Frank Vitagliano, a 30-year-plus channel veteran and an IT Industry Hall of Fame recipient, has been named CEO of the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC).
Vitagliano (pictured right with The Channel Company Chairman Robert Faletra), a passionate advocate for distribution as a channel chief for IBM, Dell EMC and Juniper Networks, is now chartered with helping the world’s top technology distributors “define” and “promote” technology distribution in the cloud services era.
“This gives me the opportunity to work with many of the global distributors, the vendor community that I have known and loved over the years and, of course, to articulate the value of distribution to solution providers from someone who has walked in their shoes,” said Vitagliano, who was most recently CEO of Solution Provider 500 powerhouse Computex Technology Solutions. “I couldn’t be more excited about the distribution opportunity ahead.”
As the CEO of the worldwide industry association that represents distributors selling more than $150 billion in annual technology product and services sales, Vitagliano will be working side by side with the CEOs from the top distributors in the world, including Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monie, Tech Data CEO Rich Hume, Arrow CEO Mike Long, Synnex CEO Dennis Polk and D&H Co-Presidents Dan and Michael Schwab.
Hume, who has known Vitagliano as a friend and colleague for three decades, said Vitagliano’s channel experience and knowledge of the end-to-end “channel ecosystem” makes him the perfect person to lead the GTDC.
“Frank comes to the table with nearly four decades worth of experience not only around distribution but the entire business partner channel ecosystem,” said Hume. “He has connections not only across all of distribution, but down into resellers, solution providers, MSPs and back to the vendors. He has worked in the vendor community and in the channel as a solution provider. He is the complete package. I am personally excited as is all of the distribution community about Frank coming into this role. How often do get an opportunity to find someone with four decades of experience to come into a role like this to set a new agenda as we move forward?”
Hume, who met Vitagliano when they were both working in senior channel jobs 30 years ago at IBM, said the secret to Vitagliano’s success is in no small part due to his authenticity, sincerity and “love” of the channel. “That love of the channel goes beyond almost anyone I know,” said Hume. “Frank has poured his heart and soul into the business partner channel for four decades.”
Hume—who has stepped up the charge at Tech Data to invest heavily into four game-changing markets, including cloud, analytics and the Internet of Things, security and next-generation services, said Vitagliano will play a “critical” role in the “transitioning” of the distribution value proposition moving to “solutions aggregation” in a virtual services world.
“We’re moving from a physical distribution capability to virtual distribution capabilities with cloud marketplaces, etc,” he said. “We are going to see a pretty big shift in terms of content toward these areas relative to what we have historically sold. It is really critical to have someone like Frank to articulate that change. It’s really important that story gets told properly to our vendor and customer community so they can leverage this capability.”
Vitagliano said the role of the GTDC has moved well beyond its early charter of advocating the value of the distribution business model. “The marketplace understands distribution and clearly acknowledges its value in the overall supply chain,” said Vitagliano. “What I am excited about is helping to articulate the value of distribution in the digital transformation/cloud services era with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, edge computing and big data.”
Vitagliano—one of only a handful of technology executives who have been inducted into the IT Hall of Fame that has honored industry titans like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer—said his 100-day game plan is to “spend a lot of time listening” to distribution technology council members, vendors and partners.
“I am going to spend a lot of time with the key constituents to understand what we need to do to move forward,” he said. “I want to understand what is going on with distributors, vendors and solution providers and what are the types of services we need in the future.”
Vitagliano, who as an IBM channel chief backed a highly charged economic analysis that showed the value of distribution in the midst of the rise of direct market PC era, said he has seen distribution continually prove its mettle even when some in the IT industry were questioning its ability to evolve in a technology market moving at blinding speed.
“Over the years, we have heard numerous times that distribution was going to be disintermediated by PC direct marketers, cloud service providers and even vendor direct programs,” he said. “Through all of that, distribution has continued to grow dramatically and thrive. Now there is no question or debate about the value distribution supplies in the marketplace. But it’s important to make sure people continue to understand that, particularly folks that are new to the industry.”
In fact, Vitagliano said one of the most important roles he sees for the GTDC is continuing to drive the “awareness” of distribution as a driver of new-era IT services and solutions. “I want to make sure we are doing everything possible to articulate the value and ongoing importance of distribution in the IT supply chain moving forward,” he said. “As distribution continues to evolve, it is really important for everybody to be aware of what a difference distribution is making in the digital transformation era. That has to be done in the context of where the market is going, not where it has been. Education, training and support of all the players in the supply chain is critical.”
Vitagliano said he is confident that technology distribution—which emerged at the dawn of the PC era in the early ’80s—will continue to be integral to the delivery of IT solutions and services in the future. “As services and solutions become increasingly complex with IoT, edge, AI, security and big data, more support capabilities will be needed in the supply chain,” he said. “Distribution has the ability to provide that level of support.”
Ultimately, Vitagliano said he sees his role as making sure distribution remains “vital” to vendors, solution providers and even solution provider customers. “What distributors are doing today is as good or better than it has ever been in terms of their capabilities, articulating the value of their capabilities and support. The relationships are outstanding,” he said. “That said, I think we need to continue to evolve and make sure everyone is aware of and knowledgeable about what distribution can provide to the industry.”