VIDEO: Top IT Trends for 2015

[http://avnet.me/58920]

 

Want to know what technology trends are at the top of my list for 2015? Click the link or screenshot above to find out.   

In this short video, I outline the four IT technology trends I’ll be focused this coming year, along with how we plan to address them here at Avnet.

We’ll be discussing these four in greater detail in my Tech Trends video series and here on this blog throughout 2015, so be sure to click HERE to have the latest posts sent directly to your inbox or RSS reader.

- Steve

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IT Best Practices: Commission and Rebate Automation

IT best practices: commission rebate incentive automation

Sales commissions and back-end rebates for hitting performance targets are critical components of any distribution channel sales program.

We’ve had some recent success automating this highly manual activity at Avnet, so I’ve asked Ger Purcell, senior vice president of IT for Avnet’s Technology Solutions business and a member of my Impact Team, to contribute a guest post on the subject.

Performance-based incentives (commissions and rebates) are quite common in the technology channel, based on their ability to align the efforts of the Avnet sales teams with the manufacturer’s own sales goals.

NAVIGATING THE INCENTIVES MAZE

Ger Purcell, Avnet, Inc.

Ger Purcell | senior vice president of IT Avnet Technology Solutions

However, managing the incentives process—actually identifying, promoting, documenting and ultimately collecting and distributing the incentives—required a massive, highly manual effort on the manufacturer’s side as well as Avnet’s.

In our Technology Solutions Americas business alone, this included:

  • A commissions program in involved 800 employees on 26 different payment plans that changed at least monthly.
  • 200 rebates programs that change frequently according to complex rules delivered through a number of manufacturer-specific tools.

IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT PLATFORM

To help us automate this process, we partnered with Vistex to provide the incentives platform that would support the administration, financial, and settlement processing aspects of the process.

Vistex also had the ability to connect directly to Avnet’s ERP system where much of our incentives data was held.

72,000 BUSINESS RULES

Integrating the platform was a critical aspect of the project, but establishing the rules engine was a much larger piece of the puzzle.

The IT team sat down with the Americas business representatives to identify, document and code all the various incentive conditions the tool needed to track…more than 72,000 rules in all.

FOUR KEY BENEFITS

After more than 6,000 hours of coding and 1,000 hours of testing to ensure every dime was tracked and accounted for, the system was rolled out to all Americas employees. Since then:

  1. The sales teams have moved from quarterly to monthly goals, due to the enhanced speed and visibility.
  2. The number of commission plans has been reduced from 26 to five, based on the increased accuracy of the system.
  3. The business is able to track hundreds of millions of available rebate dollars in real time. This in turn gives us the ability to alert our reseller customers about potential rebates they might otherwise overlook.
  4. Avnet is able to provide more accurate demand forecasting to manufacturers and suppliers, increasing the unique value we can offer them from our position at the center of the technology supply chain.

While the commitment to a project of this size was great, the return has been far greater.

Not only is Avnet able to deliver value to customers and suppliers that wasn’t possible under the previous system, but countless hours of bureaucracy have been eliminated in the process.

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VIDEO: How to Sell to the CIO

[http://avnet.me/16675]

Click to learn how to sell to the CIO

A lot has been written and said about the “secrets of selling to CIOs” but it’s often from the salesperson’s perspective. So I thought I’d share my own views on how (and how not) to sell to IT executives effectively.

Here are nine tips—five Do’s and four Dont’s—that can help anyone get, and keep, the attention of a busy IT executive.

CLICK HERE or on the screenshot above to view this brief 4:00 video.

- Steve

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Giants in the Cloud: How Enterprise Uses Cloud Computing

The editors at CIO Magazine, Computerworld and Network World recently did something I’ve not seen done before in the IT industry press: the three publications collaborated to create and co-publish a comprehensive series of articles on how some of America’s largest companies are implementing cloud computing in their businesses today.

Fittingly enough, they called this package of articles “Giants in the Cloud.” We at Avnet were honored to have been included among the 17 companies interviewed for the series.

I took the liberty of collecting excerpts from the articles where we were able to share some of our insights below, but don’t just take our word for it. I recommend the full series to any company looking for guidance on how (and how not) to implement the cloud today.

From “How Giant Companies See the Cloud
16 large enterprises talk about their use of the cloud, their plans, challenges they’ve run into and how they’re approaching the skills issues

Avnet, a $27 billion distributor of electronic components, runs a hybrid cloud environment. The company has been building a private cloud internally since the early 2000s, while its public cloud usage, which is primarily limited to SaaS, began in 2008. Its biggest rollout, a pilot of Microsoft Office 365, is just getting underway.

