Intel Sees Opportunity and Simplicity Ahead for 2019
The chipmaker will lean on new PC and server processors, new IoT solution bundles, and a newly streamlined partner organization to fuel partner success this year, according to North American channel executive Todd Garrigues (pictured).
Ignore the analysts. According to Intel, at least, 2018 was a strong year financially with more of the same to come.
“In general, it was a very good year for us,” says Todd Garrigues, Intel’s director of North American partner sales programs. “I’m very excited for the opportunities in 2019.”
Garrigues spoke with ChannelPro about the year just finished and the new year ahead last week on a day when Intel’s stock plunged some 5 percent after the company reported fourth quarter revenue and future guidance below Wall Street projections. Yet investor expectations aside, Intel’s latest numbers look pretty strong. Revenue for the company’s PC business rose 10 percent in Q4 and 9 percent during the fiscal year. The data center business, moreover, added 9 percent to the top line in Q4 and 21 percent across 2018.
“In the fourth quarter, Intel achieved revenue growth in nearly every business segment, and in 2018 every segment of the business set new annual all-time revenue records,” the company wrote in a press release.
Garrigues, not surprisingly, is similarly upbeat about Intel’s current performance. “I’m very excited for our partners around the strength of business that we’ve seen recently,” he says. “Across almost every area of business that our partners are engaged in, I think we saw a very, very strong year.”
2019, he continues, looks to be just as good. “We have an incredible technology roadmap,” he says.
On the client computing side of the house, that roadmap is dominated by the company’s recently released 9th Generation Intel Core processors and the forthcoming 10nm “Ice Lake” platform, which is slated to appear in new PCs in time for this year’s holiday shopping season. Garrigues expects the greater performance, manageability, and security of those products to drive increased upgrades by both consumer and commercial buyers, especially in the premium hardware segment.
“I think there’s tremendous opportunity around PC refresh,” he says.
New server processors, like the “Cascade Lake” family of Xeon Scalable chips Intel showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, will provide additional opportunity in the data center, Garrigues continues, as will accelerated uptake of Intel’s Optane storage and memory products. Launched in 2017 and based on Intel’s 3D XPoint architecture, Optane offerings are designed to be faster but more expensive than traditional NAND-based SSDs and slower but cheaper than DRAM.
“It’s still early on Optane,” Garrigues says. “There is some work involved to optimize it, but when optimized it will be a gamechanger and a very big deal for us.”
Revenue for Intel’s IoT business group, meanwhile, climbed 9 percent last year, and Garrigues sees even faster growth on the horizon. “The number of IoT deployments is growing rapidly,” he says. “The number of use cases and the capabilities continue to expand.”
Intel has two efforts underway to increase and sustain that momentum. The first focuses on partner education.
“IoT’s a wonderful market, worlds of opportunity, big growth segment for Intel, but having a conversation at a very high level around IoT may or may not be useful for a partner who’s struggling to really grow or expand their business,” Garrigues notes. As a result, he continues, Intel will continue rolling out case studies, deployment guides, and other resources designed to provide actionable advice on specific solution opportunities in top vertical industries.
In addition, Intel will continue augmenting its collections of IoT RFP Ready Kits and IoT Market Ready Solutions, pre-packaged hardware/software/support combinations in areas like smart lighting, smart digital signage, and intelligent warehouse management. “The goal is to continue identifying these Market Ready Solutions that are scalable and replicable, and to continue making it easier for new partners in that space to engage and be able to offer new solutions to their customers,” Garrigues says.
“IoT has been a journey for a lot of us,” he adds. “It isn’t simple, but our goal is to continue making it easier and more approachable for our partners.”
Simplification remains an ongoing priority for Intel’s partner program. Last year, the company combined formerly separate communities for OEMs, system builders, and system integrators, among others, into one big unified organization served by one big annual partner conference called Partner Connect.
“Our goal was to help create better collaboration, better efficiency, internally so that we were delivering more externally, and try to help at the same time find more opportunity for our partners along the way,” Garrigues says. Those remain top objectives for his group this year.
Sharing information with partners will be another point of emphasis. Intel expanded its channel advisory boards in 2018 to get more input from its top partners, and according to Garrigues members lobbied hard for clearer and more frequent information on everything from new products and sales programs to supply chain issues. “We got some strong feedback on communication,” Garrigues says. “[We’re] trying to evolve and be as transparent as possible.”
The company will strive to be as fast as possible too in its reporting on orders, support issues, partner program status, and related matters, he adds. “[Being] real time is very challenging in a broad partner community, but it is absolutely a focus for us,” Garrigues says.
And not the only one. Garrigues and his team have a lot on their plates for 2019. “We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us,” he says, “but I do think it’ll be a very good year.”
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