When was the last time you spoke to a distribution salesperson? Was the experience helpful? Hopefully that interaction aided you in advancing your project in a meaningful way. If not, let me talk about where we are headed at Avnet Inc. (NYSE: AVT), in an effort to help you. Consider it Distribution Sales 2.0, if you will.
Your needs have evolved in ways that we couldn't imagine just a few years ago. Long gone are the days of the "simple" choice from a limited set of devices to solve your problem. Your design issues can be solved with myriad technologies, including FPGAs, embedded processors, or complete embedded subsystems, among many others.
In response, distribution has evolved a multitude of services and solutions to aid in solving your changing needs. In the early days, we employed factory trained and supported field application engineers (FAEs) to support the discrete technologies that were on our respective line cards. This, in turn, led to complete turnkey design services in the areas of FPGA and ASIC. Later, we began to offer services that complemented the development and evaluation boards that our supplier partners provided, giving our customers a head start on their system designs.
Today, many customers are leveraging complete subsystems, both x86- and ARM-based, to begin their designs while at the same time leveraging their software and hardware expertise to complete their solution. Distribution has added hardware integration and software capabilities, combined with classic component heritage, to answer the needs of a broad customer base that leverages these types of solutions.
In fact, our supplier and customer diversity has driven us to make the needed investment in many areas, and exit those services that are no longer of high value to our stakeholders. Over the last five years, design diversity has exploded, no single type of design accounts for more than 7 percent of our program activity. That number is actually misleading as well: no two designs, even those solving similar problems, are ever alike. Our customers' talent and appetite for innovation seems to be boundless.
We serve a broad customer base with a diversity of designs. Every design has multiple avenues for implementation. We partner with suppliers who provide a broad array of solutions. At the same time distribution is offering an increasing variety of solutions to meet those needs. How do we effectively marry your needs to our suppliers' technology and our services?
This leads me back to where we began. What was your last experience with a salesperson from distribution? Let me describe how I hope it went, and if not, what you will see in the not too distant future. Our sales team's role is first and foremost to understand what you are trying to accomplish, or in simpler terms -- to listen. We don't have the audacity to believe that we know more about your needs than you do. Our goal at this point is to discover your needs, from the simple to the complicated; and take them back to our vast array of resources -- so we can provide you with the information and potential services that help you meet your goals.
Think about your latest design. Will one of our FAEs be able to support your component design needs? Perhaps nothing in the market today does what you need, and access to a not-yet-public technology may be just the ticket. Do we need to leverage an internal specialist (RF, software, FPGA, etc.) to help? Or maybe you need one of our system engineers to develop and specify a complete server solution. What type of supply chain services will help you bring your program to market in the most efficient way possible?
All of these capabilities and many more are available through your salesperson. Our investments in our engineering staff and technical capabilities are well documented, if not always the first thing that comes to your mind. We make a major investment in our sales teams -- they are pivot point for your design needs and the solutions that we can provide to our customer community. They receive training year-round in the key areas of interest to our design community, like power, processing and storage. The goal of that training is not meant to make them experts, but instead meant to make them better partners to you. Can they understand your goals and rally the necessary resources to make you a raving success?
Hopefully, you have experienced the same evolution in our sales approach along with our services and capabilities over the years. It's a journey to support you, and one we take seriously. Of course, it only works if we are listening to you. Let me know how we are doing.