Jim Kavanaugh: WWT's Biggest Bets On Cisco, Dell And Tech Trends
by Mark Haranas
Jim Kavanaugh: Here's Where WWT Is Investing To Drive Growth
Industry legend Jim Kavanaugh has built World Wide Technology into a $14 billion solution provider powerhouse by knowing where to place WWT's technology bets and investments in the ever-changing IT landscape.
"We all need to be thinking about how we disrupt our own business to make sure that we're continuing to not become complacent," said WWT CEO Kavanaugh in an interview with CRN. "Because the market and what the customers want continues to evolve at a fairly rapid rate."
The St. Louis-based global IT giant has been consistently growing sales and its now 8,000-strong employee head count over the past several years as customers of all shapes and sizes rely on WWT for critical IT and digital transformation needs.
The opportunity for WWT is bigger than ever as enterprises are being challenged by IT complexity in the new hybrid, multi-cloud world.
"The challenges that the customers are dealing with [are] around how do they evaluate and assess the onslaught, the never-ending barrage of technology coming at them. And the need to do this as efficiently and effectively as possible to really transform their business into this new digital world--that's the opportunity in front of us both domestically and globally," said Kavanaugh.
World Wide Technology is one of the largest channel partners of IT titans such as Dell Technologies, Cisco Systems and VMware, to name a few.
Kavanaugh On Michael Dell And Chuck Robbins
Kavanaugh is placing major bets on partners like Cisco and Dell, in part due to the company's leaders in Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell and Cisco Chair and CEO Chuck Robbins.
"Chuck has been an employee there for 20-plus years and a CEO for seven years now. Obviously, he's got his hands full with a lot of things going on, but I think Chuck has done a really good job continuing to reinvent Cisco and move them into specific areas that are complementary to their core, which is networking," said Kavanaugh.
WWT's CEO touted Michael Dell as a "brilliant entrepreneur, innovator and leader," all wrapped into one. "He has no need financially to be working, obviously, but he has a passion for what he's doing," he said.
How big is WWT's investment in Cisco right now and why?
Cisco has done a good job bringing new product to bear, relative to their core, that they've got great demand for. We've seen really good growth with Cisco.
So a lot of things that they're doing in regard to their core, but then [they are] adding to it via acquisitions that they've made in regard to new analytics and being able to bring a more robust capability of solutions to the market.
[Cisco CEO] Chuck Robbins has been an employee there for 20-plus years and a CEO for seven years now. Obviously, he's got his hands full with a lot of things going on, but I think Chuck has done a really good job continuing to reinvent Cisco and move them into specific areas that are complementary to their core, which is networking.
The biggest challenge Chuck has at this point is supply chain issues, which he's working on feverishly. But overall, in regard to also moving to not only hardware but more of a recurring revenue-type of stream around software-- that's been a big focus.
Obviously, there are areas of a lot of competition.
If you look at voice video relative to Zoom, and different things that have happened in the market, there's a lot of disruption happening. We'll see how that all plays out, but overall we've seen really strong growth with Cisco.
Our Cisco backlog is very strong, and the activity is very strong. So we don't see that changing.
I know Chuck continues to look at different ways to continue to build out their core, but also to add to that as they continue to have had very good success over the last seven years since he's been in the position. … Cisco is our largest partner and we continue to invest and grow collaboratively with Cisco in a significant way.
How important is Dell Technologies to WWT and why?
[Dell CEO] Michael Dell is just a fascinating individual on so many different fronts. I mean, he's done so many things with Dell in just transforming the business from where it was when it originally started, then becoming a private company, a public company, private company, etc. and the acquisition of EMC and VMware.
A lot of the things that Dell continues to do to invest in the business and grow with a broad base of infrastructure-type capabilities are continuing to expand and include opportunities around cloud, around driving edge capabilities, are pretty fascinating.
Michael is just a very brilliant entrepreneur, innovator and leader all kind of wrapped up into one, which is pretty unique. He has no need financially to be working, obviously, but he has a passion for what he's doing. So they continue to do well.
At the end of the day, that's what you need in those positions. Because the market is changing very quickly.
We all need to be thinking about how we disrupt our own business to make sure that we're continuing to not become complacent. Because the market and what the customers want continues to evolve at a fairly rapid rate.
Dell has done very well. We'll continue to partner very closely with [Dell] as we move forward.
What is one big investment for WWT in 2022 to increase sales?
If you look at helping customers design and build out their IT infrastructure--it's very much a hybrid environment today. So what's being done on-premises, what's being done in the cloud, what's being done at the edge, and how all that works--has not made life any easier for CIOs and CTOs to evaluate and figure out what's the best and optimal solution for them.
So we've also invested significantly in our services practice, which is a really a doubling and tripling down of our investments in there.
And that covers a broad spectrum of everything from management consulting at a very high level, to bringing on the Accenture- and Bain Consulting-type individuals, to big data scientists around AI and machine learning. Also [we have] our cloud practice and cloud experts, both from an advisory and technical perspective. For cyber, we have a general IT infrastructure but also a blended approach around strategic resourcing.
We believe in providing optimal solutions for customers.