Avnet is open to wider use of public cloud services…and IT has identified three scenarios where it makes sense for the company: to provide functionality that’s not a core competency for IT and wouldn’t sacrifice competitive advantage; when there’s a need to implement quickly and a cloud offering can reduce risk and capital expense; and when a short lifespan is expected.

From “13 Tips to Achieve Cloud Success
Seventeen CIOs and IT leaders shared lesson learned on cloud deployment, use, skills and more.

Have an exit plan. “Make sure you get a prenup in place”…The relationship might be great when you sign the contract, but make sure the contract addresses separation in the future…

Avoid customization. “Before you sign that dotted line, you really need to understand that software and how it will work in your environment”….

From “CIOs Face Cloud Computing Challenges, Pitfalls
What’s the hardest part about migrating to the cloud? Giants talk security, vendor lock-in, shadow IT and other common challenges

Shadow IT is less challenging than it was a few years ago, when cloud vendors would pitch that customers could be up and running without involving IT…. Today Avnet’s IT group is more in step with the business. When business units want new tech, they will talk to IT first…

Avnet has found ways to relinquish some control without sacrificing security. If a cloud solution is easy to use and configure, Avnet will turn that over to a business group. Workday, for instance, is a clearly controlled environment, but HR primarily manages it…“We don’t need to be in the middle of that, if the tool is intuitive enough and secure enough.”

Still, rogue cloud purchases remain a concern. “Shadow IT these days is only a credit card swipe away”…

From “CIOs Share Must-Have Cloud Skills
Cloud computing prompts IT organizations to rethink how they acquire talent and develop skills.

Avnet’s approach has been to train current employees on new cloud technologies…leverag[ing] those employees’ institutional knowledge.

To help staff transition to cloud-friendly skills, Avnet holds technology days, followed by job shadowing, so IT workers can spend a day or two learning about a specific technology.

Congratulations to the editorial teams at these three publications for developing such an ambitious and comprehensive look at the state of cloud computing in large organizations today.

- Steve

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IT Best Practices: Enterprise Data Deduplication & Backup

Brad Kenney | Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure | Avnet, Inc.

Organizations of all sizes are coping with exponential increases in their data storage and backup needs. So I’ve asked Brad Kenney, Avnet’s vice president of Enterprise Infrastructure and a member of my Impact Team, to spotlight one of Avnet’s recent award-winning successes in this area.

Steve has talked about Avnet’s effort to scale our data storage capabilities to handle a petabyte or more of data, but storage is only one part of the equation. Our backup and disaster recovery capabilities also needed to keep pace as Avnet’s data needs have grown from 250 terabytes in 2010 to more than 1.5 petabytes in 2014.

DEDUPLICATION OF THE DATA CENTER

Avnet initially implemented EMC’s Data Domain solution in 2012 to handle the de-duplication of files located on the thousands of Avnet PCs deployed globally. But in order to reap the full benefits across the enterprise, we had to extend that de-duplication and compression capability to include our data center’s storage area network and more than 1,700 servers.

RESULTS & BOTTLENECKS

Implementing Data Domain in the data center ultimately reduced the amount of information Avnet needs to maintain and secure by 92%—a massive improvement. But de-duplication and compression consumes a great deal of processing power, and as the volume of data grew, this placed a significant burden on the data center’s infrastructure that handles more than one million batch jobs each month.

BOOSTING AVNET’S ORACLE INFRASTRUCTURE

To address this critical constraint, Avnet sought out the aid of EMC’s Data Domain Boost. Boost is a software solution designed to work in concert with Data Domain to help reduce bandwidth constraints due to de-duping and compression activity.

Boost limits the de-dupe and compression activity to just the target server affected, removing a great deal of related traffic from the company backbone. At the time, however, Data Domain Boost hadn’t been deployed on an Oracle/AIX infrastructure like Avnet’s before.

So we worked closely with EMC in the initial testing to deploy Data Domain Boost on an Oracle platform, with the goal of integrating it into our backup environment once it was available. As a result, Avnet was one of the first companies to use Data Domain Boost in an Oracle environment.

While this testing was taking place, Avnet also upgraded the backbone to a 10 gigabyte network and Fibre Channel infrastructure, greatly increasing the available throughput.

SPEED & AGILITY

The combination of greater throughput and lower bandwidth needs reduced our backup times by 10X, increasing speeds from 100MB/s to 8 GB/s in some instances.

The increased bandwidth and decreased data footprint also give Avnet the ability to restore any of our databases in six hours or less, significantly improving our business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities.

Congratulations to everyone at Avnet who was involved in this two-year overhaul of our data backup, deduplication, storage and disaster recovery platforms. Because of their award-winning efforts, Avnet is poised to handle the exponential growth in data that we’ve experienced for many years to come.

- Brad

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