Sources told CRN that an executive shakeup that left Intel with a new head of sales and marketing would be positive for the channel, especially as the company looks to align its partners with future strategic areas of focus.
In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing posted this week, Intel said Michelle Johnston Holthaus would replace Greg Pearson as the new head of the Sales and Marketing Group, effective Sept. 6.
"Michelle is a longtime Intel veteran who has always been close to the channel … we see the channel strategy continuing to be stable under her leadership," said one Intel executive, who wished to remain anonymous. "This won't lead to any negative changes in the channel space … It's a positive thing."
Pearson, who has been the senior vice president and general manager of Intel's sales and marketing group since 2013, will "remain on the company's management committee and is expected to take on a new role with the company, which will be announced at a later date," according to the filing.
Over the past year, Intel has looked to focus on new technologies, such as the Internet of Things and 5G - and Pearson has played a critical role in creating flexible platforms to help the channel adapt and innovate.
"When it comes to the channel, we're aware our Intel Technology Provider program members have a wide breadth of expertise and serve customers in areas that range from data center, memory technology, and cloud," Pearson said in an interview with CRN in May. "No one knows their business better than our channel partners so, as it has been in the past, we'll continue our strategy of enablement."
Partners hope that the new channel leadership will result in better communication between Intel and its channel, particularly as the company looks for ways to help its partners find new business opportunities in hot new technology areas.
"I hope that moving forward, Intel's sales team can maintain consistency between their new areas of focus – like IoT – and their support for the channel in these areas," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, a Marlboro, N.J.-based solution provider.
Incoming sales leader Holthaus has an extensive history with the channel, serving in positions including general manager of the channel for Central Marketing and Operations, as well as the general manager for the Channel Mobile Product Group and general manager of the Channel Desktop Products Group.
Holthaus has worked at Intel since 2003 in several channel-related positions, most recently as the company's vice president and general manager of sales and marketing for the Client Computing Group. In 2014, Holthaus was listed as one of CRN's Power 100 executives in the Women of the Channel list.
Partners say that Holthaus' deep experience with the channel has positive implications for partners as part of Intel's bigger sales strategy.
"Intel is trying to better understand their channel base with initiatives between IoT, education, and other new focuses they're working on," said one Intel partner, who wished to remain anonymous. "It's a challenging issue to get their arms around as they look to have a strong channel strategy moving forward."