By Greg Baur
Responding to ever-changing partner needs during a global pandemic requires companies like Intel to be creative…and quickly.
I’d like to share some of my reflections. Here’s what it takes to support partners and the community through Intel’s Pandemic Response Technology Initiative and Channel Relief and Support Program, and in a business environment that’s changing daily.
Early warning signs
When troubling news started coming out of China about a virus earlier this year, and as the scale of the outbreak accelerated and started making headlines in countries around the world, our partners wanted to know what we were hearing.
What our partners wanted was reliable, up-to-date information. They knew our wide network of customers and industries and our global outlook could provide the insights they needed.
Even before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, businesses around the world started to face local lockdown orders, causing work-from-home mandates to be handed down quickly. Our partners were dealing with how to get everyone set up to work remotely. They were also looking for help to deliver secure networks with adequate bandwidth to keep people connected.
Once again, information was the most valuable resource to our partners. They were looking for best practices for transitioning their workforce to work at home to keep their people safe.
What’s interesting now as I look back at our evolving response is that, although managing cash flow is top-of-mind today for many businesses, it wasn’t the first concern they shared with us. The first thing they needed was reliable information and best practices to help protect the health of their people. They also wanted best-known methods to secure remote workplaces for both their own operations and the operations of their end customers.
The next area of support was helping partners figure out how to properly run their businesses and manage their supply chains. We helped them tap into our supply-chain expertise with best practices developed in our “supply chain war room,” which was at the cornerstone of our pandemic response.
For example, we deployed a rapid mobilization program and used our cross-company expertise to expedite creative solutions for our providers. Communication was a cornerstone of the effort, both internally with global experts and externally with partners and suppliers. That helped to ensure all our efforts were coordinated.
Coping with mountains — and cliffs
Within a few more weeks, we started to see more businesses impacted. Some of our partners faced a mountain, while others saw a cliff.
With work-from-home orders skyrocketing, partners in the client business needed to get a remote workforce geared up and operating fast. Also, server and networking hardware was urgently needed to support increasing end-user demands. To respond, Intel needed to spin up our supply chain and adjust inventory to support our partners facing that mountain.
While some partners were struggling to keep up with demand, others were seeing some big valleys ahead for their business and cash flow. Our Channel Relief and Support Program was designed to help a broad cross section of partner concerns.
That includes warranty relief and programs to ensure that while sales were being impacted, membership levels were protected and costs were minimized with additional Intel Technology Provider Points offers. We also continued to provide marketing and sales support.
An unprecedented global situation such as COVID-19 requires creativity, innovation and quick decision-making. That’s how we’ll combat the virus, keep people healthy and safe, and ensure students can continue to learn.
Intel’s $50 million Pandemic Response Technology Initiative was created to accelerate access to technology at the point of patient care, speed scientific research, and help students and teachers access online learning.
I have no doubt that our partners will be instrumental in finding solutions to the problems brought to light during the pandemic. As those solutions take shape and are ready to scale, the Intel Solutions Marketplace will help partners make connections on a global basis.
The light ahead
For businesses still in the thick of the shutdowns, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many companies are wondering what the business environment will be like when economies reopen.
While no one can know what the future holds, we can share what we’re seeing around the world. Here’s the good news: As businesses reopen, we’re seeing many companies return to a stronger financial footing.
Looking ahead, we see the client business continuing to be very strong. Companies that can operate with some level of work-from-home status will see a quicker return to “normal.” But where working remotely is not possible, the impact will take longer. Research is also showing that a large percentage of companies will continue work-from-home programs even after lockdowns are lifted.
While we’re all looking forward to getting “back to normal,” we need to realize that normal does not mean what it was before.
The pandemic has changed everything from working at home to healthcare, industrial operations and retail. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how we communicate, work and interact.
We are so interconnected. That’s why we need to support each other. Together, we can survive in the short term and thrive over the longer term.
Stay safe. And stay connected. #iamintel
Learn more: Intel COVID-19 Response and Support Hub
About the author: Greg Baur is a VP and general manager of global scale and partner programs at Intel.