Avnet & IBM set lofty multi-million dollar channel goal

SAN ANTONIO, TX – Value-added distributor, Avnet, (Nasdaq: AVT)has an aggressive goal to achieve $600 million with its IBM (NYSE: IBM)business partners this last fiscal quarter. To help partners cash in on these opportunities, Avnet has introduced new vertical market practices around banking, retail and energy to help enable partners to win more business.

During yesterday’s opening keynote at Avnet Technology Solutions’ (ATS) IBM Partner Summit, Fred Cuen, the former president for ATS Americas and now the general manager and senior vice-president for ATS Americas IBM Solutions Group, took to the stage’ to thank partners for their continued business and partnerships.

He said Avnet reached $1.76B in annual sales for its 2010 fiscal year, thru its North American relationship with IBM, which grew 15 per cent year over year. Globally, the growth was a 20 per cent increase year over year. This year also marks both companies’ 25th year of doing business together.

Cuen also mentioned that of the 800 or so partners that have attended Avnet’s Healthcare University, they grew their businesses by 24 per cent last year, while those who didn’t participate saw a one per cent decline. In the government sector, partner graduates grew their businesses by 30 per cent, while those who didn’t partake in the university only grew their revenues by 10 per cent.

“Our SolutionsPath offerings are working and partners are seeing the results first-hand,” Cuen said. “We’ve found three additional vertical markets to launch which include banking, energy and retail. These areas show big opportunities and they’re very channel-friendly.”

Tony Vottima, senior vice-president of solutions marketing and development at ATS Americas, said according to research from IDC’s Worldwide Vertical Markets IT Spending 2009-2014 Forecast, energy is expected to be a $20.3 billion IT opportunity in 2010. The retail space in North America alone is expected to be a $40.1 billion IT opportunity this year and lastly, the financial industry is expected to be a $60 billion opportunity, according to estimates made from IDC in July this year.

In the new EnergyPath, Financial Path and RetailPath practices, each path will offer partners vertical market solutions in the forms of services, software and hardware to meet the needs and requirements of customers in those areas.

Some of the focus areas for EnergyPath will include utilities data management, utilities infrastructure optimization and utilities risk management and compliance. Under FinancialPath, areas will include customer channels and intelligence, institutional risk management and core financial systems. RetailPath will include areas around channels, retail data management and infrastructure optimization.

These new vertical practices will offer channel partners training and other enablement tools to help them build the skills and knowledge that’s necessary to become more successful, Cuen said. The vertical market practices are meant to help enable partners and guide them towards popular and growing market opportunities.

“The vertical markets are a way to accelerate our partners’ enablement,” Cuen said. “We’re giving partners the skills they need so they can market into that specific vertical. It’s also a way to gain entry into a customer’s environment by understanding what their needs are.

For those partners who wish to play in any of these verticals, it’s important for them to realize that the needs of customers vary.

“Partners need to understand what the customers in these vertical markets think about every day,” Vottima said. “For example in healthcare, they’re concerned about patient safety, patient care and reducing overall expenses for the hospital. In retail, they’re looking at new forms of mobility and at communicating back to customers and measuring customer satisfaction.”

Avnet executives also encouraged partner attendees to consider building a business around the data centre and the cloud to further differentiate themselves in the market place.

“There’s a trend towards software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS),” Vottima said. “Don’t compete against the cloud. Instead, add it into your portfolio because the data centre is evolving and has expanded outside of the simple on-premise solutions to offsite alternatives.”

Vottima said the cloud is still an “early opportunity” for Avnet and its partners because over the last year, the distributor took time to understand and learn about the market.

“In talking to cloud vendors and the public about SaaS, we learned there’s tremendous opportunity in the channel to architect solutions both on and off premise for customers,” Vottima said. “The rate of change in the market is at a quick pace and as we continue to see growth, we’ll make new adjustments as necessary and will look to grow our existing partners and look at new ones.”

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
Staff Writer, Computer Dealer News

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