Intel adapts channel play for new partners

The Intel logo on a black background next to Intel components
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has announced a number of changes to its channel programme in an effort to engage with more IT resellers.

Intel’s director of membership sales, reseller channel operations EMEA, Richard Peel, says changes to the firm’s partner rewards system – as well as other tweaks to its programme – reflect a growing realisation that the chip maker’s channel is no longer comprised solely of integrators building PCs.

“The environment’s changed over the last three to five years, and as far as the desktop’s concerned, there are less and less companies out there building their own systems and selling them under their own brand,” he explains.

“We’re trying to tailor our benefits sets and engagement with the reseller more and more, beyond the traditional integrator.”

Adds the exec (pictured): “There’s still a traditional base of integrators who also resell – you can’t integrate everything. But I’d say the makeup these days is 70/30; seventy percent are still doing some level of integration – whether its servers or their own high end desktop – and the other 30 percent are pure system resellers.”

Speaking exclusively to Channel Pro at the Intel Solution Summit, Peel said the firm was “trying really hard to have that commercial conversation with them, rather than bits and bytes.

“We’ve woken up to the fact that if we want to influence the Intel technology part of the conversation – even with a purist reseller who’s decided he’s going to source from Hewlett Packard, Dell, whoever – we [need to] have value in the conversation… We’re not trying to sell you a particular box; we’re trying to talk to you about the benefits of technology.”

New points scheme

At the event Peel – who looks after the Intel Technology Provider (ITP) programme – announced Intel had “killed off” the Flex+ points rewards scheme. Known now simply as ‘points’, the firm has re-valued its currency whereby partners can earn ten times the number of points.

“It’s not a slight of hand; we’re not trying to fiddle you out of something. Actually it’s the reverse of that,” says Peel.

“We were finding that we wanted to apply points for lower-value products but we couldn’t without saying, ‘you can have .2 of a point or .5 of a point’. So we thought a smarter move would be to re-value everything by 10, and then we can give smaller value points of lesser-value products. It means [partners] can earn more points across a broader range of products.”

Up to now Intel has offered points on Core i3 products and above. However under the new arrangement, the vendor says it could potentially offer points on a broader range of Intel-based machines, such as Atom-based products.

Easier access to products

Elsewhere, the firm is trying to make more products accessible to the channel. It is rolling out a scheme this quarter where the vendor gets access to “primarily Eastern manufactured” products that have previously only been available to order in massive quantities.

“We’re investing in those products by buying them ourselves and filling up distribution so [they] can provide smaller quantities to resellers to purchase, so they can get into the market more quickly,” says Peel.

As such, resellers can purchase just one or two units through traditional distribution. “It’s an attempt to give as much love and attention to the guy who buys 100 units or buys ten,” comments Sam Bellamy, director, sales & distribution for Intel’s EMEA reseller channel organisation.

The firm is currently trying to “sign as many distributors as possible,” with Ingram Micro and Tech Data already having on board.

All about devices

In the UK Intel has around 1000 ITP partners, including 25 Platinum and 375 Gold partners.

Intel maintained its focus on the ultrabook during the event in Dublin (with a fourth-generation launch scheduled for later this year), as well as talking up about the opportunities around tablets and smartphones, highlighting its investment in touch, voice controls and facial recognition technology.

According to Paul Reitze, director of technical sales and architecture enabling, worldwide consumer channels group at Intel, despite the PC refresh cycle slowing down, there are still 500m PCs over four years old worldwide. The exec said Intel “wanted to get [customers] excited to refresh their PC” by adding innovative new features like touch and voice.

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.