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Pinnacle ICT unpacks future plans

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Pinnacle ICT CEO Tim Humphreys-Davies.
Pinnacle ICT CEO Tim Humphreys-Davies.

Pinnacle ICT is focusing on building skillsets and capabilities, as well as looking for new ways to enable SA's channel.

This was revealed by CEO Tim Humphreys-Davies, during his keynote address at Pinnacle ICT's Techscape event in Mauritius last week, which coincided with Pinnacle's 25th anniversary.

There has been a huge shift in how the channel manages its finances, he said.

"It's been quite difficult. We've had a few major constraints. There has been an increasingly conservative approach from the underwriters; they have zero appetite for risk at the moment. Underwriters took a hit in 2017 as it was a financially difficult year. We don't get credit unless we can provide full audited financial statements. The current credit constraints in our industry have caused a major shift, and we all know, if you can't get credit, you can't do business."

Moreover, he said Pinnacle ICT is seeing a lot of vendors pulling back from being direct. "This is good for us, but difficult for some of our partners, so what can we do about it?"

Pinnacle ICT is adopting a more holistic approach, by understanding the customer, their needs, the technology, as well as the current business environment to maximise success. He pointed out it's about being flexible.

"If one of our customers has a complex project, we can provide finance. It's really about a shift in mindset."

He cited the example of device-as-a-service, enterprise-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service solutions. "All of our partners are doing it already, but that means their opex model is now slightly different. If a customer wants to buy a million-rand server, but can't afford the purchase until the money starts kicking in six months later, we can talk about it."

Key skillsets, capabilities

Humphreys-Davies also highlighted the company's recent strong focus on improving key vendor skillsets and capabilities. For example, he said the company has earned 198 certifications from Huawei and 110 from Dell across its staff set.

"We only have 10 for Hewlett Packard Enterprise at the moment as it's a new product for us, but we are definitely gaining traction in that space too," he added.

"In our verticals division, including Pinnsec and the Datanet stack, we have been pumping more capability into our pre-sales. We have a highly capable pre-sales team both in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

"We do a lot of break fix, a fee-for-service method of providing IT services to customers. We also do rack and stack, in which resellers order products from us (servers and storage equipment), which are integrated onto a rack or cabinet for data centre deployment. They tell us where they want it, we rack, we stack, invoice them, and they invoice their customer."

Onboarding more solutions

Humphreys-Davies said Pinnacle ICT has not traditionally been strong in the software stack and the data centre, but is beginning to see some traction with several solutions, and is having to onboard more software solutions for the data centre to meet the demand.

"Going forward, our plan is to onboard more for the edge as well, but slowly and surely. The challenge for any distributor is that if you take on too much, too quickly, you end up doing things poorly, so slow and steady wins the race."

He also discussed the disruption Pinnacle ICT has been seeing. "We are seeing many new software vendors, particularly in the hyper-convergence space. Vendor alignments are happening faster and faster, across the various compute and vendor stacks, and there is definitely an opportunity there. An example of this would be the partnership between Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Nutanix, a solution that we are offering."

He noted the changes and disruption over the past few years have been difficult for both resellers and distributors.

"It's difficult for us to predict what's going to happen, because we don't always get insight into it. This goes back to my earlier point about trying to skill up in different areas, to always be prepared. We have to look for new and different opportunities too."

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