearing that. We have to earn that kind of confidence. His guidance to me was, 'Don’t let Tech Data get fat, dumb and happy. Keep it lean and mean a focused.’ Because, you know, that’s what it used to be and that’s what we think we’re back to now. We can feel it.
Q: Is that kind of feedback really the reason for a conference like TechSelect? What do you take away from an event like this?
BD: For me, it’s the opportunity to talk to a couple of hundred customers in 48 hours. You hear a common voice. I keep hearing that our sales engine in running better today than it had been in the past. I keep hearing that VARs appreciate how we are trying to get in front of the technologies, that we’re committed to virtualization, for example. Two years ago, we weren’t even thinking about that. Now we’re the leaders in the channel on it. So what I’m hearing validates a lot of our strategies.
And the VARs really do need us. We’re strategically positioned in the channel. Don’t forget, there are 50 vendors here at this event who are whispering in our other ear saying, 'Help me sell.’ But what the VARs are really saying is, 'Help me simplify that. I can’t possibly keep track of all that.’
Q: There’s a dichotomy with Tech Data in that you do a great deal of e-business, but you’re pushing to maintain personalized relationships with customers. How do you maintain that balance?
BD: It’s true we do the vast majority of our business electronically. In fact, we do more e-business than Amazon.com. We don’t trumpet that a lot, mostly because we’re proud of the fact that we still have the opportunity and the infrastructure to talk to the customer. They may order it electronically but they still deal with us personally. It’s in our culture and we never want to become just an e-business company.
We talk to these customers electronically every day, but when it comes right down to it, they still want the ability to come into a room and chat. TechSelect proves it. They are willing to spend their own money and be out of their offices for a week to come here to do that. You don’t have to do it every single day. But you do have to provide those opportunities.