Avnet keeps on innovating

Back in January, IDC came out with a report stating how, in a market that’s rapidly consolidating and commoditizing, IT distribution is often challenged by investors, suppliers and partners about their ability to add value to the supply chain. “With margins eroding and the complexity of many of the product lines diminishing, distributors are constantly challenged to find compelling business differentiation that sets them apart,” stated analysts Janet Waxman and Christina Richmond. “Some but not all have.”

The report goes on to describe Avnet as a “poster child” for innovation in IT distribution with Avnet SolutionsPath, a methodology designed to help partners specialize in high-growth vertical and technology markets, including healthcare, government, education and virtualization. “Through these practices,” said the report, “Avnet has shown that distribution can in fact add value and is beginning to change the rules for IT distribution.”

Avnet recently announced that its U.S. government market practice – which includes vertical-specific tools, consulting and university-style training – has helped its VARs achieve an average revenue growth rate of 32 per cent year over year (in some cases higher).

And now Avnet has launched a series of online sales toolkits, called SolutionsPath Playbooks, to help VARs develop solutions in specific technology segments and vertical markets. We’re not talking a dozen or so – we’re talking 75, to start. This is all part of an initiative Avnet execs undertook earlier this year to reevaluate how the distie packages its solutions and training.

The Playbooks, available through a portal on Avnet’s Web site, include everything from overviews of business pain points to marketing resources, Webinars and podcasts to catalogues of vendors that play in those spaces.

The key is that Avnet isn’t taking a one-size-fits-all approach or promoting particular vendors. In fact, the Playbooks were designed independently of vendors, so they provide not only vendor-specific plays, but also multiple-brand solution plays – which are far more useful to VARs who may be aligned with any number of vendors.

The IDC reports says, “Avnet has an opportunity to continue to lead in the area of solution specialization and has a recipe for investment that can and should be replicated.” While it says Avnet hasn’t done anything that can’t be replicated, it has the advantage of a long head start, and recommends Avnet continue to build out SolutionsPath in areas such as security, mobility, VoIP and convergence.

It looks like Avnet is taking this advice to heart, and is providing yet another innovation in IT distribution.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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