Arrow ECS bags IBM's Irish business after 'very strong' RFI
Arrow ECS is looking to enlist more Irish partners for IBM after wresting sole distributor status with the vendor from Exertis.Following a formal distribution review, Arrow ECS was appointed to carry IBM's infrastructure hardware and software portfolio in the Emerald Isle in January, building on the duo's existing UK partnership.Talking to CRN, however, Arrow ECS UK&I VP Nick Bannister stressed that Arrow's status as an IBM ally in the UK and elsewhere in EMEA was no guarantee of success in the process."We knew when we entered into this that we had to put a very, very strong RFI [Request for Information] response in place, with investments that showed we would really execute on what we promised," Bannister said."It wasn't a gift - it was on its own merits."Two-pronged strategyArrow will pursue a "two-pronged approach" involving selling more or new technology to its existing Irish partners, while targeting new partners, Bannister explained.Arrowsphere - which Bannister (pictured below) billed as "probably the best cloud platform in the industry" - was another key element of its pitch."That's the way the market's going. We have dedicated cloud teams in every country, and I would say we're streets ahead of most in that area. And this fits really well into that," he said.Nick Bannister, vice president sales for Arrow's enterprise computing solutions business in the UK and IrelandExtending one of its two UK distributors' rights to Ireland (IBM also works with TD Synnex in the UK) means Big Blue can service those partners with both a UK and Irish business more holistically, Alison Say, VP for IBM ecosystem, UK&I told CRN.IBM has a "big focus" on working with distribution following the launch of its new Partner Plus programme in January, Say (pictured top) stressed."We see distributors playing a role in really helping us recruit and re-energise some of our partners that we haven't put our arms around quite in the same way over the last couple of years," she explained.Distributors like Arrow have been tasked with expanding partners' IBM offering into new practices, including those associated with recent acquisitions such as Turbonomic, Instana and Envisi, she added.Software shiftUnder Partner Plus, Big Blue has put a "significant focus" on growing its software footprint with its partner ecosystem, bringing in programmes that deny its territory sellers compensation if they fail to work with a partner, Say explained."That will change the way in software will impact both our distribution and downstream business partners in terms of the mix of their [IBM] business," she said.Based on its 2017 acquisition of Commtech, Arrow ECS' Irish operation employs around 30 staff.Retaining the sole distributor status that Exertis previously enjoyed provides Arrow with "security of investment", Bannister said.Selling new technology to Irish partners is relatively easy thanks to Ireland's status as a tech leader, he added."Whenever we do events in Ireland, we always have huge turnout from the reseller community. People are keen to understand what's the next thing and where they can add value to the sale. There's a real can-do spirit in Ireland," he concluded.