Intel has unleashed a "comprehensive" relief package meant to help its large network of channel partners get through the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The company announced the series of measures Monday, giving partners ways to lower business costs, navigate supply chain issues and maintain their tier level in the Intel Technology Provider program, which is being retooled into the Intel Partner Alliance later this year.
The partner relief efforts were announced ahead of the Intel Partner Connect conference in the Americas, which the company plans to hold as a digital event May 20-21.
In an interview with CRN, Greg Baur, Intel's vice president of global scale and partners, said the partner relief package amounts to an all out charge by the chip behemoth to “help our partners get through this COVID-19 situation."
The relief effort goes beyond previously announced plans by aiding the businesses of the countless value-added resellers, system integrators and managed services providers who sell and support Intel's wide variety of products, said Baur.
"We put our experts together internally and said, 'hey, what can we do to help our partner network survive through this?'" he said.
At the top of the list: Intel is expanding the period in which they measure a partner's sales activity to determine the partner's tier level for the new Intel Partner Alliance program, which can help partners maintain the status and benefits they have held in previous years.
Instead of looking at the last 12 months of sales, Intel has expanded its measurement period to 18 months, which will cover sales from the beginning of 2019 to the middle of 2020, Baur said. This means partners will have a better chance of keeping their Gold or Platinum tiers in case their business takes a hit this year due to the pandemic, he added.
"We got requests from some partners saying, 'hey, the first half of the year is going to be much different because we're going through this COVID-19 period. Can you instead just measure us on the 2019 calendar year?'" Baur said.
Intel is also allowing partners to use points in the Intel Technology Provider program that expired in March for an additional 90 days. The company is also giving partners a 10 percent discount on product vouchers redeemed with points that they can use for an unlimited amount of times through the end of June.
Baur said partners can use the vouchers to redeem a wide range of products for reselling or other purposes. With the 10 percent discount, a US$50 voucher that would typically cost 560 points will now cost 504 points, allowing partners to effectively stretch the value of their points and save money.
"A lot of those points are used exclusively to buy additional Intel products," he said. "That's a real tangible thing that we can do to help [alleviate] partners of the cash constraints they have."
Dominic Daninger, vice president of engineering at Nor-Tech, an Intel system integration partner, said his company has used Intel points to redeem products for internal servers as well as server deployments for customers. "If you don't pay attention to it, you're leaving a lot of money on the table," he said.
Intel's new relief efforts are a continuation of the strong support partner companies like his have received over the years, said Daninger. “We've got some people that really go to bat for us at Intel, and it's helped us in a lot of different ways,” he said, “so they're a great, great vendor for us.”
Beyond the expanded use of points, Intel is helping partners lower costs by covering shipping for defective product returns in the company's standard warranty replacement program, which covers a range of products, from processors and server boards to SSDs and network cards.
Other parts of the relief package include a dedicated assistance hotline for Gold and Platinum partners, an expanded shipping time frame for defective products in Intel's advanced warranty replacement program, access to marketing and training materials for supporting business continuity and home office environments, and access to Intel's supply chain experts.
Baur said Intel's supply chain experts can help partners with things like freight and getting shipments through customers, among other supply chain issues.
"A lot of our channel partners don't have access to the same level of resources that we do as a big company," he said. "Partners that are typically used to dealing in a country or city environment that need to broaden, we can help them with that."
These details and more are provided in Intel's new COVID-19 Partner Response Webpage that will offer the latest updates, including blog posts, videos and partner success stories.